Way Too Early Recruit Ranks: Boys High School Class of 2021

We continue our traditional spring recruiting coverage with our “Way Too Early” ranks of the current high school sophomore class. As top recruits continue to give verbal commitments earlier and earlier, we’re moving up our rankings to help give better context to big recruiting announcements. (Click here to see the “Way Too Early” list of girls for 2021.)

Before we run over our traditional ranking methodology, we should head off a few counterarguments at the pass:

  • Isn’t this too early to have a good read on talent? Aren’t 16-year-old kids still improving? Maybe. On the other hand, coaches are clearly finding roster spots for kids who verbally commit this early. And if we and our readership want to have the most accurate picture of how the recruiting season is playing out, it’ll be useful to have some sort of ranking – even one still very much in flux – to refer to as big-name swimmers commit.
  • But recruiting ranks don’t matter. It’s the fast-dropping swimmers and diamonds in the rough that really have the biggest NCAA impact. Not true. There are always fast-rising swimmers who quickly develop into NCAA stars. But there are far less of them than there are elite high school prospects that become high-impact NCAA swimmers. We all love the Cinderella stories, the unranked recruits who flourish into dominators. But even those rags-to-riches stories aren’t as fleshed out if they don’t have a clearly-defined “rags” setup. These ranks help show us who is most likely to become NCAA standouts… but also contextualize where the eventual breakout stars originally rated compared to peers. If you, your favorite swimmer or your son/daughter isn’t ranked, don’t get mad – see it as the starting point for your/their rise to stardom.
  • How accurate can these be with two plus years of development to go before any of these swimmers compete in the NCAA? Who knows? This is as new to us as it is to you. For these ranks, we’re a little less concerned with actual NCAA scoring times than we are in our junior/senior ranks, and probably marginally more interested in “ceilings” – wide event ranges, versatility, etc. But as with any ranking, these are ultimately nothing more than a snapshot in time: what the top of this recruiting class looks like in the moment, with full admission that a lot of these ranks can and will change by the time they finish their senior years.


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:

  • 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 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 reverse.
  • 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.


  • Sprint-heavy class across pretty much all strokes
  • Weaker in the 200/500 frees
  • Versatility reigns supreme
  • Deep distance free group, but not top-of-the-class standout
  • Great breaststroke group at the top
  • Very thin in fly/back

This is an oddly-consistent class, in that it’s pretty significantly stronger in the sprints than distance events, across all strokes. There are a couple notable exceptions, of course, but the trend is characterized pretty well by the top 6, four of whom are sprinters between 19.6 and 20.0 in the 50 free.

In freestyle, in particular, it’s an outstanding sprint class. Last year’s sophomore class had no boys under 20 seconds in the 50 free; this year’s group has three. This class of 2021 group as sophomores actually compare pretty favorably to the preceding three classes as juniors when you look at top times in the class for the 50 and 100 free:

Top Times in the Class:

  • Class of 2021 (as sophomores): 19.67 / 43.07
  • Class of 2020 (as sophomores): 20.08 / 43.62
  • Class of 2020 (as juniors): 19.55 / 43.00
  • Class of 2019 (as juniors): 19.62 / 43.52
  • Class of 2018 (as juniors): 19.66 / 42.99

The flip side is that this class is way behind the past few classes in the 200 and 500 frees. We’ve noted over the past three classes (Drew Kibler & the class of 2018; Jack Walker & the class of 2019; Carson Foster & the class of 2020) how loaded the 200 free fields have been, with 1:32/1:33/1:34 types aplenty. This year’s sophomore class has no one below 1:36 at the moment, and though that could change by next year, this recruiting class still isn’t the best place to go searching for a stud 200 freestyler – for programs that didn’t load up on them in the last few classes, competing in an 800 free relay is going to be tricky in what’s become a loaded NCAA.

Same story in the 500, where we’ve seen 4:14s in two of the past three recruiting classes, but don’t have anyone under 4:23 in this year’s group. Recruiting the mid-distances is going to rely a lot more on picking the fast-rising, high-upside talents than it has the past few years.

