Way Too Early Recruit Ranks: Boys High School Class of 2024

We continue our traditional 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.

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 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? Predicting the future never has a 100% hit rate. 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 United States, when they’ll come to the States and with what graduating class they should be ranked. Projecting international recruits often becomes more of 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.


  • Strong freestyle class – all distances, top-end and depth
  • Solid group of IMers, especially compared to past classes
  • Fairly thin class in both back and fly
  • Deep breaststroke class, but the top swimmer is still a mystery
  • Still very much in-development (as sophomore men’s classes usually are)

This is the second recruiting class in a row that we’ve called out as very good in sprint freestyle. Last year’s group, though, morphed quite a bit as juniors and is now considered more of a fly/back class where a lot of the top-end swimmers can also sprint freestyle. That’s a possibility with this group, too, especially with most of our top 5 being great freestylers with intriguing stroke events also in the mix. But for now, this group holds the best 50, 100, and 200 free times we’ve ever ranked among sophomore classes, going back to the class of 2020.

Regardless of how we wind up classifying the top swimmers, though, there’s really good depth in this class in every freestyle distance: from the 50 up through the 1650. Teams who recruit well (and nab a lot of swimmers) between this class and the Class of 2023 should be well-stocked with relay options for years to come.

When we started ranking sophomores, we knew going in that the girls ranks would probably be a lot more predictive than the boys. A lot of top women’s swimmers break out in their teens, and we pretty regularly see U.S. senior national teamers atop our lists of sophomore NCAA prospects on the girls side. The boys are always much more in-development, and this class is no exception. Most swimmers have a great event or two that stand out from the rest of their times, and we see a lot of shuffling in the ranks as swimmers start to develop a more well-rounded portfolio through their junior and senior years.

With freestyle being so strong, this class winds up a little thin on stroke specialists. Butterfly is very thin, and there’s not a standout 46-second flyer like we’ve seen in three of the past four sophomore classes. Backstroke is strong at the top, but equally thin as you move down the ranks. Breaststroke is it’s own conundrum: it’s a much deeper class than in back or fly, but there’s absolutely no definition at the top. If you made me pick the top overall breaststroker in the class right now, I’d probably have four names virtually tied with no great way to pick one.

While each individual stroke isn’t terribly strong in this class, the IM group is. There’s a lot of good IM depth and more two-distance IMers than we usually see at this age.

Top Times in the Class of 2024
50 Free Daniel Diehl 19.95
100 Free Kaii Winkler 43.04
200 Free Daniel Diehl 1:33.68
500 Free Cooper Lucas 4:18.65
1000 Free** Matthew Marsteiner 9:04.02
1650 Free Matthew Marsteiner 15:10.71
100 Back Daniel Diehl 46.84
200 Back Daniel Diehl 1:41.92
100 Breast Daniel Li 53.79
200 Breast Andrew Zou 1:56.75
100 Fly Chase Swearingen 47.12
200 Fly Cooper Lucas 1:44.51
200 IM Drew Hitchcock 1:46.30
400 IM Cooper Lucas 3:46.21

**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. Daniel Diehl – YMCA of Cumberland – Cumberland, MD
Best Times:

  • 100 back: 46.84 (best in class)
  • 200 back: 1:41.92 (best in class)
  • 200 free: 1:33.68 (best in class)
  • 100 free: 43.31
  • 50 free: 19.95 (best in class)
  • 200 IM: 1:46.69
  • 100 fly: 47.55
  • 500 free: 4:27.62

Diehl has been an age group standout for awhile, setting multiple national age group records. As an NCAA prospect, he’s got a ton of value as a sprint freestyler, but is rising even more rapidly in the backstrokes. Diehl dropped almost seven seconds in the 200 back from 1:49.4 to 1:41.9 over his sophomore year. He’s the best in the class in four different events, and is one of the fastest sophomore recruits we’ve ever ranked. We’ve scouted five sophomore classes now, going back to the class of 2020, and Diehl is the fastest sophomore 200 freestyler we’ve ever ranked, besting Carson Foster‘s 1:33.7 from that class of 2020. (Diehl’s 200 back is just three-tenths behind what Foster was as a sophomore, and Foster is the fastest sophomore we’ve ranked in that event). Diehl is also just the fourth sophomore we’ve ever ranked with a sub-20 time in the 50 free, joining Anthony Grimm (19.6), Aiden Hayes (19.7) and David Curtiss (19.7) from the class of 2021.

