Top “Free Agents” In The Transfer Portal for the 2023-24 Season

The 2022-23 college season is long over, and most universities have finished their academic year, which means that it’s time to look ahead to next season. While some schools have already started to release their rosters for the 2023-24 season, swimmers with their name in the transfer portal still have a decision to make: are they staying or going? And if they’re going, where are they landing?

With the time to make that choice starting to wind down, we’re taking a look at the top available “free agents” still left in the portal. There are 469 women and 399 men in the transfer portal across all divisions, so if you don’t see your favorite swimmer here, feel free to politely tell us about them in the comments. This list reflects athletes who haven’t made a decision publicly, so it’s certainly possible they already know where they’re headed and we don’t know about it yet.

Also note that entering the portal does not require an athlete to transfer; rather, it gives them the opportunity to talk to other schools about the possibility of transferring.

Top Men Still in the Portal

1. Andrei Minakov, Rising Redshirt Junior, 2023 DI NCAA Points: 15, Current School: Stanford University

Best Times:

  • 100 fly: 43.71 — 2022 DI Men’s NCAA Championships
  • 50 free: 19.07 — 2023 Men’s PAC-12 Championships
  • 100 free: 41.09 — 2022 DI Men’s NCAA Championships

Without question, the biggest name still in the portal is Andrei Minakov. He’s the 2022 NCAA champion in the 100 fly, and boasts a lifetime best of 43.71. He’s raced the last two seasons for Stanford, and in addition to being an exceptional sprint butterflier, was a huge boost on their freestyle relays. With lifetime bests of 19.07/41.09 in the 50/100 freestyle, Minakov has a ton of relay value as well. At 2022 NCAAs, he forwent the 50 free so he could swim on all five relays.

He didn’t race for Stanford during the fall semester, though he did appear at a few meets in his home country of Russia. He returned to competition for the Cardinal in January, and though he didn’t match his best times at 2023 NCAAs, he elevated their relays. Even after not matching his 2022 highs, the Tokyo Olympian should be a boost for whichever team he lands at.

Minakov entered the transfer portal with a “do not contact” notation, meaning he does not want NCAA programs to initiate contact with him.

2. Ben Sampson, Rising Redshirt Junior, 2023 DII NCAA Points: 71, Current School: Colorado Mesa

Best Times:

  • 200 back: 1:40.73 — 2022 Colorado Mesa Invite (@ altitude)
  • 200 IM: 1:43.76 — 2022 Colorado Mesa Invite (@ altitude)
  • 400 IM: 3:45.23 — 2022 Colorado Mesa Invite (@ altitude)

Minakov is the biggest name in the portal, but Ben Sampson is perhaps the most intriguing one. This season’s Division II Swimmer of the Year, Sampson started writing his name in the Division II history books as a freshman and only continued to improve as a sophomore. In November 2022, he blasted a 1:40.73 200 back at altitude, faster than the division record. That time would’ve been 15th at 2023 DI NCAAs.

At the same meet, he swam personal bests in his two other main events: the 200 and 400 IM. He didn’t match any of his bests at in March at NCAAs, but he still came away as the NCAA champion in the 200 IM (1:44.33) and 200 back (1:41.54). He also finished third in the 400 IM (3:45.98) and swam on three scoring relays.

A Colorado native, Sampson is clearly comfortable swimming at altitude. When he entered the portal, he told SwimSwam he hadn’t decided to transfer but wanted to explore his options. “I love Colorado Mesa and the people here so much so it will take a lot to get me to leave but I wanted to look at schools with good backstroke programs that can push me to the next level,” he said. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

3. Hudson McDaniel, Rising Fifth-Year, 2023 DI NCAA Points: n/a, Current School: Ohio State

Best Times:

  • 100 breast: 51.55 — 2021 DI Men’s NCAA Championships
  • 200 breast: 1:57.51 — 2022 Men’s Big Ten Championships
  • 200 IM: 1:55.83 — 2017 NW Ohio District DI Championships

Though he was on the Buckeyes’ roster for the 2022-23 season, Hudson McDaniel didn’t race for OSU this season. He last competed at the LCM 2022 U.S Nationals. That does leave some questions as to his racing form, but based on his best times, McDaniel could offer a team solid breaststroke speed in his final year of NCAA eligibility.

“I’m looking forward to use my 5th year somewhere that best fits me and my goals,” McDaniel told SwimSwam when he entered the portal. “OSU was great but I am looking to just change it up for my last year of eligibility.”

McDaniel qualified for NCAAs in both 2021 and 2022. In 2022, he finished 31st in the 100 breaststroke with a 52.67, a few tenths off the 52.34 he swam to finish seventh at the 2022 Men’s Big Ten Championships.

