Top 20 NCAA Swimming Recruits In The Boys High School Class of 2023

It’s that time of year again when we at SwimSwam rank out the top 20 high school swimming prospects in the upcoming NCAA recruiting class.

As college recruiting has reached earlier and earlier into high school classes, we’re continually expanding our recruiting ranks and coverage. Last spring, we ranked out the then-sophomore class. This is essentially a re-rank of that class, taking into account a year of improvements. Stay tuned to our recruiting channel for more additions to our yearly recruiting coverage:

  • Girls & boys ranks for current juniors – high school class of 2023 (updated rankings from our “Way Too Early” rankings last spring)
  • Way Too Early ranks for current sophomore girls & boys – high school class of 2024
  • Re-Rank of outgoing senior girls & boys – high school class of 2022

Further reading:

So without further ado, let’s take a look at this class as a whole, then review our ranking methodology (please read it before you get upset about how low the top miler is ranked!) and get into our rankings.

2022 addendum: The sport has returned to something a little more resembling normal after two years of the coronavirus pandemic. That said, the pandemic remains the elephant in the room when it comes to ranking these classes. Certainly every athlete on the list has lost out on training and racing opportunities of some kind, and each swimmer in wildly varying amounts. As we can’t reliably quantify whose current portfolio of times is most suppressed by the pandemic years, all we can do is rank based on the in-pool production we’ve seen. But it’s worth noting up-front that this class has a real chance for some big upheaval as swimmers ‘catch up’ from the missed pandemic years.

THIS CLASS

  • Quickly rising to become one of the best classes we’ve seen in awhile
  • Loaded with fly/back types
  • Very good and very deep in sprint free
  • Distance is a bit thinner
  • Fairly thin on top-end breaststrokers
  • Still a very thin group of pure IMers

This is only the fourth class since we started ranking sophomore groups, but this class of 2023 shows the biggest jump we’ve seen a class make from sophomore to junior ranks as a whole, boys or girls. It’s kind of a perfect storm: boys tend to drop a lot more time in the late high school years than the top girls recruits do. This class probably looked less impressive than it should have as sophomores because of COVID-related lapses in training and competition. Plus, heading into the Olympic year last spring, many of the top swimmers may have spent a little more time focusing on long course without showing the same kind of short course drops.

All that said, this class is rapidly becoming one of the best we’ve ranked as juniors in a long time. Overall, the class reminds me a bit of the class of 2017. Headed by a big-name, versatile sprinter (then: Ryan Hoffer; now: Scotty Buff), both classes are thick with fast-developing fly and back talent. (That class of 2017 produced names like Nicolas Albiero, Trenton Julian, Bryce Mefford, Daniel Carr, Austin Katz, and Camden Murphy in the fly/back events). You know the rankings are brutal when you’re splitting hairs over which 47-second flyers and backstrokers to leave out of the top 20 – and there are a lot of guys with those times not in our top 20 rankings.

A year ago, this class was mostly headlined by sprint freestylers and freestyle depth. The depth is definitely still the case, though the flyers and backstrokers have mostly overtaken the sprint freestylers as the most notable group in this class.

If there’s a weak spot in the class, it’s probably pure IMers. A lot of the top-end talent can cross over into one or the other IM race. But there aren’t a lot of true two-distance IMers in our ranked recruits.

This group is also a bit thin in distance freestyle and in breaststroke, though we’ve got a few really solid talents near the top.

Top Times in the Class of 2023
50 Free Diggory Dillingham 19.52
100 Free Hudson Williams 43.32
200 Free Nate Germonprez 1:34.19
500 Free Rex Maurer 4:13.90
1000 Free** Andrew Taylor 8:57.43
1650 Free Rex Maurer 15:02.97
100 Back Scotty Buff 45.89
200 Back Keaton Jones 1:41.71
100 Breast Nate Germonprez 53.04
200 Breast Nate Germonprez 1:54.87
100 Fly Scotty Buff 45.40
200 Fly Ilya Kharun 1:42.39
200 IM Will Modglin 1:44.10
400 IM Bert Najera 3:47.33

**The 1000 free isn’t an event at the Division I NCAA Championships, but is swum instead of the 1650 in many Division I dual meets and is part of the NCAA program in Division II.

