The Week That Was In College Swimming (Week 15) – The Top Swimmers of the Regular Season

Championship season starts next week, with Power 5 conference meets such as ACCs, SECs, and Women’s Big Tens, along with several Division I mid-major and Division II conferences. To celebrate the (almost) end of the regular season, this week in The Week That Was In College Swimming, we’re ranking the top 5 Division I women and men of the regular season.

Of course, more than just these 10 swimmers have made their mark this season, so feel free to let us know in the comments who you think has had the most impressive regular season.


#5 Claire Curzan — Freshman, Stanford

You could argue the case for a few different women to slide into these rankings, including Claire Curzan‘s teammate Torri Huske. Ultimately though, Curzan edges them out because of her 200 backstroke from the NC State Invitational.

It was no secret that Curzan was going to be a huge boost for the Stanford Cardinal, especially after Regan Smith‘s departure after her freshman year. Stanford doesn’t exactly have the most challenging dual meet schedule, but Curzan’s a star who’s valuable from NCAAs to PAC-12s to dual meets. The North Carolina native is such a versatile swimmer that Greg Meehan had no shortage of options for how to deploy her–she’s dangerous in freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly.

We anticipated her joining in the action for the 100 fly, the marquee event of women’s NCAAs, but she’s also shown us that she’s capable of grabbing a national title in the 200 back. At midseason, she ripped a lifetime best of 1:48.50, taking .85 seconds off her previous mark. The time is still 1.62 seconds faster than the rest of the field, which includes Olympians Phoebe Bacon and Rhyan White.

#4 Kelly Pash — Senior, Texas

Senior Kelly Pash has been an important part of Texas’ roster for a long time now at the last two NCAAs, she’s scored 44 and 43 individual points, respectively. She’s taken a step forward this season though, asserting herself on the national level with NCAA-leading times ahead of the postseason.

A part of the powerful Texas fly group, Pash swam a lifetime best 51.01 in the 100 fly at the Minnesota Invite. Then, she followed up at the Sterkel Classic with a new 200 fly best of 1:51.45, which moved her ahead of teammate Dakota Luther for second in the NCAA this season.

The Sterkel Classic and Texas vs. NC State were the meets where Pash and the rest of the Texas women hit the accelerator. In addition to her 200 fly, Pash posted a 1:42.73 200 free (#1 in NCAA) and a 1:53.81 200 IM (#5 in NCAA). Kate Douglass is the blueprint for NCAA versatility, but Pash is another Swiss Army knife swimmer that’s valuable to any roster.

This season, Pash has already swum four lifetime bests. In fact, a fun stat that highlights the improvements she’s made over the last four years is that there are only three yards events that Pash has not swum a best time in while at Texas: the 500 free, 100 breast, and 200 breast.

#3 Maggie MacNeil — Fifth-Year, LSU 

Maggie MacNeil, 2019 World Championships. Courtesy Joseph Kleindl

Olympic gold medalist Maggie MacNeil made an immediate impact she arrived on LSU’s campus. With her skill level, even if she wasn’t at her best she would have been a big addition for the Tigers, but she’s been on another level since reuniting with Rick Bishop. She took down two program records in her dual meet debut, then broke another two in her next meet. One of those records was a 50.84 100 fly, which stood as the fastest unsuited 100 fly of all-time until Gretchen Walsh dove in a couple weeks later.

At the Art Adamson Invite, Macneil exploded. On day 1 alone, she pulled off an incredible triple, first, she split 20.59 on the 200 freestyle relay, which is the 10th fastest split all-time and makes her the seventh fastest performer. Next, she ripped 21.03 in the 50 free for a new personal best that ties the SEC record and makes her the fourth-fastest performer all-time. To cap off her triple, she posted by blazing a 49.10 butterfly split on the 400 medley relay–the fastest 100 fly split in history. She’s also a large part of the reason that the Tigers have qualified not one but two relays for NCAAs, their first relay qualifications since 2016.

Macneil is the only female swimmer in the top 25 Division I teams still undefeated: she has 19 wins under her belt already and aims to keep the streak alive at next week’s SECs. In terms of immediate impact, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone this season who’s done more than Macneil.