2. Cooper Lucas – Lakeside Aquatic Club – Keller High School – Keller, TX **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times:

  • 400 IM: 3:46.21 (best in class)
  • 500 free: 4:18.65 (best in class)
  • 1000 free: 9:04.39
  • 1650 free: 15:16.22
  • 200 fly: 1:44.51 (best in class)
  • 100 fly: 48.69
  • 200 free: 1:35.29
  • 100 free: 44.29
  • 200 back: 1:47.21
  • 200 breast: 1:58.46
  • 200 IM: 1:47.28

Where Diehl excels from the 200 on down, Lucas owns the 200s on up. He’s the best 400 IMer and 500 freestyler in the class – but his most impressive event might not be either of those two. Lucas’s 1:44.5 in the 200 fly is the best sophomore time we’ve ranked since Luca Urlando back in the class of 2020. (Urlando was 1:43.5). Lucas probably projects as a 400 IMer and 200 flyer at the NCAA level. We could easily see him add any number of third events, from the 500 free to the 200 IM to the mile. He’s a great long course swimmer, too, with 2:03.9/4:19.9 times in the 200/400-meter IMs and a sub-2:00 200-meter fly.

3. Kaii Winkler – Eagle Aquatics – home-schooled – Miami, FL
Best Times:

  • 50 free: 20.22
  • 100 free: 43.04 (best in class)
  • 200 free: 1:35.41
  • 100 back: 48.60
  • 100 fly: 48.03

It feels like we might see Winkler and Diehl battling for three years over who is the best pure sprint freestyler in the class. Right now, Winkler leads the class in the 100 free in both yards and meters (he’s 49.6 in long course meters compared to 49.7 for Diehl). With that strong of a long course 100, Winkler definitely has the ability to bring his 200-yard free down even further, though he’s already among the best in the class now, if you take out Diehl’s extraordinary time. Winkler has nice versatility into the fly and back, too, and we could see him morph into the ‘versatile sprinter’ type over his late high school years.

4. Drew Hitchcock – Baylor Swim Club – Baylor School – Chattanooga, TN **Verbally committed to Georgia**
Best Times:

  • 400 IM: 3:47.29
  • 200 IM: 1:46.30 (best in class)
  • 200 fly: 1:44.81
  • 100 fly: 47.61
  • 200 back: 1:45.41

Hitchcock is the class’s best 200 IMer, and he’s knocking on the door of the class lead in three other events. You could argue that he’s the best all-around IMer in the class over Lucas, sitting about a second faster in the 200 and a second slower in the 400. Within this class, butterfly might be a nice niche for Hitchcock, too, as he’s within a second of the best time in the class in both fly races. Overall, though, the NCAA is going to value those IMs really, really highly.

5. Lucca Battaglini – East Carolina Aquatics – Durham School of the Arts – Durham, NC **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best Times:

  • 100 fly: 47.35
  • 50 free: 19.96
  • 100 free: 43.80
  • 200 free: 1:36.48
  • 100 back: 48.62

Maybe the most proven combo in NCAA swimming is sprint freestyle with a top-end 100 fly mixed in. Battaglini fits that mold perfectly, which is going to give him chances to swim a full relay lineup across much of his NCAA career. He’s a single hundredth of a second behind Diehl for the fastest 50 free time in this entire class, and he’s only two tenths out of the top 100 fly time, too. He’s clearly got a sweet spot through the 100s, with very good 100 free and 100 back speed, while the 200 free is still coming around.

6. Jeremy Kelly – Nitro Swimming – Georgetown High School – Georgetown, TX **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times:

  • 50 free: 20.02
  • 100 free: 44.06
  • 200 free: 1:36.10
  • 500 free: 4:23.18
  • 200 IM: 1:48.32
  • 100 back: 49.52
  • 200 back: 1:47.75

Kelly is a tick behind Battaglini in nearly all of their shared events, but his calling card is a wider range of event options. Kelly’s 20.0/44.0 speed will make him a great NCAA relay prospect, and he brings just a little more 200 free endurance to the mix compared to the sprintier Battaglini. Kelly also has a nice 500 free – we tend to see big drops there across the late high school and early college years, and a 4:23 is a lot more valuable than it may seem. (We don’t see very many high school swimmers under 4:20, especially among sophomores). Add in that intriguing 200 IM and Kelly has a lot of routes to cracking the top 5 by next year’s ranks.

