Though we’ve already had a surge in early commitments, the recruiting season for the high school class of 2017 has just officially opened on July 1.
And, per SwimSwam tradition, we’re back to rank out the top 20 prospects for both boys and girls. Keep in mind that this list is for the class of 2017 – swimmers heading into their senior year of high school who will graduate next spring and join college programs in the fall of 2017.
Our goal in these rankings is to reflect what college coaches look for in recruits, based on many years of conversations and coverage.
We focus only on American-based athletes, simply because there is so much uncertainty with international recruits – if they’ll come to the states, when they’ll come to the states and with what graduating class they should be ranked. Projecting international recruits often becomes more a discussion of when they’ll first join a college program and not which program they’ll join.
A few other factors that weigh heavily in our rankings:
- Sprints over distance – Relay points count double in college swimming, and any program needs a strong stable of quality sprinters to fill out all 5 relays with studs. Obviously, a special distance swimmer can easily rank ahead of a very good 100 freestyler, but college swimming generally values a sprint freestyler over a distance swimmer, all other factors being equal.
- Improvements – Actual times are a the trump card, but any big improvements in quality can make a difference as well. For example, a swimmer who only took up year-round swimming as a junior in high school going the same time as a swimmer whose been swimming year-round since they were 8 will probably get the edge in our rankings. Think Breeja Larson.
- Short Course over Long Course – we recognize that some programs, many programs, put their focus with their high school aged swimmers on long course, especially depending on when the high school championships may fall. That said, college swimming is short course, so a swimmer who is great in short course but struggles in long course will have the advantage over the opposite.
- NCAA scoring ability – NCAAs are the big show for college teams, so we’ve weighted NCAA scoring potential very highly. Swimmers who already have NCAA scoring times wind up mostly filling out the top our of rankings. Since college athletic directors – and by extension coaches – also place high value on conference championships, scoring ability at conference meets is also a factor in our rankings.
- Relative depth in the NCAA and recruiting class – a wealth of elite depth nationwide in one stroke discipline makes a big difference in what times are considered more valuable in that event. For example, the women’s backstrokes have been loaded with stars in the NCAA the past few years. Though a 52-second backstroker is still valuable, that time won’t get you near as far as it would have in years past. In the same vein, if a recruiting class is loaded with swimmers in the same event, they all are devalued a little, relatively speaking. This year’s class of boys, for example, has a bunch of 100 freestylers stacked up in the 44-mids. That depth, plus the presence of a 41-second guy at the top of the class, makes each of the bunch a little less valuable individually compared to an event with less recruiting options.
With that out of the way, let’s get to our rankings.
Disclosure: there are a lot of high school seniors in the country, and no really good, complete, 100% accurate listing of them all. If you don’t see your favorite swimmer on the list, feel free to politely point them out in the comments. There’s a chance that we disagree with your assessment of their spot in the top 20, and so long as it’s done civilly, there’s no problem with differences of opinions. There’s also a chance that we’ve simply missed a no-brainer (we’ve taken every precaution to avoid that), and if that happens, we want to make sure we correct it.
Top 10 Swimmers From The Class of 2017
1. Ryan Hoffer – Scottsdale Aquatic Club – Chaparral High School – Scottsdale, AZ **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best Times: 50 free – 19.06, 100 free – 41.23, 100 back – 45.58, 100 fly – 45.46, 200 free – 1:37.00
Hoffer is a tailor-made NCAA blue chip recruit. Versatile sprinters hold tremendous value at the NCAA level, and Hoffer is the best recruit in that archetype since American record-holder Caeleb Dressel. Hoffer could swim fly, back or free to elite levels on medley relays. He’s in line to join the exclusive 18-second club in the 50 free. And he’s outstanding underwater, which is essential in college swimming’s short course format.