While this class isn’t outstanding in vertical range, it’s superb in its horizontal versatility – crossing over between stroke disciplines. Our top two standouts can’t realistically be categorized as “freestyler,” “backstroker” or “butterflier.” And that trend carries through to the later recruits as well – we have a lot of good IMers who can also swim a couple strokes well. We’ve got a handful of good sprint freestylers who also cross over into breaststroke. Some of these swimmers will see their primary events come into better focus as they get older, but in general, this class should give coaches a lot of lineup flexibility, and may see different coaches recruiting the same athlete for a different discipline.

The mid-distance dearth extends to the upper distances a little bit. There’s not a true standout miler in the class yet, after the last few classes have all had a sub-15:00 type already in the mix. But the class is relatively deep with milers in the 15:30-15:40 range. No one comes down to the 200/500 at an elite level yet, but there’s still time for development, and a few intriguing prospects who already show impressive range.

As far as specific strokes go, this class is outstanding in breaststroke, especially the 100, where there are a pair of 52s and quite a few 53s dotting the recruiting market. Things are a little more thin in fly and back – there’s pretty good top-end talent in the 100s of each, but the 200s are relatively thin.

Top Times in the Class of 2021
50 Free Anthony Grimm 19.67
100 Free Jack Alexy 43.07
200 Free Garrett Boone 1:36.65
500 Free Trent Frandson 4:23.15
1000 Free** Matt Fallon 9:05.12
1650 Free Peter Thompson 15:17.66
100 Back Anthony Grimm 45.60
200 Back Tyler Lu 1:43.14
100 Breast Anthony Grimm 52.51
200 Breast Matt Fallon 1:54.27
100 Fly Aidan Hayes 46.64
200 Fly Matthew Fenlon 1:45.03
200 IM Tyler Lu 1:45.58
400 IM Matt Fallon 3:44.08

**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.

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

Disclaimer: there are a lot of high school sophomores 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.


1. Anthony Grimm – Mason Makos Swim Team – Oakton High School – Fairfax, VA **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times: 100 back – 45.60, 100 breast – 52.51, 50 free – 19.67, 100 fly – 47.40, 50 back – 20.87

Grimm is the headliner of this versatile sprinting class. He’s got the best time in the recruiting class in the 100 back, 100 breast and 50 free – a pretty unorthodox event combo at the NCAA level, but one that shows a pretty impressive speed portfolio. Grimm already has NCAA invite times in the 100 back and 100 breast, one of just two boys in this class with invite times as sophomores. Grimm has come on very strong in the past year, dropping from 47.9 to 45.6 in the backstroke, 56.3 to 52.5 in the breaststroke and from 21.1 to 19.6 in the 50 free. Some other key events seem primed to have similar time drops in the near future. When you’re 45.6 in the 100 back but only 47.5 in the 100 free, something doesn’t add up. Grimm hasn’t logged an official 100 free swim since dropping almost a second down to that 47.5 back in late 2017. His speed in each of the four strokes individually suggests that he’s a lot faster than the 1:52 200 IM he put up in 2018 (and you have to imagine at least a few college coaches are wondering if Grimm could have Dressel-like crossover potential into the short course IM). We also don’t usually include 50 stroke splits in our “best times,” but Grimm made a lot of waves with his 20.8 backstroke leadoff at Virginia’s high school state meet – a time that would have been better than all but three leadoff legs of the 200 medley relay at men’s NCAAs.

2. Aiden Hayes – Sooner Swim Club – Norman North High School – Norman, OK **Verbally committed to NC State**
Best Times: 100 fly – 46.64, 50 free – 19.73, 100 back – 47.26, 200 fly – 1:47.01, 100 free – 45.15

Hayes is another great multi-stroke sprinter with immense value in the NCAA scoring format. A 46.6 fly is no joke out of high school – that’s comparable to the best flyers in the classes of 2019 and 2018 as juniors, and it’s actually three tenths faster than the class of 2020’s top flyer (one Luca Urlando) was as a sophomore when we ranked his class. Hayes is also outstanding at the 50 free and 100 back, which makes him a great relay prospect. Like Grimm, Hayes is on an awesome improvement curve: as a freshman, he was 48.3 in fly, 49.2 in back and 20.5/46.8 in free. And Hayes may also develop into a great two-distance flyer after dropping from 1:52 to 1:47.0 over the last year in the 200 fly.