7. Carter Lancaster – Bolles School Sharks – Bolles School – Jacksonville, FL **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best Times:

  • 200 IM: 1:46.91
  • 400 IM: 3:51.08
  • 200 back: 1:46.52
  • 100 back: 48.88
  • 100 breast: 55.89
  • 100 fly: 49.15

Lancaster is a strong two-distance IMer who still probably skews more towards the 200 at this point in his career. He’s not far out of the top 200 IM time in the class, and is also 2:03.9 in long course meters. 200 back would make a nice third event, though he’s also a good butterflyer and breaststroker. A lot of NCAA programs seem to be pretty good at developing 200 specialists, and that’s one way we could see Lancaster moving over the next few years. He’s definitely better at the 100s of fly, breast and free at the moment, but that 200 IM time suggests he’s got the endurance to excel in the 200s of any stroke.

8. Evan Croley – Streamline Aquatics – Clark High School – San Antonio, TX
Best Times:

  • 50 free: 20.04
  • 100 free: 43.48
  • 100 back: 48.27
  • 200 back: 1:47.37
  • 100 fly: 48.52

Croley is a great sprinter, and if you tend to value an athlete’s top event or two more highly, you’d probably have a good argument to get him as high as #6. 20.0 and 43.4 mean serious speed – those would have been the best sprint free times in the class of 2023, 2022, or 2020 as sophomores. What Croley doesn’t have yet is that standout third event. He could easily develop in the 100 back or 100 fly, and either one would fit nicely in the NCAA format, while giving him even more relay options.

9. Kyle Peck – Rappahannock Y Swim Team – Chancellor High School – Fredricksburg, VA
Best Times:

  • 100 back: 47.24
  • 200 back: 1:44.48
  • 100 fly: 48.50
  • 200 fly: 1:48.71
  • 50 free: 20.87
  • 200 IM: 1:49.92

As a pure two-distance backstroker, Peck is second in this class to only Diehl. In fact, Peck is within a half-second of Diehl’s class-leading time in the 100 back. As we noted, this is a thin backstroke class, and Peck represents a huge dropoff point – there are a couple solid 100 backstrokers left, but no one with anywhere near the 200 back polish Peck does. Right now, you’d have to pencil him in as a 100 fly/100 back type on day 3 of NCAAs, but it does feel like the 200 IM could rise to become a good third event.

10. Chase Swearingen – New Albany Aquatic Club – Westerville Central High School – Westerville, OH **Verbally committed to Kentucky**
Best Times:

  • 100 fly: 47.12 (best in class)
  • 200 fly: 1:47.92
  • 50 free: 20.56
  • 100 breast: 55.19

If you’re looking for a pure sprint butterflyer, Swearingen is the guy you want. He’s the best 100 flyer in the class right now with a lot of sheer speed in the butterfly. While he doesn’t have elite range yet, a 1:47.9 in the 200 fly is plenty at this point to suggest that Swearingen will probably be a good two-distance butterflyer by the time he hits the college level. His sprint free ability is a nice bonus, but what’s really interesting is that 55.1 in the 100 breast. Butterfly and breaststroke really don’t go together well in the NCAA format, but it’s nice to see that kind of versatility.

11. Nolan Dunkel – Arlington Aquatic Club – Yorktown High School – Washington, DC **Verbally committed to NC State**
Best Times:

  • 100 back: 47.39
  • 100 fly: 48.07
  • 100 free: 44.89
  • 50 free: 20.80
  • 200 fly: 1:49.84

Dunkel projects as a classic versatile sprinter who could go after the 100-yard distances and carry a lot of relay value. His 47.3 speed in the 100 back is especially important in this class, without a lot of backstroke competition, and he really carries nice 100 free and 100 fly times along with it. The thing to watch with Dunkel is where he focuses over the next two years. If his backstroke keeps rising, he could definitely build out a good 200 to go along with his 100. (He’s 1:50.0 there right now). But he could also stay on the sprint train and bring his 50 free (and potentially 50 back) around for even more NCAA relay opportunities.

12. Matt Marsteiner – New Wave Swim Team – Leesville Road High School – Raleigh, NC **Verbally committed to NC State**
Best Times:

  • 1650 free: 15:10.71 (best in class)
  • 1000 free: 9:04.02 (best in class)
  • 500 free: 4:25.23
  • 200 free: 1:39.94
  • 400 IM: 3:58.78
  • 200 fly: 1:48.47

Marsteiner is very much a distance free specialist, and he’s the best miler in a very deep class. 15:10 is only about 15 seconds from what it took to earn an NCAA invite this year, and milers can definitely drop time in big chunks. Marsteiner doesn’t have a ton of speed yet, but as we noted above, 500 free times are usually a little misleading when you’re looking at high school prospects – we see big drops there in late high school and early college, and there aren’t that many high school sophomores better than 4:25. Marsteiner has the classic distance question when it comes to his third event: do you stick with freestyle and try to drum up the speed to race a 200 free, or roll with endurance and toughness and mix in that 400 IM?