THE METHODOLOGY

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 United 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:

  • Relay Value – Relay points count double in college swimming, and any program needs a strong stable of quality sprinters to fill out all 5 relays with stars. 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 carry the most weight by a longshot. But we also keep an eye on a swimmer’s trajectory, especially in deciding between two swimmers with relatively even times.
  • Short Course over Long Course – while every club and every swimmer will have a different balance of focus between short course and long course swimming, the NCAA competes in short course yards, and that’s going to be the main factor considered in these rankings. Long course times are another data point for consideration, but we mainly view them through the lens of what a big long course swim could mean for an athlete’s future in short course.
  • 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. Events rise at different rates in the NCAA, but when one event gets extremely deep and fast at the college level, it makes high school prospects in those events a little less valuable, relatively, with lots of other veteran options. In the same way, a recruiting class stacked with swimmers in butterfly, for example, would make each butterflyer a little less sought-after in the market, with lots of other recruiting options able to provide similar production.

Of course, there’s no way to predict the future, and the most concrete data we have to go on are cold, hard times. These rankings in no way mean that all of these 20 swimmers will be NCAA standouts, and they certainly don’t mean that no swimmer left off this list will make big contributions at the NCAA level.

With that out of the way, let’s get to our rankings.

Disclaimer: 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 20 SWIMMERS FROM THE CLASS OF 2023

1. Scotty Buff – Greater Toledo Aquatic Club – Saint Francis de Sales High School – Maumee, OH **Verbally committed to Florida**
(Previous Rank: #4)
Best Times:

  • 100 fly: 45.40 (best in class)
  • 100 back: 45.89 (best in class)
  • 50 free: 19.56
  • 100 free: 43.56
  • 200 back: 1:43.92
  • 200 fly: 1:47.34

One big reason this class reminds me of the class of 2017 is how much Buff reminds me of #1 recruit in the 2017 class Ryan Hoffer. Obviously, Buff doesn’t have Hoffer’s unprecedented sprint free speed (19.0/41.2 as a high school junior). But Buff’s sprint fly and back speed (45.4 fly/45.8 back) match up extremely well with Hoffer’s (45.4 fly / 45.5 back as a junior). In fact, based on our top recruits lists since 2012, Buff is the second-fastest junior 100 flyer we’ve ever ranked behind only Hoffer. He’s also on a big improvement curve, dropping about two seconds in the backstroke this past year and breaking 54 seconds in the long course 100 fly at this spring’s U.S. World Championships Trials. In the NCAA, sprint relay weapons are a massive value, and Buff fits that Hoffer/Gretchen Walsh/Caeleb Dressel mold that’s proven so successful in NCAA scoring.

2. Rex Maurer – Rose Bowl Aquatics – Loyola High School – Pasadena, CA
(Previous Rank: #2)
Best Times:

  • 500 free: 4:13.90 (best in class)
  • 1000 free: 9:07.55
  • 1650 free: 15:02.97 (best in class)
  • 200 free: 1:34.59
  • 100 free: 43.76
  • 50 free: 20.20
  • 200 back: 1:46.95
  • 400 IM: 3:57.20

Maurer holds his #2 rank as the best distance swimmer in the class and one of only three swimmers in the class with a 2022 NCAA invite time already as a high school junior. A 4:13.90 as a high schooler is really really good. In fact, it’s the fastest time we’ve ever seen by a high school junior since we started ranking recruits back in 2012. (Compare that to some big names like Jake Magahey’s 4:14.6, Patrick Callan’s 4:14.6, Drew Kibler’s 4:15.3, Sean Grieshop’s 4:15.5 or Grant Shoults’ 4:15.5). Maurer also has the best mile in the class, and didn’t even get to swim that event in California’s high school season, where he put up a big 500 free drop. That might suggest more distance drops are coming. Then, too, Maurer might project just as well downward from the 500, as he’s near the top of the class in the 200 free with pretty solid speed into the relay distances too.