3. Matthew Fallon – Somerset Valley YMCA – The Pingry School – Warren, NJ
Best Times: 400 IM – 3:44.08, 200 breast – 1:54.27, 100 breast – 54.00, 200 IM – 1:48.25, 500 free – 4:26.06, 1000 free – 9:05.12, 1650 free – 15:45.96

We said there were a few notable exceptions to this class’s trend towards the sprints, and Fallon is the main one. He’s a pretty elite 400 IMer already, comparable to where Carson Foster (3:44.1) was when we ranked his class as sophomores. He’s mere tenths out of NCAA invite range in both the 400 IM and 200 breast, and carries a few good options for a third NCAA event, likely the 200 IM or 500 free. What makes Fallon so exciting, though, is his incredible improvement in the 400 IM since last year. Fallon dropped from 3:52 as a freshman to 3:44 as a sophomore. He also took his 200 breast from 1:59 to 1:54, and his 500 free from 4:31 to 4:26.

4. Joshua Matheny – Team Pittsburgh Elite Aquatics – Upper St. Clair High School – Pittsburgh, PA **Verbally committed to Indiana**
Best Times: 100 breast – 52.52, 200 breast – 1:55.03, 200 IM – 1:49.00, 400 IM – 3:53.87

That’s right: three of our top four swimmers have at least one breaststroke race among their top events. Matheny is the first primary breaststroker, though. He’s .01 behind Grimm for the best 100 breast in the class, and is dropping well in both: Matheny was 54.5/1:58.2 as of last year. He’s also had great IM drops (from 1:52/4:01), though he needs to keep the drops coming to reach NCAA scoring level there. Matheny has a beautiful stroke up and down the pool, even if he’s not the best underwater – that was on full display at last summer’s long course Junior Nationals, where Matheny came up a ways back of the field and then swam right past everyone to go 1:01.0. He’s a very, very good long course swimmer, with a 2:12.6 in the long course 200 breast as well. He can be an NCAA factor even without improving his pullouts much, but if he makes some underwater gains in the next few years, he’ll be a monster of a breaststroker in college.

5. Jack Alexy – Somerset Hills YMCA – The Delbarton School – Mendham, NJ **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best Times: 100 free – 43.07, 50 free – 20.07, 200 free – 1:36.81, 500 free – 4:26.25, 100 back – 48.17, 200 back – 1:46.19

This class is loaded with great sprinters, and Alexy is the best three-distance sprinter of the bunch. He’s got the class’s best 100 free to pair with a 200 free only a few tenths out of being the top time in the class. And his 50 free might even be better than that 200 – he just happens to fall among a bunch of historically fast high school 50 guys. Alexy seems to be just starting to figure out the upper end of his range. While his 50 and 100 have had moderate drops, his 200 cut from 1:40.9 to 1:36.8 and his 500 from 5:15 to 4:26 over his sophomore year. His backstrokes probably won’t pass up his freestyles as event focuses, but his 200 back does rank pretty highly in the class at this point.

6. Tyler Lu – Seattle Metropolitan Aquatic Club – Kirkland, WA
Best Times: 200 IM – 1:45.58, 200 back – 1:43.14, 100 back – 47.34, 400 IM – 3:48.14, 200 breast – 2:01.39, 200 free – 1:39.04, 100 free – 45.03, 50 free – 20.41

Lu is an extremely versatile prospect with the class’s best 200 IM by a longshot. 1:45.5 is a great time out of high school, and he’s gotten there from a 1:50.2 as of last spring. Lu also has the best 200 back in the class by a good margin. Lu is probably even better recruiting value than his times suggest, because he fills a few roles that are pretty rare in this class. There aren’t as many endurance types, and his 200 IM/200 back/400 IM/200 breast/200 free combo shows a lot of endurance. He’s also easily the best two-distance backstroker in what’s a pretty thin backstroke class.