13. Daniel Li – Rose Bowl Aquatics – San Marino High School – San Marino, CA
Best Times:

  • 100 breast: 53.29 (best in class)
  • 200 breast: 1:57.48
  • 200 IM: 1:49.36

Li is the fastest 100 breaststroker in the class, but he’s not in any way just a pure speedster: going sub-1:58 in the 200 breast is a really nice swim as a sophomore. We’d also keep an eye out for a big 200 breast drop from Li in the next year: just last month, he went 1:02.8 and 2:16.2 in the long course versions of the 100 and 200 breast, and those times definitely feel faster than where his short course times are at the moment. (It’s also the reason we’ve got him ahead of our #15 recruit, who is very comparable in short course, but about a second slower in both long course races).

14. Spencer Nicholas – Nashville Aquatic Club – Martin Luther King High School – Nashville, TN **Verbally committed to Virginia**
Best Times:

  • 100 fly: 47.47
  • 100 back: 48.29

We’re getting to the point we almost always reach in sophomore ranks, where swimmers have one or two real standout events, and we’re left to wonder whether the rest of their times will rise to that level over the next year. Nicholas going 47.4 in the 100 fly is no joke – that’s among the best times in the entire class in this event. He’s also been 55.4 in the long course 100 fly, which is faster than a lot of the flyers ranked ahead of him. He doesn’t have much in the way of versatility yet, though. A 48-low in the 100 back is very solid, and a 47/47 type is always going to rank well as a recruit. Keep an eye on the IMs, where he’s got a lot of work to do, but does have intriguing times of 1:50 and 3:59 to work with.

15. Andrew Zou – Longhorn Aquatics – Regents School – Austin, TX
Best Times:

  • 100 breast: 54.48
  • 200 breast: 1:56.75 (best in class)

Zou has an argument to be the best breaststroker in the class right now. He leads everyone in the 200 breast by quite a ways, which shows a lot of toughness and experience. On the flip side, he doesn’t have a ton of speed yet, which could drag down his relay value a bit. Zou could also use a good third event: he’s 1:50.4 in the IM right now, which is probably his best shot to develop more individual scoring potential. Zou is a solid long course swimmer with breaststroke times of 1:03.8 and 2:17.1.

16. Joshua Chen – Ames Cyclone Aquatic Club – Ames Senior High School – Ames, IA **Verbally committed to Harvard**
Best Times:

  • 100 breast: 54.17
  • 200 breast: 1:57.23

Yet another candidate to eventually be the best breaststroker out of this class. Chen is pretty much identical to Zou as a prospect – a little faster in the 100 but a little slower in the 200. He doesn’t have the same speed #13 Li does, but he’s definitely got more endurance. Back in May, Chen also went 1:02.8 in the long course 100, which should bode well for both his 100 and 200 in short course yards. The other thing that keeps Chen a little lower on this list is that he really doesn’t have a third event yet, even compared to the two pure breaststrokers above him.

17. Landon D’Ariano – Germantown Academy Aquatic Club – Germantown Academy – West Chester, PA
Best Times:

  • 400 IM: 3:49.23
  • 200 IM: 1:47.94
  • 1650 free: 15:20.35
  • 1000 free: 9:08.03
  • 500 free: 4:24.46
  • 200 free: 1:39.67
  • 200 back: 1:48.44

We go from a bunch of specialists to a true all-arounder late in our ranks. 3:49.2 is a great 400 IM time, and D’Ariano should really project as a two-distance IMer. (He’s 4:28 in the long course 400 IM, too, which is exceptional). The mile would make a nice third event, and D’Ariano isn’t far out of the best time in the class in that race. Unlike the last few swimmers in our ranks, D’Ariano really needs one of his events to pop to move up by next year.

18. Gregg Enoch – Carmel Swim Club – Carmel High School – Carmel, IN **Verbally committed to Louisville**
Best Times:

  • 200 free: 1:37.97
  • 500 free: 4:23.99
  • 1650 free: 15:49.40
  • 400 IM: 3:56.80

Just looking at his 200 and 500 free times, Enoch could rank a bit higher in this class. But he hasn’t quite developed a third event around those two. The 400 IM is the really exciting one: he’s got lot of room to grow from his 3:56, especially with a 4:31 on record in the long course pool. For a team that’s good in those middle-distance type races, Enoch will be an excellent fit, with potential to one day contribute to a 4×200 free relay.