4. Kacper Piotrowski, Rising Senior, 2023 DI NCAA Points: 0, Current School: Alabama

Best Times:

  • 50 free: 19.61 — 2022 SEC Championships
  • 100 free: 43.01 — 2022 SEC Championships
  • 200 free: 1:34.53 — 2023 SEC Championships

One of many Alabama swimmers to enter the portal, Kacper Piotrowski is a freestyler specializing in the 50/100/200, making him an intriguing option for teams looking to bolster their relay depth. The Polish swimmer’s lifetime bests in the 50/100 come from 2022, where he went 19.61/43.01 at SECs.

This past season, Piotrowski earned 14 points at SECs for Alabama, highlighted by his 15th place 200 free finish in a personal best 1:34.53. Piotrowski was also a key part of Alabama’s 800 free relay, helping them to 3rd at SECS and 10th  at NCAAs, anchoring in 1:34-mid both times. He was a relay-only swimmer at 2023 NCAAs.

“At the beginning of April I was told that I’m not the best fit for the direction of Alabama’s Swim & Dive program,” Piotrowski told SwimSwam when he entered the portal. “I’ve never thought I’d be in the position that I’m in right now, so I decided to put my name in the transfer portal. Even though this one hurts and still does not feel right, I wish nothing but the best for Bama’s program. It was a privilege to represent the script of A and the University of Alabama.”

Top Women Still in the Portal

1. Sarah Foley, Rising Senior, 2023 DI NCAA Points: 20, Current School: Duke University

Best Times:

  • 200 IM: 1:54.12 — 2023 ACC Championships
  • 400 IM: 4:06.25 — 2023 ACC Championships
  • 200 breast: 2:05.78 — 2022 DI Women’s NCAA Championships

After arriving at Duke as primarily a sprint breaststroker, Sarah Foley has shifted focus dramatically towards the IMs and 200 breaststroke during her three seasons as a Blue Devil. She’s earned All-American status in each of her last three seasons, including consecutive First Team nods in the 200 IM for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Of the women remaining in the transfer portal, Foley scored the most (20) at 2023 Division I NCAAs.

In addition to the lifetime bests she swam at 2023 ACCs in her primary events, Foley also clocked lifetime bests in sprint free earlier in the season. At her midseason invite, she swam 23.65/49.07 in the 50/100 freestyle. Her versatility has made her valuable for Duke, as she swam on both their 800 and 200 free relays at NCAAs. She led off the 800 free relay in 1:43.92, just off her personal best 1:43.85.

If Foley does end up transferring, it won’t be until the 2024-25 season, as she plans on finishing out this year at Duke before potentially swimming her fifth year of eligibility elsewhere.

2. Liberty Williams, Rising Senior, 2023 DI NCAA Points: 9, Current School: Louisville University

Best Times:

  • 500 Free: 4:38.82 — 2022 ACC Championships
  • 1650 Free: 15:43.21 — 2022 ACC Championships

2022 ACC Champion Liberty Williams enters the transfer portal after spending three seasons at Louisville. She’s a distance freestyler, and won her conference title in the 1650 free. She’s been top three in that event every year she’s competed.

Willams’ breakout came during her sophomore year. That’s when she earned her ACC title, swimming a lifetime best 15:43.21. She added time at NCAAs, but still finished 13th, earning her first All-American honor. This year, she saved her best for NCAAs, dropping time from ACCs and finishing ninth (15:55.29). Though she was off her personal best, the points she scored helped Louisville to a program-best fourth place finish.

Throughout her career, Williams has shown that she’s capable of scoring at both the conference and national levels, making her a valuable addition to most distance crews in the country. She has two years of eligibility remaining, which includes the bonus COVID year.

3. Deniz Ertan, Rising Sophomore, 2023 DI NCAA Points: 2, Current School: Georgia Tech

Best Times:

  • 500 free: 4:38.04 — 2023 ACC Championships
  • 1650 free: 15:55.77 — 2023 ACC Championships
  • 400 IM: 4:09.68 — 2022 Georgia Fall Invitational

Deniz Ertan made her mark quickly at Georgia Tech, breaking school records as early as October. She’s not necessarily transferring, but entered the portal to “explore her options.”

The 200 fly Turkish national record holder, Ertan adjusted quickly to yards, though she’s known for her distance freestyle rather than butterfly skills. She was the only Georgia Tech swimmer to qualify for NCAAs, though they did send diver Anna Bradescu as well. At NCAAs, Ertan scored 2 points via her 15th place finish in the 1650 free, which tied the Yellowjackets for 39th overall.

Her best meet of the season was ACCs, where she won both the 500 and 1650 freestyle in lifetime bests. In the 500, she swam 4:38.04, and clocked 15:55.77 in the 1650 free. Distance swimmers aren’t necessarily the most prized swimmers because of the NCAA’s emphasis on sprinting and relays, but Ertan could be an interesting addition to a distance freestyle group if she does decide to transfer.