#2 Gretchen Walsh — Sophomore, Virginia

After a great showing at U.S. Nationals last summer, Walsh continued to impress in her sophomore season at Virginia. Even before midseason, Walsh ripped the fastest 100-yard IM ever (52.09), as well as the fastest unsuited 100 fly (50.53).

Until the Cavalier invite this past weekend, Gretchen Walsh had an undefeated streak going for the 2022-23 season like Macneil. Her streak was snapped in the 200 free by teammate Aimee Canny, but the race was still a great one for Walsh, who popped a lifetime best 1:43.24. That’s currently the fourth-fastest time in the NCAA, giving her 5 events where she’s in the NCAA’s top 8 for the season. Outside of her 50 free time, the most impressive of her times is probably her 50.07 100 back, which she swam unsuited to take over the top time in the nation.

Over her run, Walsh amassed 12 individual event victories, including five over her teammate Kate Douglass (who we’ll get to in a minute). She’s clocked 21-point 50 freestyles this season, an insane level of consistency. The highlight of her season in that event though, is the lifetime best 20.94 she blazed at the Tennessee Invitational, the fourth-fastest performance all-time. Later in the meet, she became just the fourth woman to break 50 seconds in both the 100 back and 100 fly.

#1 Kate Douglass — Senior, Virginia

Courtesy: Matt Riley – UVA Communications

It was a tough choice between the younger Walsh and Kate Douglass for the top spot. But ultimately, breaking the 200 breast American record twice before championship season gives the edge to Douglass. The fact that the idea of a sub-2:00 200 breast has even entered the conversation as a bold prediction shows how far Douglass has extended our ideas about what’s possible.

This season, she’s been the same versatile weapon for the Cavaliers that she’s always been: dangerous across a wide range of strokes and distances while an essential relay piece. She’s even made improvements in backstroke, which was seen as her “weak” stroke. At the Cavalier Invitational, she threw down a pool record time of 50.47. To hit the third-fastest NCAA time of the season in your weak stroke is a pretty impressive feat.

Currently, she’s top 8 in the NCAA in eight different events, with her lowest ranking a tie for seventh in the 100 free with Gabi Albiero (47.49).

Kate Douglass, NCAA Top 8 Times, 2022-23 NCAA season:

  • 50 freestyle: 21.17, 3rd
  • 100 freestyle: 47.49, t-7th
  • 100 backstroke: 50.47, 3rd
  • 100 breaststroke: 58.14, 5th
  • 200 breaststroke: 2:01.43, 1st (American Record)
  • 100 butterfly: 49.76, 3rd
  • 200 IM: 1:52.07, 2nd

Douglass is a big meet swimmer, so she likely has even more to offer in what could be her final NCAA season, if she doesn’t use her fifth-year. She’s already said this NCAA’s will be her last so cherish her last few rested yards swims.


#5 Youssef Ramadan — Junior, Virginia Tech

Now in his junior season, Youssef Ramadan has cemented himself as a key part Virginia Tech’s roster. Ramadan finished third in the 100 fly last season and currently has the fastest time in the NCAA at 44.42. He took over the #1 spot in January at 44.76, then hit 44.42 at the VT Invite. With Luca Urlando injured and Andrei Minakov rounding into form (quickly) Ramadan is currently the favorite for the 100 fly title in March. He’s been steadily improving all season, both in his primary events and off events like the 100/200 back.

Currently, he’s eighth in the 50 freestyle this season, sort of on the outside looking in as he’s the first person in the standings who hasn’t been sub-19 yet this season. However, he’s done it before with a lifetime best of 18.79 from 2022 NCAA prelims, so we know that he’s capable of getting in the mix in that event.

#4 Gui Caribe — Freshman, Tennessee

Photo courtesy Guilherme Caribé

Last year, Jordan Crooks was the freshman sensation for Tennessee. This year, it’s Gui Caribe. Together, the two of them form perhaps the strongest sprint freestyle 1-2 in the NCAA, but Caribe has proven his value as more than just the second-fastest relay leg behind Crooks.