3. Ilya Kharun – Sandpipers of Nevada – Las Vegas, NV **Verbally committed to Arizona State**
(Previous Rank: N/A)
Best Times:

  • 200 fly: 1:42.39 (best in class)
  • 100 fly: 45.59
  • 1650 free: 15:03.72
  • 1000 free: 9:02.58
  • 500 free: 4:20.55
  • 50 free: 20.16
  • 200 IM: 1:47.41
  • 400 IM: 3:50.16

The next three in the ranks are almost interchangeable, depending on which strokes and distance ranges you value most. We’re going with Kharun at #3 for a few reasons. The biggest is his improvement curve. At this time last year, Kharun didn’t even make our list, as his best short course production was just 48.9/1:49.6 in the butterfly races. Even then, though, you could tell that Kharun had an extremely high ceiling, as he’d been 54.3/2:03.5 in the long course butterfly races. He’s had incredible drops in both courses. The highlight is probably the seven-second drop in the 200 fly to lead the class. But Kharun is also 45.5 in the 100 fly, making him one of three swimmers in the class who already has a time that would have been invited to 2022 NCAAs. (He’s cut to 52.8/1:58.9 in the long course butterfly races, too). Like Buff, Kharun is one of the top 100 flyers we’ve ever ranked as a junior, beating out names like Luca Urlando (45.6), Aiden Hayes (46.0) and Camden Murphy (46.2). Kharun also shows pretty intriguing versatility – he’s a second or so away from the top mile time in the class. 100 fly/200 fly/1650 free is an odd NCAA combo, but Kharun has plenty of ability to swim multiple events in a session. Nearly all of his short course bests come from the same meet: Winter Juniors in December.

Shout out to commenter swimtothemoon24, who predicted this last year. (This type of comment is awesome, by the way – the most fun part of these ranks is the discussion they generate, especially when everyone can share different viewpoints without being angry or offended.)

4. Will Modglin – Zionsville Swim Club – Zionsville Community High School – Zionsville, IN **Verbally committed to Texas**
(Previous Rank: #1)
Best Times:

  • 100 back: 45.90
  • 200 back: 1:42.57
  • 200 IM: 1:44.10 (best in class)
  • 100 breast: 54.07
  • 200 breast: 1:59.81
  • 100 fly: 47.41
  • 50 free: 19.99
  • 100 free: 43.67
  • 200 free: 1:37.54

Modglin is the best 200 IMer in the class, and he’s got really elite versatility across all four strokes. It’s pretty rare to find a 45-second backstroker with 47-second fly speed and 43-second freestyle talent – combined with a 54.0 in the 100 breast. That type of multi-stroke range makes you think Modglin should develop into an incredible college IMer, as we tend to see recruits make their biggest drops in the IM races. Even if you took out his 200 IM time, Modglin would rank pretty highly as a pure backstroker. His backstroke times are reminiscent of someone like Destin Lasco, who was 45.9/1:41.7 as a high school junior before really breaking out at the college level.

5. Nate Germonprez – Inspire Swim Team – Westside High School – Omaha, NE **Verbally committed to Texas**
(Previous Rank: #3)
Best Times:

  • 200 IM: 1:44.58
  • 100 breast: 53.04 (best in class)
  • 200 breast: 1:54.87 (best in class)
  • 200 free: 1:34.19 (best in class)
  • 100 back: 47.21
  • 200 back: 1:44.46
  • 100 fly: 47.22
  • 400 IM: 3:56.01
  • 100 free: 43.86
  • 50 free: 19.91

There are 13 individual swimming events in the NCAA Championships lineup. We just had to list 10 of them for Germonprez, who could conceivably lead this class in five or more events with a great senior year. He’s a half-second behind Modglin for the best 200 IM in the class, but that probably looks like his best bet as an NCAA prospect. Like Modglin, Germonprez has incredible versatility across the 100s of all four strokes. He’s much more of a breaststroker, though, while Modglin is more of a backstroker. At this point, you’d probably have to project Germonprez to swim 200 IM/100 breast/200 breast in the NCAA format, but he could develop into a lot of different spots across the lineup. Either way, having an IMer who can drop a huge split on a 4×200 free relay is a luxury any college coach will take in a heartbeat.

