Professional sports leagues in the United States have draft day. It’s the day when all fortunes could change, it’s the day when fans and commentators can micro-sect every move, decision, and wrinkle.
In college swimming, there’s two such days: July 1st, where Division I coaches are first given free reign to contact high school seniors; and national signing day.
In honor of that day, today, we post below our top 20 rankings for the high school class of 2014, boys edition.
Our goal in these rankings is to try and reflect what college coaches look for in recruits, based on many years of conversations. Every coach has different preferences and different details they look at. For example, Georgia, who will be graduating Nic Fink after next season, will probably have breaststrokers a little higher on their lists than will Alabama: a team stacked with very good, very young swimmers in that group.
This list focuses on American-based athletes, simply because there is so much uncertainty about international recruits, when they’ll come to the USA, if they have a desire to come to the USA, and once they’ve committed, if they’ll even wind up in the USA.
This class as a whole is sort of an odd one. There’s not nearly the same name recognition outside of the top 5 as we saw last year. Just looking at the number of sub-55 second breaststrokers, it’s almost unbelievable. The number of 1:37 200 freestylers almost makes such a time unimpressive.
But in general, here’s the things that will get a recruit ranked a touch higher:
- Sprints over distance – Every team needs sprinters, and lots of them. Of course, a special distance swimmer can easily rank ahead of a very good 100 freestyler, but every honest coach in the country knows that the best sprinter in the NCAA is more valuable than the best miler in the country.
- Improvements – Actual times are a big 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.
- Conference scoring ability – yes, freshmen who score at NCAA’s, especially on the men’s side, are incredibly valuable. But college coaches know that their Athletics Directors also want to see success at conference meets, so we’ve factored that in as well.
The womens’ rankings will be coming soon as well.
Disclosure: there’s 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 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 2015
1. Andrew Seliskar – Nation’s Capital Swim Club – McLean, VA **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best times in yards: 20.06 50 free, 44.48 100 free, 46.89 100 back, 53.24 100 breast, 46.50 100 fly, 1:35.17 200 free, 1:42.17 200 back, 1:52.21 200 breast, 1:42.55 200 fly, 200 IM 1:43.22, 3:41.19 400 IM, 4:18.97 500 free.
The hardest part about narrowing down the top recruits from the class of 2015 was trying to figure out what Andrew Seliskar’s 5 best times in yards are. How do you narrow his ability down to five events with as wide of a span as he has? You don’t. He has the ability to be a key player for any team that signs him at the NCAA level.
Andrew Seliskar won the 400 IM at the 2013 Winter Nationals in Knoxville, Tennessee. He is primarily a IMer, but he has an incredible range outside of that. His butterfly is the fastest from his class, his backstroke is within the top 3, and his breaststroke is ranked second in the country, and his freestyle is sub 45. This kid is an animal, and he will be a name to watch for many years to come. He is currently a member of the US Junior national team for the 100 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, and 400 IM.
He has an older brother, Stephen, that currently swims for Purdue University. Stephen was an NCAA qualifier as a member of Purdue’s medley relays in 2013.
2. Townley Haas – Nova Of Virginia Aquatics – Richmond, VA
5 best times in yards: 43.82 100 free, 1:35.19 200 free, 4:17.45 500 free, 8:53.31 1000 free, 14:59.94 1650 free.
Townley Haas received a good amount of press this year for breaking Michael Phelps’ 15-16 500 freestyle record of 4:18.12 from 2002. He is going to be a weapon for which ever team he ends up signing with. His freestyle spans from a 43.9 100 freestyle all the way to a sub 15 minute 1650 freestyle. Townley has the ability to be a scorer in the distance events as well as a strong leg of a sprint relay, especially at the conference level. It is rare to see swimmers with this kind of range.
He is a member of the junior national team in the 200 and 400 meter freestyles.
3. Michael Thomas – Upper Dublin Aquatic Club – Horsham, PA **Verbally committed to Cal**
5 best events in yards: 46.65 100 back, 1:43.82 200 back, 1:46.18 200 IM, 1:45.83 200 fly, 20.63 50 free.
We spent a while trying to decide where Michael Thomas fits into our ranking for his class. There are a lot of fast backstrokers and IMer’s, and Michael Thomas is included in that mix. We decided to make him number three on our list because of his value as a sprinter. He has the fastest time in the country in the 100 backstroke, and has several other strong events to compliment that event. His 20.63 also fares well for his sprint freestyle ability.
When Ryan Muphy set the 15-16 NAG record in the 100 backstroke, I personally did not expect it to be broken for at least a few more years. Micahel Thomas was able to break it with a 46.65. If he can continue to follow along the same path as Ryan Murphy, his future will look very promising.
4. Carsten Vissering – Nation’s Capital Swim Club – Bethesda, MD **Verbally committed to USC**
5 best events in yards: 52.83 100 breast, 1:55.44 200 breast, 1:48.10 200 IM, 3:57.22 400 IM, 21.07 50 free.
Carsten Vissering announced that he will swim for USC, which will be a huge to relief for Trojan fans a year after largely striking-out in men’s recruiting. Vissering is the National Age Group Record holder in both the 100 yard breaststroke (52.83) and the 100 meter breaststroke (1:01.94) for the 15-16 age group. That 100 breaststroke time already makes him faster than anybody who was on USC’s roster last year, and would have been the third-best in the Pac-12 in 2014.