7. David Curtiss – Hamilton Y Aquatic Club – Pennington School – Yardley, PA **Verbally committed to NC State**
Best Times: 50 free – 19.70, 100 free – 44.08, 100 back – 49.41

Curtiss is more of a drop-dead sprint type with more sheer speed than Alexy, but less range. One thing that stands out when you watch Curtiss is his great start – he’s very explosive, and gets into the water clean. Starts can be a tricky thing to teach and learn, and Caeleb Dressel has proven just how vital a great start-to-15-meters can be in short course yards. Curtiss also carries his speed into and out of his flip turns very well – another great quality in yards swimming. His 100 has improved from 45.2 at this time last year to 44.0, so his endurance is on its way around. It’s hard to say if he’ll ever extend up to the 200 (his lifetime-best is just 1:46), but he could also develop as a 100 backstroker or flyer, or just key in on the 50/100 combo and swim five relays. If there’s one place you can really specialize in the NCAA without giving up scoring opportunities, it’s the 50 and 100 free. We should note that Curtiss has a lot of skills that translate well to short course, but he’s far from a short course-only swimmer. He was 22.6 in the 50 long course meter free last summer.

8. Tim Connery – SwimMAC Carolina – Christ the King Catholic High School – Davidson, NC **Verbally committed to Michigan**
Best Times: 100 back – 47.24, 200 IM – 1:47.85, 100 breast – 53.74, 200 breast – 1:59.85, 50 free – 20.42, 100 free – 44.31, 200 back – 1:49.02, 100 fly – 48.06, 400 IM – 3:53.90

Connery is yet another do-everything type, and he’s one of the harder members of this class to project. His 100 back and 100 breast are probably his most impressive times at the moment, but that’s a pretty unworkable NCAA combo. His stroke range suggests he should be a powerhouse IMer, but he hasn’t logged a single IM swim in short course or long course this season. He had long course breakthroughs last summer, though, in IM (2:01/4:32) and breaststroke (1:02/2:21) while also going 55 in fly and back. There’s no doubt that Connery is a really, really big talent who will develop into a solid NCAA weapon somewhere, if not across several disciplines.

9. Garrett Boone – Aquatic Team of Mecklenburg – South Mecklenburg High School – Charlotte, NC **Verbally committed to NC State**
Best Times: 200 free – 1:36.65, 100 free – 44.82, 50 free – 20.26, 200 IM – 1:47.49500 free – 4:27.55, 200 back – 1:47.47, 100 fly – 48.65, 200 fly – 1:48.27

Boone is one of the better options in the class across all three relay-distance freestyles. He’s got the class’s best 200 free, and comes down to a pretty good 50 free as well. His 100 actually feels like the odd swim out, not quite to the level of his 50 or 200, so watch for that time to come down over the next few years. Boone has a very good improvement curve: he was 1:40.9/45.8/20.9 a year ago in freestyle. He’s also got a very solid 200 IM that has dropped four seconds over the past year, and shows enough developmental potential in fly and back that he can’t be pigeonholed as a straight freesyler.

10. Luke Barr – Sarpy County Swim Club – Papillon Lavista High School – Papillon, NE **Verbally committed to Indiana**
Best Times: 200 IM – 1:47.91, 50 free – 20.17, 100 free – 44.72, 100 breast – 54.50, 200 breast – 1:59.18

Here’s another versatile talent, and probably the fastest riser in the entire class. One year ago, Barr was 58.2/2:06.8 in the breaststrokes – he’s cut four seconds in the 100 and more than seven in the 200. He went from a 1:53 IM to a 1:47, and from 22.7/47.6 in the sprints to 20.1/44.7. Barr is on an absolute tear, and in 2019 alone, he’s set personal-bests in almost all of his events (50 free/100 free/100 back/100 breast/200 breast/200 IM). He could project as a breaststroker, a sprint freestyler, an IMer or some combination of the three, with a lot of options for relay scoring.

11. Hayden Zheng – Aquajets Swim Team – St. Louis Park High School – St. Louis Park, MN
Best Times: 100 breast – 53.86, 200 breast – 1:58.11, 200 IM – 1:48.25, 400 IM – 3:55.28, 200 free – 1:40.43

Zheng has been a great IMer for awhile, but really jumped onto the radar with a drop from 56.4 to 53.8 this year in the 100 breast. He’s got a very powerful arm catch, and manages to turn up his tempo without spinning or slipping. Zheng also broke through this high school season from 1:50.5 to 1:48.2 in the 200 IM, and could surge toward the front of the class if that improvement curve keeps up. He’s got two good breaststroke races, and 200 IM/100 breast/200 breast is a natural fit for an NCAA event lineup. He’s also just starting to get a handle on his 400 IM, dropping four seconds there this spring.