The Brazil native adjusted quickly to yards swimming, and currently holds lifetime bests of 18.91/41.44/46.50 in the 50 free/100 free/100 fly. Those sprint freestyle times would have landed him in the ‘A’ final of both events at 2022 NCAAs. This season, they’ve earned him #4 and #2 in the NCAA heading into championship season.

He first turned heads during Tennessee’s dual with UNC-Wilmington, splitting 18.97 on the 200 free relay and hitting 20.22/43.86 in the individual 50/100 free. From there he’s only continued to improve, making us wonder what kind of times he’ll put up at both SECs and NCAAs. With the SEC sprinting scene as crowded as it is, the meet should be a good test for him.

#3 Carson Foster — Junior, Texas

This season, Carson Foster was asked to play a different role for the Longhorns than he has in either of his two previous seasons. He’s become more involved in the relays, and has taken on some different events than he usually swims at dual meets. He took on these new challenges admirably, and heads into championship season owning an NCAA top 8 time in five different events: 200 free (1:32.29), 500 free (4:10.31), 200 fly (1:40.83), 200 IM (1:42.68), and 400 IM (3:38.79). With his times, keep in mind that he left the Minnesota Invite early to head to SC Worlds.

His 200 and 500 freestyle times are personal bests, as is the 1:53.77 200 breast he swam at Texas’ final dual meet against SMU. Foster’s versatility makes him a valuable asset to the Longhorns during dual meets, which was on full display against NC State, where he took on a 200 free/200 IM/200 back triple in about an hour.

#2 Jordan Crooks — Sophomore, Tennessee

Photo By Ian Cox/Tennessee Athletics

After a breakout campaign during the championship season of his freshman year, Jordan Crooks fully arrived during the 2022-23 season. During his slate of fall dual meets, he was turning out 19.3 50 freestyles seemingly every time he swam the race. He’s also already split sub-20 on the fly leg of the 200 medley relay multiple times. He’s showed us that his performance at the end of last season was no fluke and that not only is he fast, he is consistently fast.

Crooks let off the fireworks at midseason, ripping an 18.27 50 freestyle to tie Bjorn Seeliger as the second-fastest performer all-time. The NCAA sprinting field has gotten even more crowded this year, and so far Crooks leads the seven men already under 19 seconds this season. He shone in his other events as well, posting 41.17 in the 100 free, 45.55 in the 100 back, and 44.79 in the 100 fly. Those times in the 100s of stroke are new lifetime bests and were Tennessee Invite meet records, highlighting that it isn’t just his freestyle that Crooks’ has improved on this season.

Crooks has been on a roll all season with only two dual meet losses, and in any other season he probably would have taken the #1 spot on this lis.t.

#1 Leon Marchand — Sophomore, ASU

This should come as no surprise. Leon Marchand could not be stopped in 2022, and he’s carried that momentum right into his sophomore NCAA season. He completed a perfect regular season, going 20-for-20 and winning all of his individual events. A ridiculous stat worth repeating is that Marchand currently owns 7 of the NCAA’s fastest times in the 13 events contested at national championships, one of which was a new NCAA record.

Leon Marchand, Nation-Leading Times, 2022-23 NCAA season:

  • 500 free: 4:07.81
  • 100 back: 44.77
  • 100 breast: 51.01
  • 200 breast: 1:48.82
  • 200 fly: 1:39.57
  • 200 IM: 1:38.89
  • 400 IM: 3:31.84 (NCAA record)

If that wasn’t impressive enough, all of these swims except the 200 fly were done at January dual meets. January is the time of year where there historically has not been a ton of fast swimming but Marchand–along with the Virginia and Texas women–bucked that trend every weekend last month.

Unfortunately for all of us, Marchand can’t race all of these events at NCAAs, but we can hold out hope that he has some fun with his line-up at PAC-12s. Hyper-versatile swimmers like him don’t come around all that often, and it’s exciting to think about what he could go (in any of these events) fully tapered for a championship meet.

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UT > ut
1 month ago

Carson is washed up Tennessee on top
Gui > Carson

Sherry Smit
1 month ago

Alex Walsh?

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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