In other events, he’s also been 1:55.44 in the 200 breaststroke, and 1:48.1 in the 200 yard IM.
USC does have some good breaststrokers returning next season in Morten Klarskov, Sergio Lujan-Rivera, and Andrew Malone, but the latter two of those will be graduated by the time Vissering arrives on campus.
Vissering is a member of the USA Swimming Junior National Team in both the 100 and the 200 breaststroke and earned a bronze medal on the mixed medley relay at the 2013 FINA Junior World Championships.
5. Aidan Burns – Santa Clara Swim Club – Saratoga, CA **Verbally committed to Georgia**
5 best events in yards: 1:37.15 200 free, 4:17.97 500 free, 8:51.80 1000 free, 14:57.07 1650 free, 3:48.60 400 IM.
Aidan Burns is our 5th ranked recruit from the class of 2015. Burns is primarily a distance swimmer, but his backstrokes and IM’s are very competitive as well, with a 1:44.37 200 backstroke and a 1:45.36 200 IM. He will be a major player for any team that signs him. One of the only things bumping Burns down to 5th on our rankings this year is his sprinting. A lot of schools will be looking for swimmers who can score points at the conference and NCAA level; individually as well as on relays. He could be a fantastic addition to an 800 freestyle relay, but dipping down to those shorter relays isn’t likely.
His 800 freestyle is already within 8 seconds of Michael McBroom’s 1000 freestyle NCAA record, and he still has a full high school season before he gets to start swimming in the NCAA. He is currently a member of the USA Swimming junior national team because of his 400 meter freestyle.
6. Patrick Mulcare – Tualatin Hill Swim Club – Tigard, OR **Verbally committed to USC**
5 best times in yards: 47.69 100 back, 1:36.64 200 free, 1:42.99 200 back, 1:46.51 200 IM, 3:48.48 400 IM
Patrick Mulcare is another great backstroker from the class of 2015. There are a lot of great backstrokers and IMer’s this year, and Mulcare is no exception to that. Mulcare had breakout swims at the Federal Way Sectional in March of 2014, where he broke Tyler Messerschmidt’s meet record. He could be a huge contributor to the medley relays as well as the freestyle relays, with a 1:36 200 freestyle.
He will be a member of the 2014 US youth Olympic Team.
7. Cole Cogswell – Canyons Aquatic Club – Santa Clarita, CA
4 best events in yards: 20.20 50 free, 43.97 100 free, 1:36.81 200 free, 50.46 100 back,
Cole Cogswell is primarily a sprint freestyler, which is why he is ranked 7th in our class of 2015 ranking. With best times of 20.2, 43.9, and 1:36.8, he will be a huge asset as a sprint freestyler and relay swimmer. We have to keep in mind that these times are from his junior year of high school. Most sprinters gain a significant amount of body mass in college, which allows them to drop time and develop into 18 seconds sprinters.
8. Thomas Brewer – Current Swimming – Bend, OR **Verbally committed to Auburn**
5 best events in yards: 44.86 100 free, 54.32 100 breast, 1:37.91 200 free, 1:58.23 200 breast, 1:47.12 200 IM.
Normally a 54.32 100 breaststroker would stand out among his peers, but this class’ breaststroke talent is unreal. Brewer is ranked 8th in the class of 2015. His times are incredible, but he loses a little bit of stock due to where he falls within the class. Regardless, Brewer will be a great swimmer to pick up. He has a strong freestyle (44.86 100 freestyle, 1:37.91 200 freestyle) as well as a great 200 breaststroke and 200 IM. His times will allow him to score individually as well as be a major contributor on relays.
9. Ryan Harty – Greenwood Memorial Swim Club – Gardner, MA **Verbally committed to Texas**
5 best events in yards: 47.77 100 back, 1:42.02 200 back, 1:48.33 200 IM, 3:50.13 400 IM, 45.17 100 free.
Ryan Harty is ninth on our list of top recruits from the class of 2015. He is another really strong backstroker, and just like Thomas Brewer, loses a little stock due to where he falls within his class, despite his fast times. He has the fourth fastest 100 backstroke in his class. His best 200 back would have earned him a spot at the NCAA Championships. His IM’s are not as strong as his backstrokes, but they are still going to score well at the conference level and are not far away from being competitive at the NCAA championship level.
10. Alex Valente – Santa Barbara Swim Club – Santa Barbara, CA **Verbally committed to USC**
4 best events in yards: 46.69 100 fly, 1:44.10 200 fly, 49.99 100 back, 1:50.63 200 back.
The final swimmer in the top 10 from the class of 2015 is Alex Valente, the 15-16 NAG record holder in the 100 butterfly. He broke Mike Cavic’s previous record with a 46.99. Since breaking the 15-16 NAG record, he has lowered his 100 butterfly time to 46.69. His 200 butterfly is also a strength of his. He has been 1:44.10 in that event. His third collegiate event will be either the 100 or 200 backstroke. Although they aren’g as strong as his butterfly times, they can be developed into a strong third event.
Honorable Mention (11-20):
Best events in yards: 54.53 100 breast, 1:57.74 200 breast, 1:47.93 200 IM, 1:38.50 200 free, 3:51.13 400 IM.