Updated 2018 Swimulator Program Rankings

by Kevin Hallman 31

April 10th, 2018 ACC, College, News

The Swimulator‘s NCAA program rankings are now updated with the 2018 season’s data. The rankings now include data from the 2012 through the 2018 seasons.  The Swimulator aggregates a program’s national-level team strength, improvement, and attrition into a single score to generate a single ranking score. They are meant to provide a single measure of a NCAA swimming program’s ability to recruit, develop, and maintain swimming talent. The final calculated score is based off of a team’s z-score in each of the three categories, strength, improvement, and attrition added together.

Top ten women’s programs

Rank Team Combined Score Strength Rank Team Strength Attrition Rank Attrition Rate Improvement Rank Improvement %
1 Nebraska 389 44 401.8 51 -0.124 2 0.91
2 Georgia 369 1 691.4 36 -0.109 85 0.197
3 NC State 369 17 539.6 50 -0.122 13 0.556
4 Virginia 355 6 624.8 34 -0.108 63 0.29
5 UNC 345 10 577.6 57 -0.129 30 0.424
6 Stanford 344 4 659.2 7 -0.073 122 0.076
7 Texas A&M 332 3 660.4 118 -0.182 40 0.379
8 Missouri 319 22 504.4 27 -0.103 33 0.418
9 LSU 314 27 469.8 6 -0.072 41 0.378
10 Michigan 305 14 549.2 82 -0.154 25 0.441

Top ten men’s programs

Rank Team Combined Score Strength Rank Team Strength Attrition Rank Attrition Rate Improvement Rank Improvement %
1 NC State 382 4 575.8 36 -0.147 4 0.705
2 Florida 374 1 635.0 26 -0.135 29 0.432
3 Missouri 345 13 516.8 31 -0.145 3 0.705
4 Louisville 334 8 536.8 18 -0.125 18 0.509
5 Texas 327 2 615.0 29 -0.142 45 0.312
6 Michigan 322 3 613.8 38 -0.151 43 0.336
7 Alabama 308 16 495.4 3 -0.072 46 0.29
8 California 305 7 563.4 27 -0.14 39 0.365
9 Georgia 289 6 565.4 14 -0.115 69 0.179
10 Virginia 260 18 488.8 79 -0.2 8 0.652

NC State University – a program seemingly perpetually on the rise – tops all DI men’s programs. A more surprising University of Nebraska program with a long track record of improving their swimmers leads all women’s DI programs.

Kudos to NC State, University of Missouri, University of Virginia, University of Georgia, and the University of Michigan for placing top ten for both the men’s and women’s teams. Perhaps unsurprisingly, all four these teams share a women’s and men’s head coach: Braden Holloway at NC State, Greg Rhodenbaugh at Missouri, Todd DeSorbo for Virginia, Mike Bottom at Michigan, and Jack Bauerle at Georgia. All these coaches with the exception of DeSorbo – who moved over from NC State in 2017 to helm Virginia –  helmed their programs over the whole 2012-2018 time period.

NC State was particularly impressive. Both their women’s and men’s teams ranked in the top three! Fittingly, their head coach, Braden Holloway, was named ACC coach of the year for the men’s team. While their women’s program hasn’t quite equaled the successes of their men’s team at the national level, I expect similarly impressive results from them in their near future.

On the DII side, Wingate tops the women’s list while perennial powerhouse Drury leads the men’s. Queens University of Charlotte and Lindenwood were the two programs besides Drury to have both their men’s and women’s teams rank top ten.

For DIII, the storied Kenyon College, owners of 34 men’s and 23 women’s national championships, tops both the men’s and women’s program rankings. They narrowly edged out Emory and Williams, who were also highly ranked on both the men’s and women’s sides.

Check out the site to see the complete rankings.



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3 years ago

This Holloway guy will replace Coach Reese. Negotiations under way for a 10 year $12,000,000 deal funded by a certain UT swimming alumnus.

3 years ago

What about diving? TN would do great!

B1G Swimmer
3 years ago

This is awesome! Is there any way we can see how a single team’s scores have changed over the years rather than just current stats?

3 years ago

Can someone explain attrition ranking and why alabama is so high ranked?

Andrew Mering(@andrewmering)
Reply to  Stooooppppp
3 years ago

Kevin wrote this in a comment higher up: “Attrition is calculated by an non-senior who competed at least one meet and did not compete at all the next season.” Almost no one leaves Alabama’s men’s team. For example, every single non senior on last year’s Alabama team was back this year. That’s not typical.

2 Cents
3 years ago

Holloway did not win both men’s and women’s Coach of the Year in the ACC. The dude from L’ville won the women’s one. I would venture to say that Holloway had to have finished 3rd at best in the voting for the women’s one with DeSorbo finishing 2nd (thats a different discussion). He has probably won both in the past, but the article makes it sound like he won both this year. He did not. Just the men’s coach of the year, and deservedly so.

3 years ago


Reply to  #STATEment
3 years ago


Bob Sommers
3 years ago

“They are meant to provide a single measure of a NCAA swimming program’s ability to recruit, develop, and maintain swimming talent”. What am I missing? (I’m sure it’s something) Nebraska is ranked #1 (no offense to the Cornhuskers) but not known as a swimming power, so what does having them ranked #1 mean? Help me Mr. Wizard…..

Andrew Mering(@andrewmering)
Reply to  Bob Sommers
3 years ago

This is a ranking of best programs not fastest teams. In the “how fast are they” category (team strength) Nebraska is ranked 44th, which is pretty reasonable for a mid tier Big 10 team. Their attrition was also unexceptional (ranked 51), but it was still in the top 25%.The stat that bumped them up to #1 was their large outlier in improvement. Swimmers at Nebraska get a lot faster year to year. A lot. 2.5 standard deviations above average. Apparently Morales (yes, that Pablo Morales) can coach ’em up, but can’t recruit.

Compared to, for example, second ranked Georgia. Their best stat was their team strength (ranked #1), but that was only 1.8 standard deviations above average. Less than Nebraska’s… Read more »

The Grand inquisitor
Reply to  Andrew Mering
3 years ago

Sorry Andrew – you are lost in the weeds here. How can a program that scores 0 points in swimming at nationals rank #1 nationally?. This analysis doesn’t pass the common sense test. Improvement is an important measure, but if that improvement yields no results on the national stage, then it seems you are weighing it incorrectly.

Andrew Mering(@andrewmering)
Reply to  The Grand inquisitor
3 years ago

Maybe so. There is a clear argument for weighting the team strength component more heavily. However I think it’s worth it to try and get at the experience of a typical swimmer in a program. Do swimmers have success (are they getting faster)? Do swimmers feel swimming on the team is worth their time (are they quitting)?

The more we focus on team success, the less we emphasize the experience of majority of swimmers. Most swimmers don’t score huge points at conference or nationals. Most swimmers don’t have full rides. If tons of swimmers are quitting or being pushed out, it doesn’t reflect highly on the experience of being a part of a particular team.

Team success is basically… Read more »

The Grand inquisitor
Reply to  Andrew Mering
3 years ago

Not sure if this is the case with this analysis or not, but “improvement” needs to be normalized, otherwise it’s meaningless. In other words, it’s not meaningful to compare the relative improvement percentage of a woman that comes into a program with a 51 100 free time to someone that comes in with a 48 for obvious reasons – there’s so much more room for improvement when you are 5 secs behind the NCAA record than when you are already very close to it.

3 years ago

From the explanation on the Swimulator site, it says the improvement is only measured from upperclassman. Why? That seems to be leaving out a huge data point.