12. Sam Hoover – North Carolina Aquatic Club – Chapel Hill Senior High School – Chapel Hill, NC **Verbally committed to NC State**
Best Times: 50 free – 20.30, 100 free – 44.43, 200 free – 1:37.84, 100 breast – 55.05, 200 breast – 2:00.74, 100 fly – 48.92, 200 IM – 1:48.78

Another good free/breast hybrid who right now hangs hit hat on superior speed, but who seems to be developing his endurance fast. Hoover has great 50/100 free speed that makes him an excellent relay piece. Meanwhile his 200 free has come down from 1:43.5 last year, and his 200 breast from 2:07.7. His IM is the fastest-rising race, dropping from 2:02.9 last year to a 1:48.7 this March. As Hoover continues to improve at 200-yard events, he’s becoming the complete package as a recruit, with a really high ceiling and lots of relay value. Hoover is also our third North Carolina high schooler to appear in the top 11 this year.

13. Trent Frandson – Central Iowa Aquatics – Ankeny Senior High School – Ankeny, IA **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best Times: 500 free – 4:23.15, 200 free – 1:37.75, 100 free – 45.14, 50 free – 20.85, 1000 free – 9:23.28, 1650 free – 15:27.58

The best 500 freestyler in the class, Frandson is currently the top mid-distance free option on the market. He doesn’t have one single event that really stands out yet, but he’s got solid range from the 50 up to the mile, and is dropping across the board. Frandson hit lifetime-best in the 50, 100 and 200 frees in February, and lifetime-bests in the 500 and 1650 back in December, going from 21.7/47.1/1:41/4:29/15:43 to 20.8/45.1/1:37/4:23/15:27. That’s stellar improvement across a wide range of events. If the whole gamut keeps improving at a similar rate, Frandson could go from a good prospect to a true blue-chipper – he’s really not far off being the best miler in the class, who can also go sub-20 in the 50 free.

14. Connor Boyle – Fox Valley Swim Team – Neuqua Valley High School – Naperville, IL **Verbally committed to Virginia**
Best Times: 50 free – 20.26, 100 free – 44.43, 200 free – 1:38.63

Boyle is another good three-distance freestyler who slants a little more to the sprints. He just broke 21 in the 50 for the first time this March, going from 21.0 all the way to 20.2. He cut about a second in his 100 free and has also slugged 5 seconds off his 200 free time. Boyle doesn’t really bring any other strokes to the table, but doesn’t have to with this event lineup, which can contribute in any of the five relays down the road.

15. Matthew Fenlon – Badger Swim Club – Horace Greeley High School – Sleepy Hollow, NY
Best Times: 200 back – 1:45.71, 200 fly – 1:45.03, 200 IM – 1:47.74, 200 free – 1:37.49

Fenlon is your classic 200 specialist – he excels at the 200s of every stroke but breaststroke (including IM), without dominating in the 100 of anything. Fenlon has the best 200 fly in the class at 1:45.0, and a very good 200 back. He may have to choose between those two at the NCAA level, but could just as easily project as a 200 IM/200 free/200 fly type in an NCAA meet lineup. Fenlon has had solid improvements as a sophomore, from 1:48 in the 200 fly, 1:49 in the 200 IM and 1:39 in the 200 free. It wouldn’t take much for him to take over as the best 200 freestyler in this class, and that’d boost his recruiting value a lot in next year’s re-rank.