6. Keaton Jones – Swim Neptune – Higley High School – Gilbert, AZ **Verbally committed to Cal**
(Previous Rank: #5)
Best Times: 

  • 200 back: 1:41.71 (best in class)
  • 400 IM: 3:47.55
  • 200 IM: 1:47.16
  • 200 free: 1:35.42
  • 500 free: 4:15.54
  • 1000 free: 9:05.41
  • 1650 free: 15:06.90
  • 100 back: 47.69
  • 200 fly: 1:45.81
  • 100 fly: 48.50

Jones is another hyper-versatile athlete who could go a lot of different routes as a college swimmer. He’s got the top 200 back time in the class, ranking among the top recruits we’ve ever ranked there. (One great historical comp is Austin Katz, who was 1:41.4/47.2 as a junior). But Jones also has great distance free prowess and some really good IM times – he’s just two tenths away from being the top 400 IMer in the class and dropped more than four seconds since our last round of rankings. One more massive drop: from 4:22 to 4:15 in the 500 free. Maybe his best college-level comp is someone like Sean Grieshop, a great 400 IM/500 free combo swimmer who could swim up to the mile or across to a stroke 200 if needed.

7.  Gibson Holmes – Mason Manta Rays – Indian Hill High School – Cincinnati, OH **Verbally committed to Stanford**
(Previous Rank: #19)
Best Times:

  • 200 IM: 1:44.59
  • 200 fly: 1:42.95
  • 100 fly: 46.77
  • 200 free: 1:37.37
  • 400 IM: 3:55.94

A year ago, it was a little harder to project where Holmes would fit as a college swimmer – he had pretty intriguing times in IM, fly, free, and even breaststroke. As a junior, he’s started to separate himself from the field in the flys and IMs, though, and he now looks like a true 200 IM/100 fly/200 fly swimmer at the NCAA level who could also eventually cross over into a free relay or two. He’s dropped nearly four full seconds in the 200 IM to sit very close to the best in the class there. An even bigger drop, though, came in the 200 fly: from 1:50 to 1:42.9. That has to bode well for his trajectory over the next year or so before he enters the college ranks.

8. Roman Jones – Jersey Flyers Aquatic Club – The Pingry School – Chatham, NJ **Verbally committed to Cal**
(Previous Rank: #9)
Best Times:

  • 100 back: 46.24
  • 100 fly: 46.30
  • 100 free: 43.38
  • 100 breast: 54.67
  • 50 free: 20.04

That’s a super interesting portfolio of times for Jones, who is very much a jack-of-all-trades within the sprints. He reminds me a bit of a souped-up version of River Wright, another former top prospect who was really good across the 100s of all four strokes. Jones looks like he’s starting to zero in on backstroke as his go-to race after dropping nearly two full seconds in the 100 back over his junior year. He also dropped about a second and a half in the 100 fly and in the 100 free, while he really hasn’t seen those kind of drops in breaststroke. One thing to watch with Jones will be how he develops as an IMer. With his speed around the 100s, you’d think he’d be faster than 1:53 in the 200 IM, and he’s definitely got the potential to develop there.

9. Hudson Williams – New Albany Aquatic Club – Olentangy Liberty High School – Powell, OH **Verbally committed to NC State**
(Previous Rank: HM)
Best Times:

  • 100 free: 43.32 (best in class)
  • 100 back: 46.88
  • 200 free: 1:35.84
  • 50 free: 20.09
  • 100 fly: 48.06
  • 200 IM: 1:46.58
  • 400 IM: 3:56.34

An honorable mention candidate last time around, Hudson has made massive strides in sprint freestyle to crack our top 10. Those time drops include going from 20.8 to 20.0 in the 50 free, 44.9 to a class-best 43.3 in the 100 free and 1:41 to a crazy 1:35.8 in the 200 free. If that’s not enough, he’s also got excellent versatility, with a 46-second backstroke and a 1:46 IM. In fact, we considered him mostly an IMer in last year’s ranks, though even then we specifically noted that we could see him develop into a freestyle relay value.