2. Sean Grieshop – Nitro Swimming – St. Dominic Savio Catholic Sigh School – Austin, TX **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best Times: 1650 free – 14:45.40, 500 free – 4:15.53, 400 IM – 3:44.30, 200 IM – 1:46.58, 200 free – 1:36.52, 200 breast – 1:58.85
Right after our whole spiel about sprints over distance, and we’re ranking distance specialists at 2 and 3. But when your class features the junior world record-holder in the 400 IM (long course), you don’t sleep on him. Grieshop is already at NCAA scoring level in the mile and the 500 and extremely close in the 400 IM. Beyond that, he’s one of the class’s best 200 IMers and could still be a relay factor with some development in his 200 free.
Hirschberger isn’t as rangy or versatile as Grieshop, but is still a premier distance recruit. He’s at NCAA scoring level in the mile and 500 and comes out of the red-hot Nation’s Capital Club that has produced all sorts of NCAA and international studs. Hirschberger is also the third and last swimmer in the class with a time that would have scored at the 2016 NCAA meet – high school boys at that level are very rare compared to the girls side, which ups the value of this top three.
Murphy is the class of 2017’s top pure butterflyer (counting Hoffer more as a freestyler/all-around sprinter). He also gets a bit of an elevated ranking because he’s also on an absurd improvement curve – over the 2015 calendar year, he dropped his 100 fly time from 48.89 to 46.25. His 200 has been even more insane: 1:51.02 down to 1:44.31. If his stock continues to skyrocket over his senior year, Murphy could rise as high as #2 in this class in terms of NCAA value.
5. Michael Taylor – Dynamo Swim Club – Johns Creek High School – Alpharetta, GA **Verbally committed to Florida**
Best Times: 200 back – 1:41.94, 100 back – 47.17, 200 free – 1:37.04, 100 free – 45.83, 50 free – 20.75, 100 fly – 48.50
Based on pure short course times, Taylor should probably rank closer to 8 on this list. But he, like Camden Murphy, gets a “future projection” bump based on his lights-out swimming at U.S. Olympic Trials. Taylor dropped his long course backstroke times from 54.6 to 53.7 in the 100 and 1:58.1 to 1:56.7 in the 200, breaking a junior world record in the latter. If those improvements transfer over to short course, he could be nearly as good as NCAA champ Ryan Murphy was coming out of high school. (Murphy was 46.7/1:40.9 as a junior when we ranked him #2 in the class of 2013).
Katz is actually faster than Taylor in three of his four main events, and if Taylor’s improvements don’t make the jump to the short pool, Katz will turn out to be the more valuable prospect. And Katz has his own impressive improvement curve: from April 2015 to April 2016 he dropped his 100 back from 48.28 to 47.23 and his 200 from 1:43.70 to 1:41.48. The only thing hurting that backstroke duo is how insane the backstrokes have become at the NCAA level. Call it the Murphy Effect: when a returning NCAA swimmer is going 1:35 in the 200 back, a 1:41 suddenly loses a little of its value.
7. Grant House – Countryside YMCA – St. Xavier High School – Cincinnati, OH **Verbally committed to Arizona State**
Best Times: 200 free – 1:35.28, 100 free – 44.26, 500 free – 4:22.96, 50 free – 20.96, 200 IM – 1:47.82, 400 IM – 3:53.08, 200 breast – 1:59.88
Great range for Grant House, who has been tearing up the high school swimming scene in Ohio for several years. He’s got the class’s best 200 free and its third-best 100 free after Hoffer and Corban Rawls. He’ll be seen mostly as a 200 free/100 free guy to bolster relays, but he’s got intriguing IM and 200 breast talent as well. At the very least, that gives coaches flexibility with his tertiary event, and what coach doesn’t love a lineup with options?
8. Jake Sannem – Upper Dublin Aquatic Club – La Salle College High School – Ambler, PA **Verbally committed to USC**
Best Times: 200 free – 1:35.44, 500 free – 4:19.64, 100 free – 44.45, 50 free – 20.78
Sannem has nice freestyle range through the relay distances, and he’s got the second-best 200 freestyle in the class. This class is stacked up with 100 freestylers in the 44-mid range, but if Sannem can improve his time and separate himself a bit from the class there, he could become the premier relay swimmer of the bunch not named Hoffer.