16. Peter Thompson – Billings Aquatic Club – Billings Senior High School – Billings, MT **Verbally committed to Virginia**
Best Times: 1650 free – 15:17.66, 1000 free – 9:05.95, 500 free – 4:29.14, 200 free – 1:40.41, 400 IM – 3:57.42

The class’s best miler, Thompson checks in fairly low on this list, in part because his mile has a ways to go to get to NCAA invite level (it took 14:54 last year) and because he doesn’t yet come down really well to the 500 or 200 frees. But he’s got potential to be outstanding in that whole range with sophomore year drops in his mile (24 seconds), 500 (4 seconds) and 200 (3 seconds). The underrated part of his portfolio is the 400 IM, which could be a sneaky-good third event if Thompson ultimately develops more endurance without the speed to push a 200 free. Thompson went from 4:10 to 3:57 in his 400 IM over the last year.

17. Arsenio Bustos – Woodbridge Aquatic Club – Amity Regional High School – Orange, CT **Verbally committed to NC State**
Best Times: 100 breast – 55.38, 200 breast – 2:00.51, 50 free – 20.59, 100 free – 44.87, 200 free – 1:39.54, 200 IM – 1:48.35

Bustos is a good breaststroker who over the past year has rocketed into the top of the class in sprint freestyle. He’s a 55.3/2:00 breaststroker (down from 57.3/2:06 a year ago), and has gone from 23.9/47.7/1:46 in freestyle to 20.5/44.8/1:39. That 200 IM is another dark-horse third event, dropping from 1:54 last year. He certainly needs more development to put himself in line for relay roles, but has great potential down the road to be a 200/400 medley, 200/400 free relay candidate.

18. Jack Aikins – SwimAtlanta – West Forsyth High School – Cumming, GA **Verbally committed to Virginia**
Best Times: 50 free – 20.34, 100 free – 45.11, 200 free – 1:39.35, 200 back – 1:46.65

Aikins is also on a tear in the freestyles, and he adds to this class’s really deep group of 50/100 guys. His 200 is starting to come around (1:44 to 1:39 as a sophomore), and his 100 has dropped from 48.0 a year ago. For a guy who specializes in sprints, that 1:46 backstroke is a pretty intriguing time. He’s only 50.2 in the 100 back at this point, but with 1:46-endurance and a 45-second 100 free, you can’t help but wonder if he’s in line for a 100 back breakout in the next few years.

19. Luke Hobson – Lakeridge Swim Team – Reno High School – Reno, NV **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times: 50 free – 20.84, 100 free – 44.98, 200 free – 1:38.63, 500 free – 4:27.20, 1000 free – 9:13.41, 1650 free – 15:33.09

Hobson has outstanding range – these are the type of guys who tend to jump from #19 in our ranks to a top 8 spot with just moderate improvements across the board. And right now, Hobson is making more than moderate improvements. He set lifetime-bests in every freestyle event between December 2018 and April 2019, including drops of 37 seconds in the mile, 19 seconds in the 1000, 6 seconds in the 500, 2 seconds in the 200, 2.2 in the 100 and almost a full second in the 50.

20. Aidan Reagan – Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics – Salpointe Catholic High School – Tucson, AZ
Best Times: 1650 free – 15:22.92, 1000 free – 9:19.04, 500 free – 4:26.65, 200 free – 1:41.24

Reagan is another solid miler who doesn’t come down to the 200/500 at a really high level yet. In terms of this class, he’s actually a pretty highly-ranked 500 freestyler, but when it takes 4:16 just to secure an NCAA invite and 4:14 to score, nobody in this class is a sure thing there. He’s on the right track, though: he was 4:38 in the 500 free at NCSAs in 2018, and dropped a 4:26 at the same meet one year later. He also chopped 24 seconds off his mile at the same meet.


We’re throwing in one more short list – a handful of swimmers who piqued our interest. They didn’t yet have the full complement of times to make our top 20, but seemed to have enough intrigue that we’ve earmarked them as names to keep an eye on over the next year, where they could develop into top threats for one reason or another.