10. Jonny Marshall – Firestone Akron Swim Team – Firestone Senior High School – Akron, OH **Verbally committed to Florida**
(Previous Rank: #8)
Best Times:

  • 200 back: 1:41.99
  • 100 back: 46.74
  • 200 free: 1:36.54
  • 100 fly: 48.08

Marshall is an excellent 200 backstroker with solid 100 back speed to go along with it. That 200 has seen the biggest drops from last year, cutting from 1:47.1 to 1:41.9 to sit among the best in the class. Marshall hasn’t quite seen the same trajectory in the 100, but dropped plenty of time from 47.4 to 46.7 as a junior. He’s got a good 200 free, too, and could have some crossover into the 800 free relay like guys like Austin Katz or Bryce Mefford have in the past.

11. Logan Brown – First Colony Swim Team – Clements High School – Sugar Land, TX **Verbally committed to Texas A&M**
(Previous Rank: HM)
Best Times:

  • 200 IM: 1:45.11
  • 200 breast: 1:55.11
  • 100 breast: 53.39
  • 400 IM: 3:49.20
  • 100 fly: 47.41
  • 50 free: 20.29
  • 100 free: 44.50

Another former honorable mention moving up. Brown is a super-intriguing versatile athlete who could really wind up gearing primarily towards the IMs or towards the breaststrokes. Either way, his drops from 1:49.1 to 1:45.1 in the 200 IM and from 1:59.2 to 1:55.1 in the 200 breast will likely make those two his primary events. He could very easily wind up the best 400 IMer in the class and has some great long course production in breaststroke (1:03/2:16) and IM (2:05/4:31) to back up his short course times.

12. Brendan Whitfield – Lynchburg YMCA – Jefferson Forest High School – Forest, VA **Verbally committed to Virginia Tech**
(Previous Rank: N/A)
Best Times:

  • 50 free: 19.93
  • 100 free: 43.80
  • 200 free: 1:36.78
  • 100 back: 48.16
  • 200 back: 1:46.63
  • 100 fly: 48.98

Keep an eye on this name. Whitfield is flying up recruiting boards after an amazing junior year. One year ago, he wasn’t even close to the top 20 with freestyle times of 20.8/47.4/1:44.1. He has dropped those massively, with the biggest surprise probably being that 7.4-second drop in the 200 free. He should fit very well in the relay-distance freestyles for a team needing to bolster its relay depth, and he’s still got interesting developmental speed in back and fly, depending on where he focuses as senior.

13. Chase Mueller – Foothills Swim Team – Columbine High School – Littleton, CO **Verbally committed to NC State**
(Previous Rank: N/A)
Best Times:

  • 200 back: 1:42.09
  • 100 back: 47.40
  • 200 free: 1:35.52
  • 100 free: 43.71
  • 50 free: 20.34
  • 200 IM: 1:47.80

Mueller is another really fast dropper in sprint free, but his backstrokes still remain his calling card. After dropping more than four seconds in the 200 back, Mueller sits near the top of the class there, and he’s got solid 100 back speed, too. He’s dropped about a second and a half in the 100 free and looks like he could develop into a multi-relay threat at the college level.

14. Ben Scholl – Cypress Fairbanks Swim Club – Cypress, TX **Verbally committed to Texas A&M**
(Previous Rank: #17)
Best Times:

  • 50 free: 19.88
  • 100 free: 43.62
  • 200 free: 1:36.79

A year ago, Scholl was a two-distance sprinter who needed to develop his range a little bit. He’s completely lived up to that mission, dropping 2.4 seconds in his 200 free while also seeing big drops in his shorter races. (From 20.4 to 19.8 in the 50 free and 44.6 to 43.6 in the 100 free). He’s probably not a guy that’s going to cross over to other strokes much, although a 49.2 in the 100 fly is very solid. But being this good from the 50 through the 200 will give Scholl a shot to swim every relay in the lineup while also contributing individually, and that’s really valuable in the NCAA format.

15. Sonny Wang – Waterloo Swimming – Westwood High School – Austin, TX **Verbally committed to Harvard**
(Previous Rank: #16)
Best Times:

  • 50 free: 19.99
  • 100 free: 43.38
  • 100 fly: 47.58
  • 200 free: 1:38.08

Here’s another fast-dropping sprinter with a lot of relay potential. Wang was 20.2/44.2 at this time last year, and moves up a spot in the ranks after seeing solid drops in both of those two events. Probably more influential for his NCAA scoring ceiling is a cut from 50.0 to 47.5 in the 100 fly for a great third event. He’s also improving as a 200 guy after cutting five seconds.