4. Ayla Spitz, Rising Fifth-Year, 2023 DI NCAA Points: 0, Current School: Cal 

Best Times:

  • 200 free: 1:44.10 — 2021 Women’s PAC-12 Championships
  • 500 free: 4:38.05 — 2021 Women’s PAC-12 Championships
  • 200 back: 1:53.21 — 2021 Women’s PAC-12 Championships

All-American Ayla Spitz isn’t a recent addition to the transfer portal; she first entered in June 2022, one of many Cal women to enter the portal around that time. However, Spitz said when she entered that she was looking ahead to explore options for her fifth-year of eligibility. Now, the moment of truth has arrived: will Spitz transfer for a fifth-year or remain in Berkeley?

As shown from her personal bests, her best season times wise came during her sophomore season, where she hit lifetime bests in all three of her primary events. PAC-12s was her best meet of the 2022-23 season as well, as she swam season bests in the 200 free (1:44.94) and the 500 free (4:39.93).

Those earned her an NCAA berth, where her best individual finish was placing 20th in the 500 free (4:41.20). Her time from PAC-12s would’ve earned her a second swim. Spitz also swam on Cal’s 4th place 800 free relay (1:43.84 split) and 12th place 400 free relay (48.76 split).

More Names To Watch

Men

  • Collin McKenzieRising Sophomore: 2023 DI NCAA Points: n/a, Current School: NC State
  • Federico BurdissoRising Fifth-Year, 2023 DI NCAA Points: n/a, Past School: Northwestern University
  • Cherantha De SilvaRising Fifth-Year, 2023 DIII NCAA Points: 18, Current School: Kenyon College
  • Marko KrtinicRising Senior, 2023 DIII NCAA Points: 6, Current School: Kenyon College
  • Ethan HeasleyRising Fifth-Year, 2023 DI NCAA Points: n/a, Current School: Texas
  • Matthew Tannenberger, Rising Senior, 2023 DI NCAA Points: n/a, Current School: Texas

Women

  • Jocelyn FisherRising Fifth-Year, 2023 DI NCAA Points: 0, Current School: Alabama
  • Mariella VenterRising Fifth-Year, 2023 DI NCAA Points: 0, Current School: Michigan
  • Esme WrightRising Senior, 2023 DIII NCAA Points: 13, Current School: Denison
  • Danielle Titus, Rising Senior, 2023 DI NCAA Points: n/a, Current School: Tulane
  • Claire Dafoe, Rising Freshman, 2023 DI NCAA Points: n/a, Current School: South Carolina

Notable Divers In The Portal

  • Emanuel Vazquez Bas, Rising Fifth-Year, 2023 Men’s DI NCAA Points: 15, Current School: South Carolina
  • Daria LenzRising Fifth-Year, 2023 Women’s DI NCAA Points: n/a, Current School: Stanford

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swimws
6 months ago

Mcdaniel going to “choke” somewhere else?

SwimmerTX
8 months ago

I take back my previous comment, Ayla Spitz is headed to Northwestern (according to Instagram bio)

Sherry Smit
8 months ago

Isn’t Mallory Sclicher (not spelled right) from florida in the transfer portal?

Bupwa
8 months ago

Minakov a great fit training under Marsh/Durden who knows how fast he can go! Looks like “da Bears” win again in 2024!

Reid
Reply to  Bupwa
8 months ago

If they do get him it’ll likely be close. ASU gets everyone except House back, and no one on Cal has announced a fifth year I believe, so they return about 50 fewer points at the moment. Minakov would help close the gap, and Cal has a stronger class coming in overall. That said ASU gets Kharun who will probably be worth at least 2 A finals immediately while Cal’s guys may take more time to develop. Looking like it’ll be another good meet

Some fan
Reply to  Reid
8 months ago

Pretty sure David Schlicht is out of eligibility too after Arizona & ASU yrs. Anyone know?

Reid
Reply to  Some fan
8 months ago

I think he took a redshirt at Arizona and then competed there in 2021 so should have a fifth year left

Andrew
8 months ago

LMAOO to the addition of Burdisso

Fartman
8 months ago

Minakov went to cal!

swimmer
8 months ago

Word is Minakov is going to Cal

Andrew
Reply to  swimmer
8 months ago

i suspected so but hoped it wasn’t true

Cal is a bunch of soft cowards nestled in the true hellhole that is Berkeley CA. I would hope Minakov wouldn’t ring chase and was especially optimistic that Minakov wouldn’t go to Cal because the Bears HATE Russians (namely Murphy). Truly a shame and I can’t wait for Durden to get so much undue credit when Minakov gets back to 50.2 LCM 1 fly form (where he was in 2019)

Reid
Reply to  swimmer
8 months ago

So is this confirmed or are we all just upvoting because we love the bears

Swamswim
8 months ago

Danielle Titus committed to University of Houston

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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