  • Kamal Muhammad (Spartan Aquatic Club / Lakeside High School / Atlanta, GA)
    Muhammad is another good sprinter (20.8/44.5) in freestyle, and he’s had solid drops as a sophomore. His third event is somewhere between a 48.7 fly and a 1:40.7 200 free.
  • Kai Crews (Truckee-Tahoe Swim Team / Truckee High School / Truckee, CA) **Verbally committed to Cal**
    There’s kind of a logjam of guys in the 20/44/1:39 area in the sprint freestyles, and Crews is very much in that picture. He’s a little more geared to the 50/100 (20.8/44.6) than the 200 (1:39.6) but is solid across all three and dropping very well. He’s also got 48/1:46 backstrokes that bring some good value in a thin class of two-distance backstrokers.
  • Zach Kohm (Germantown Academy Aquatic Club / Germantown Academy / Blue Bell, PA) **Verbally committed to Georgia**
    Kohm is more of a distance type who slants a little more to the 200 side of things (he’s 1:38.5) than the mile (15:34). Both are good times, though, and his 4:28 500 free in between is pretty good for this class. His 200 speed offers him a chance to pass most of the other milers if he can get his distance times close to them.
  • Nikolas Lee-Bishop (NOVA of Virginia / Deep Run High School / Richmond, VA) **Verbally committed to Alabama**
    Lee-Bishop is more of a mid-sprinter: he’s 1:38.2 in the 200 free and 45.3 in the 100. But it’s hard to tell if he’ll swim up from there (he’s only 4:31/15:53 in the distance events) or down (21.0 in the 50 free). He needs more improvement to make the list, but has had massive sophomore year drops from 47.9/1:44/4:38, and definitely classifies as ‘one to watch’ for our re-rank next year.


Feeling nostalgic? Here’s a look back at our recruiting class rankings since we started ranking classes in 2012:

Recruiting Class
High School Class of 2021 Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores
High School Class of 2020 Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores Ranks as Juniors
High School Class of 2019 Ranks as Juniors Re-Rank As Seniors
High School Class of 2018 Ranks as Juniors Re-Rank As Seniors
High School Class of 2017 Ranks as Juniors
High School Class of 2016 Ranks as Juniors
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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Jacob A Oberle
2 years ago

Nikolas Lee-Bishop under “Ones to Watch” is amazing in practice. He gives his best everyday and deserves all of those times. Keep a close eye on him, he will be greatly improving in the near future thanks to his practice regiment. Well done Nikolas!

2 Cents
2 years ago

2 things stick out to me on this list: 1) A lot of YMCA swimmers in the top few (3 of top 7)… that will make for great YNats meets in the next few years, especially if they swim the same events. And 2) A lot of talent in VA and NC in this class (4 of top 12).

Reply to  2 Cents
2 years ago

A lot of great East Coast talent in general. 4 of top 7 from PA/NJ and 5 of 7 from the Mid-Atlantic.

Hint of Lime
Reply to  2 Cents
2 years ago

Thought the same — some strong NJ talent in the past few classes (thinking Lasco, Rose from current 2020 ranks) like this. Is there any sort of analysis regarding boys/girls’ high school rankings and how often certain states dominate the list?

Assuming it’s a rarity that certain states like Minnesota frequently have the caliber of athletes they have in Stadden, Smith, etc., compared to big swim states like California, Florida.

2 Cents
Reply to  Hint of Lime
2 years ago

My first thought was that the McHughs were from MN, but thats actually WI… either way I think considering CA and FL big swim states now is kind of going away… so much of the talent is coming from the east coast and the Mid Atlantic through NC region…. PA through Charlotte. But then again the younger McHugh is a rare talent like you say. Certain parts of the country just get their better athletes to do certain sports compared to others. No one ever wonders why Texas or Arkansas never produces NHL or Hockey talent… or why no one from Oklahoma has never won a Bobsled or skiing medal in the winter Olympics. Swimming just seems to be a… Read more »

2 years ago

wow nobody from texas rip

Reply to  jhumphries
2 years ago

Or Florida…

Foreign Embassy
Reply to  jhumphries
2 years ago

Or Southern California

2 years ago

Both this class and the girls class very weak from CA. Wonder why?

Reply to  Elmo
2 years ago

I’ve noticed a big dip here in the SF Bay Area over the past 20 years. I wonder if there’s a connection with the advent of technology (and the lack of focus that it causes), the overemphasis on academics and doing “all the right things” to get into college, and the surge in the number of kids with depression. Swimming at a high competitive level requires a lot of singular focus. Also the increasing popularity of water polo has had a big impact, as many regard that as a lot more fun than chasing the black line at the bottom of the pool.