16. Caleb Maldari – SwimMAC Carolina – Charlotte, NC **Verbally committed to Florida**
(Previous Rank: HM)
Best Times:

  • 200 back: 1:42.97
  • 100 back: 47.31
  • 200 IM: 1:47.55
  • 400 IM: 3:50.38
  • 200 free: 1:37.99
  • 100 fly: 48.61

Now the list swings back a little bit towards versatility with Maldari, a great backstroker/IMer out of North Carolina. He dropped almost a second and a half in the 100 back and nearly two seconds in the 200 back and still projects as a great two-distance backstroker at the NCAA level. But his IMs have improved enough, too (1:49.2/3:54 to 1:47.5/3:50) to make his lineup choices a little more interesting.

17. Ben Irwin – SwimAtlanta – Buford High School – Buford, GA **Verbally committed to Georgia Tech**
(Previous Rank: N/A)
Best Times:

  • 100 back: 47.34
  • 200 back: 1:42.88
  • 100 fly: 48.16
  • 200 fly: 1:45.88

LIke Maldari, Irwin is a great 200 backstroker. He’s actually dropped even more since last year, when he was 1:46.5 in that race and just 49.5 in the 100. At this point, Irwin will probably project as a back/fly hybrid swimmer, especially if he keeps improving underwater. He’s also interesting enough in sprint free (20.7/45.8/1:39.4) that he could develop into a relay guy down the road.

18. David Schmitt – Evolution Racing Club – San Juan Hills High School – San Juan Capistrano, CA
(Previous Rank: N/A)
Best Times:

  • 200 fly: 1:44.08
  • 100 fly: 47.25

Schmitt is on a meteoric rise as a butterflyer. He was 49.8 in the 100 fly and 1:51.2 in the 200 fly as of last year, but surges into our top 20 after a seven-second drop in that 200 and a 1.6-second drop in that 100. He’s a long ways from having a good third event, but he’s so good in his primary two races that it might not matter much, at least from an individual NCAA scoring point of view.

19. Tristan DenBrok – SwimAtlanta – North Gwinnett High School – Suwanee, GA **Verbally committed to Georgia**
(Previous Rank: N/A)
Best Times: 

  • 200 free: 1:36.72
  • 500 free: 4:19.65
  • 1000 free: 8:58.72
  • 1650 free: 15:25.47

DenBrok is really great through the 200 and 500 free distances, and the real question is probably whether he’ll swim upwards towards the mile or downwards towards the sprints (where he’s 45.3 in the 100 free). Most of his best times came in the month of March, including an 8:58 in the 1000 free that’s nearly the best in the entire class. He didn’t swim the mile in that meet, so we’d expect him to see a big improvement from his current personal best (set in December of 2021) when he swims it again.

20. Andrew Taylor – Tampa Bay Aquatic Club – Countryside High School – Palm Harbor, FL **Verbally committed to Florida**
(Previous Rank: #7)
Best Times:

  • 1650 free: 15:08.83
  • 1000 free: 8:57.43 (best in class)
  • 500 free: 4:19.17
  • 200 free: 1:38.59
  • 400 IM: 3:49.78
  • 200 IM: 1:48.88

If you’re really looking for a distance prospect, Taylor will rank higher on your board than #20. He’s the best 1000 freestyler in the class with a very good mile to back it up. Getting under 4:20 in the 500 free is a great step as a high school junior, and Taylor dropped three seconds there since last year. The 400 IM is rapidly becoming his third event, which would be a great fit in the NCAA lineup.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Paring the list down to 20 always feels like pulling teeth. This isn’t an exhaustive list of others we considered, but the top few left off the list who made the decisions on 18-20 very difficult.