9. Paul Delakis – Eau Claire YMCA Marlins – Eau Claire Memorial High School – Eau Claire, WI **Verbally committed to Ohio State**
Best Times: 200 IM – 1:46.36, 400 IM – 3:48.35, 200 free – 1:36.10, 200 breast – 1:58.37, 100 breast – 54.81
Delakis is the class’s best 200 IMer, and college coaches love the versatility of elite IMers. He’s also one of the better breaststrokers in the class and is sneaky-good at the 200 free for relay purposes. Keep an eye on his 400 IM, where he dropped from 3:53 to 3:48 in 2015.
10. Christopher Yeager – Nitro Swimming – Fort Bend High School – Fort Bend, TX **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times: 1650 free – 14:55.04, 500 free – 4:24.39, 400 IM – 3:57.28
Yeager is pretty much a one-trick pony in the distance races, but he’s also extremely close to NCAA scoring level as a high school junior in the mile, and NCAA points are NCAA points. He’s also dropped pretty consistently in the 1650: from 15:15 in 2014 to 14:56 in late 2015 to 14:55 earlier this year. Watch him for another drop at Winter Juniors in December, where he’s typically peaked in previous years.
Honorable Mention (#11-20)
11. Bryce Mefford – Sierra Marlins Swim Team – Oak Ridge High School – El Dorado Hills, CA **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best Times: 200 back – 1:42.18, 100 back – 48.05, 200 free – 1:36.71, 100 free – 44.62, 200 IM – 1:48.59, 100 fly – 47.89
Very versatile. 200 back is near NCAA scoring level.
12. Sam Pomajevich – Nation’s Capital Swim Club – Stonewall Jackson High School – Manassas, VA **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times: 200 fly – 1:44.65, 100 fly – 47.99, 200 free – 1:36.87, 100 free – 44.78, 400 IM – 3:53.14
Good relay pickup in both fly and free. His 200 fly could push for NCAA points.
13. Brennan Pastorek – Georgia Coastal Aquatic Team – Savannah Country Day – Savannah, GA **Verbally committed to Stanford**
Best Times: 100 breast – 54.29, 200 breast – 1:57.63, 200 IM – 1:47.98, 400 IM – 3:53.84
The class’s best breaststroker, though a ways out from scoring with the NCAA explosion in those events.
14. Alex Liang – Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics – Palo Alto High School – Palo Alto, CA **Verbally committed to Stanford**
Best Times: 200 IM – 1:47.41, 400 IM – 3:51.40, 200 free – 1:36.65, 200 fly – 1:44.64, 100 fly – 48.29
The IMs are intriguing, but it’s his versatility that really ups his value.
15. Trenton Julian – Rose Bowl Aquatics – Glendale High School – Glendale, CA **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best Times: 200 free – 1:36.21, 100 fly – 47.88, 200 fly – 1:45.81, 200 IM – 1:48.71, 400 IM – 3:52.46
Another solid, versatile California IMer with a strong 200 free.
16. Daniel Carr – Pikes Peak Athletics – Cheyenne Mountain High School – Colorado Springs, CO **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best Times: 200 back – 1:43.38, 100 back – 48.10, 200 IM – 1:48.44, 400 IM – 3:53.36, 100 free – 44.67
200 back is probably his best event at the moment, but could develop into a star in one of several different directions.
Very good IMer, and potentially coming down from altitude in Colorado.
18. Nicolas Albiero – Cardinal Aquatics – Christian Academy of Louisville – Louisville, KY **Verbally committed to Louisville**
Best Times: 200 back – 1:45.54, 100 back – 48.21, 200 fly – 1:46.35, 100 fly – 47.63, 100 free – 44.52, 200 IM – 1:49.09
He doesn’t have that one standout event, but has too much potential in a range of races to overlook.
A one-stroke guy, but could turn out to be the class’s best breaststroker by next spring.
The second-best 100 free in the class, but hasn’t yet showed elite range extension to the 50 (21.2) or 200 (1:37.0).