Reply to  swimmom123
2 years ago

If there is one place that could compete with CA in terms of academic competitiveness, Northern Va would be one. And social media don’t just target Bay Area kids (it would be great if that were the case). Lol.

Reply to  Swimmomtoo
2 years ago

You’ve got girls like Justina Kozan and Claire Tuggle coming up a year or so behind this. Clearly likely to be at the top of this list, so I don’t think it’s some huge CA specific issue going on. Just an “off” year.

Reply to  James
2 years ago

An off year for a warmer weather, historically fast, and most populated state seems to be an understatement.

JP input is too short
2 years ago

Hayes is not a big or super-powerful kid by any means, he’s just ultra efficient at this point. Put a little bit more muscle on him, and a couple more inches height, and he is going to be something special (not that he isn’t already). His butterfly and backstroke are *Italian kisses fingers* technically textbook.

JP input is too short
Reply to  JP input is too short
2 years ago

Also, something else to watch from the Region VIII group – Barr has a big issue with false starts. He badly false started in 2 or 3 different races at Sectionals this past spring. Maybe a one-off meet and he was just nervous/jumpy, but something to keep an eye on.

Reply to  JP input is too short
2 years ago

I appreciate you calling it Region VIII. I haven’t heard that in years.

Reply to  JP input is too short
2 years ago

None of these kids are that huge

Reply to  Swimmer
2 years ago

I may not know a lot.. but walking on deck next to a 6’6 Jack Alexy he seems pretty big

Texas A&M Swim Fan
Reply to  Swimmer
2 years ago

Not to throw a “monkey wrench” into this height discussion but if I’m not mistaken, the last guy to win the 100 fly in the Olympic Games in Rio stands 5’ 8” tall! Not to “down play” height entirely but if it was such an important issue in the pool, that 5’ 8” guy wouldn’t have had a chance!! Just Something to mull over!!
These guys have great times no matter their height!!

Reply to  Texas A&M Swim Fan
2 years ago

Wait what? Schooling is 6’0 if I remember correctly. Not huge by swimming standards but not short

Rick Paine
Reply to  Swimmer
2 years ago

Jack is actually 6’7″ over 200 lbs, has a 6’11” wingspan and size 17 shoe. I help him and his parents with recruiting.

Reply to  Swimmer
2 years ago

There are a lot of short guys coming up but Luca isn’t big and he’s throwing down some fast fly. Excited to see some of the younger 200 flyers show up to some big meets.

Reply to  JP input is too short
2 years ago

And Hayes is just turning 16 about now and Hoover doesn’t turn 16 until October so some young swimmers with possibly even more growth potential.

Reply to  SwimParent
2 years ago

Seriously! These guys are awesome!

2 Cents
Reply to  JP input is too short
2 years ago

Be careful though… too much mass could and most likely will limit flexibility… it is a fine line, which will cause problems in the water. Get stronger, yes… by all means every swimmer should get stronger… but its the perfect combination of strength and flexibility that excels in swimming. If you can bulk up or get stronger without sacrificing flexibility, then you have found the perfect formula.

JP input is too short
Reply to  2 Cents
2 years ago

I don’t disagree with that at all. Hence “little bit more.” I mean, it’s going to come naturally with maturing, just have to put it to the right use.

Fact Checker
2 years ago

Not to nitpick, but the body of the article has Grimm’s back time at 45.90. It was actually 45.60, the 15-16 NAG.

2 years ago

Nice to see PA swimmers being ranked. Very respectable PA sophomore class beyond this list and they could have 6-7 difference makers down the road. Good list and imagine a very difficult one to decide on.

Speed Racer
2 years ago

I think this class will finally break out and head places other than Texas. Eddie will surely not be able to convince them he is sticking around forever. Great coach but won’t he be pushing 100 by then?

Reply to  Speed Racer
2 years ago

If he’s going to go, he’d probably go next summer. For the calibre of swimmers Eddie recruits and trains, they want to know they’ve got consistency for a full Olympic quad.

On that basis, it’s likely he’s assured Foster and others that he’ll still be there to get them to 2024, health and family issues allowing. For recruits in this class, they’d get Eddie for three years still, and only miss out their senior year (which will be post-Olympic anyway).

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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