Mitchell Ledford – Treasure Coast Swimming – Sebastian River High School – Sebastian, FL **Verbally committed to NC State**
(Previous Rank: #6)
Best Times:

  • 100 fly: 46.64
  • 200 fly: 1:46.32

There are plenty of arguments in favor of getting Ledford into the top 20. A lot of them would hinge on how much you value his great 100 fly (46.6) vs a top 200 flyer like #18 David Schmitt. One thing Ledford really has going for him is long course production: he’s been 53.0/2:00.9 in the long course butterflys, which is really impressive. Two things hurt his standing in these ranks: his short course times haven’t dropped much since last year (46.9/1:46.3) and he doesn’t yet have a great third event at the NCAA level. If you weigh any of those three things differently and want him in your own personal top 20, I wouldn’t take any issue with it.

Ethan Harrington – Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics – Palo Alto High School – Palo Alto, CA **Verbally committed to Princeton**
(Previous Rank: N/A)
Best Times:

  • 50 free: 19.73
  • 100 free: 43.60
  • 200 free: 1:38.11
  • 100 fly: 48.23

Harrington could very easily join the tier of three-distance freestylers inside the back end of the top 20 above. He’s got better 50 free speed than most of them, and pretty comparable 100 free speed. The main difference is the range up to the 200 free that Harrington is still developing. He’s bringing it around in a hurry, though, cutting from 1:45 last year to 1:38.1 this year. The 100 fly could also turn into a nice third event.

Diggory Dillingham – Bend Swim Club – Mountain View Senior High School – Bend, OR
(Previous Rank: N/A)
Best Times:

  • 50 free: 19.52 (best in class)
  • 100 free: 43.97
  • 100 fly: 49.50

The fastest 50 freestyler in the class doesn’t even crack our top 20. That speaks to the sprint depth of this class. Dillingham doesn’t quite have the versatility, yet, to have three good individual events at NCAAs, but just going 19.5/43.9 will give him plenty of opportunity to contribute to a wide range of relays. Dillingham reminds me a lot of Dillon Downing, another top-notch sprinter who developed more of a 100-presence as he got closer to graduation.

Toby Barnett – Rockville Montgomery Swim Club – Rockville High School – Bethesda, MD **Verbally committed to Indiana**
(Previous Rank: #14)
Best Times:

  • 400 IM: 3:47.35
  • 200 IM: 1:46.73
  • 200 breast: 1:56.48
  • 200 back: 1:45.61
  • 1000 free: 9:04.43
  • 500 free: 4:26.42

Barnett has a really great 400 IM – in most classes, it feels like a 3:47.3 would crack the top 20. He’s also dropping well in the 200 IM, going from 1:48.5 last year to 1:46.7 this year. The 200 breast will probably wind up being his third event, though Barnett is also a good backstroker with a 1:45.6 in the 200.

Bert Najera – Mission Viejo Nadadores – Santa Margarita Catholic High School – Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
(Previous Rank: #18)
Best Times:

  • 400 IM: 3:47.33 (best in class)
  • 200 IM: 1:47.26
  • 200 back: 1:44.29
  • 500 free: 4:26.19
  • 200 free: 1:38.31
  • 200 fly: 1:46.85

In the thick of researching for these ranks, I found that Najera had dropped from 3:55 to 3:47 in the 400 IM over his junior year and started getting excited to write the blurb for his entry in the top 20. Imagine my chagrin later on, realizing that competition for the top 20 was so fierce I might not get to even write that blurb. Fortunately, Najera makes it as an honorable mention. And as honorable mentions go, a fast-rising 400 IMer is an awfully good value. He’s also a solid 200 IM prospect and might wind up developing as a 200 backstroker or 200 flyer as his third event.

Will Scholtz – Lakeside Swim Team – St. Xavier High School – Prospect, KY **Verbally committed to Texas**
(Previous Rank: #20)
Best Times:

  • 100 breast: 53.61
  • 200 breast: 1:57.35
  • 200 IM: 1:46.48
  • 400 IM: 3:48.75

It’s really hard to fairly evaluate breaststroke prospects. The NCAA has gotten so crazy fast in the stroke that even a 53.6/1:57.3 type like Scholtz has a long ways to go to get into NCAA scoring range. That said. breaststrokers tend to drop a lot of time at the college level, maybe based on college programs being able to specialize training groups a little better, and Scholtz is already on a massive improvement trajectory, dropping about a second in both breaststrokes and a lot more in both IMs as a junior.

Will Heck – Bolles School Sharks – Bolles School – Jacksonville, FL **Verbally committed to NC State**
(Previous Rank: #10)
Best Times:

  • 100 breast: 53.64
  • 200 breast: 1:56.01
  • 200 IM: 1:46.62
  • 50 free: 20.66

Heck is another great breaststroker who just has a ways to drop to get into NCAA scoring range (it took 52.2/1:53.2 just to book an invite last year). He’s a little better in the 200 and is coming off some great long course drops, too. In fact, he’s already just a tick off of Olympic Trials cuts in both breaststrokes with times of 1:02.6 and 2:16.4.

 

BEST OF THE REST

Some more names that came up in our research. For the purposes of space, we won’t include every top event for these athletes, but just a few of their standouts. Verbal commitments are listed where they’ve been reported. Each of these athletes is still an extremely high-level recruit:

BONUS LOOKBACK:

Feeling nostalgic? Here’s a look back at our historic recruiting class rankings, plus our retrospectives of those classes after four NCAA seasons:

Boys
Recruiting Class
High School Class of 2023 Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores
High School Class of 2022 Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores Ranks as Juniors
High School Class of 2021 Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores Ranks as Juniors
High School Class of 2020 Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores Ranks as Juniors Re-Rank As Seniors
High School Class of 2019 Ranks as Juniors Re-Rank As Seniors
High School Class of 2018 Ranks as Juniors Re-Rank As Seniors Post-college retrospective
High School Class of 2017 Ranks as Juniors Post-college retrospective
High School Class of 2016 Ranks as Juniors Post-college retrospective
High School Class of 2015 Ranks as Juniors Post-college retrospective
High School Class of 2014 Ranks as Juniors Post-college retrospective
High School Class of 2013 Ranks as Juniors Post-college retrospective

 

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Fan
3 months ago

Braden, do you rank the recruiting classes for NCAA each year?

fishtank
3 months ago

Great breakdown on a great class. Actually, I believe Buff’s 100 Fly is NOT second to Hofer’s. Buff went 45.40 and Hofer was a 45.46

G. A. Massucco
4 months ago

Jared – I enjoyed your insights and comments. I would be curious on your evaluation of a Class of ’23 student at the Baylor School named Josean Massucco – a distance and fly swimmer whose times are close to those in your Top 20 and Hon. Mentions. I see him as a top 50 recruit, but I may be biased. Your truthful assessment would be greatly appreciated.

I Miss Lochte
4 months ago

He has very nice wide lips and nice face bone structure

Anonymous
4 months ago

Don’t go to B1G Nate or any other breaststrokers. Every B1G cuts br from the scoring team. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

asdf
4 months ago

Why wasn’t my son *swimmer A* chosen for this list??? He goes a 17.61 in the 50 and a 39.89 in the 100 and he’s a great student, a boy scout, and improving rapidly. smh swimswam

Admin
Reply to  asdf
4 months ago

Your son is in the class of 2015. This article is about the class of 2023.

bobthebuilderrocks
4 months ago

Last time Florida had a top recruit, it was Maxime back in 2016 and before that, Dressel in 2014.

Riccardo
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
4 months ago

Am I supposed to feel bad that they were only able to sign Adam Chaney, Kieran Smith, Bobby Finke, Trey Freeman, Dillon Hillis, Will Davis and many other legit guys domestically during that time?

bobthebuilderrocks
Reply to  Riccardo
4 months ago

No, I just find it interesting when a top recruit isn’t from Texas or Cal.

aquajosh
Reply to  Riccardo
4 months ago

Hillis wasn’t ranked, Davis was honorable mention, Kieran was like #8 and was recruited primarily as an IMmer, I think Bobby was like #12. Adam and Trey were the only ones ranked in the top 5. Back then, Cal and Texas (sometimes Stanford) had a stranglehold on the top 5 recruits, and the comments section when Chaney signed with Florida was largely about how he must have gone there only because Cal and Texas were out of full rides.

Now they have the #1 male and female recruits of the class of 2023, and you’re going to see it happen a lot more often. Florida is doing things that are unprecedented in the modern era of American swimming, like sweeping… Read more »

Aaron
4 months ago

Ohio with 4 recruits in the top 10 is so epic

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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