19. Adriano Arioti – Rockville Montgomery Swim Club – Georgetown Day School – Potomac, MD **Verbally committed to Harvard**
Best Times:

  • 200 fly: 1:46.40
  • 100 fly: 48.41
  • 200 IM: 1:48.42
  • 400 IM: 3:54.30
  • 200 back: 1:46.42
  • 100 back: 49.11

Arioti fits in the same mold as D’Ariano: he’s got a bunch of really interesting times without one clear standout stroke or event. He may project best as one of these 200-specialists we’re starting to see rise around the NCAA – guys who don’t specialize in one stroke so much as one distance. 200 fly and 200 IM look like his best events for the moment, and it really comes down to whether he zeroes in on butterfly or brings a 200 back or 200 free into the mix.

20. Luke Stibrich – Blue Tide Aquatics – Summer Creek High School – Humble, TX **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times:

  • 200 IM: 1:47.74
  • 400 IM: 3:49.91
  • 200 free: 1:38.62
  • 200 back: 1:47.61
  • 200 breast: 2:01.81
  • 200 fly: 1:49.65

College coaches love a good 400 IMer, and it’ll be hard for anyone to pass up a sub-3:50 type with the versatility that Stibrich has. Speaking of 200 specialists, Stibrich could also project that way, if his 400 IM weren’t so good. His five 200s definitely stand out from the rest of his event portfolio, most notably the 200 IM and 200 free.




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.

Thackston McMullan – Cincinnati Marlins – Saint Xavier High School – Cincinnati, OH **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best Times:

  • 50 free: 20.48
  • 100 free: 45.13
  • 200 free: 1:36.58
  • 500 free: 4:26.58
  • 1000 free: 9:33.75
  • 1650 free: 15:49.02
  • 100 fly: 48.30
  • 200 fly: 1:49.83

It’s always fun to see a swimmer come through with this kind of range. McMullan could legitimately develop anywhere from the 50 through the 1650. His 200 free is his most impressive time for the moment, and centering on the 100/200 free would provide the most relay options within the NCAA format. McMullan is also an intriguing butterflyer.

Dean Jones – Magnolia Aquatic Club – home-schooled – Magnolia, TX
Best Times:

  • 500 free: 4:24.73
  • 200 free: 1:38.49
  • 200 fly: 1:46.96
  • 100 fly: 49.07
  • 200 back: 1:49.28

Jones is a bit more of a mid-distance specialist for the moment: his 200 and 500 frees are comparable to some of the guys who made the top 20, and the 200 fly makes a very solid third event.

Marcus Papanikolaou – Unattached – Central Bucks East High School – Doylestown, PA
Best Times:

  • 50 free: 20.23
  • 100 free: 44.66
  • 100 fly: 49.50

Papanikolaou is a pure sprinter for the moment, but with 50 and 100 free times like that, plenty of college coaches will be happy to recruit him. It’d make the most sense for him to stick with speed and keep honing the 100 fly, but he’s also close to the 1:40-barrier in the 200 free and could up his relay value there.

Michael Mullen – Gator Swim Club – Homeschooled – Jacksonville, FL **Verbally committed to Florida**
Best Times:

  • 400 IM: 4:01.53
  • 200 IM: 1:50.93
  • 200 fly: 1:49.81
  • 1650 free: 15:51.53
  • 400 LCM IM: 4:25.47

This one’s for everyone who has ever commented on one of these rankings upset that I don’t weigh long course times enough. I can’t get Mullen into the top 20 based on short course production. But after Mullen went 4:25 in the long course 400 IM last summer, he’s definitely become a name to watch and a perfect fit as an honorable mention here. It’s always difficult at this age to tell if a swimmer is truly just a better fit for long course than the NCAA yards format, or if one course is just starting to catch up to the other. Mullen’s best short course yards 400 IM is from 2019, so it feels like there’s a chance a big drop is coming.

Nick Mahabir – Coronado Swim Association Team Elite – San Diego, CA **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best Times:

  • 100 breast: 55.13
  • 200 breast: 2:01.09
  • 100 LCM breast: 1:01.71
  • 200 LCM breast: 2:13.51

One more for the long course crowd. When the #20 recruit is 54.1/1:57.2, there’s just no way to fit a 55.1/2:01.0 type into the ranks. But two months after Mahabir hit those short course bests, he crushed times of 1:01.7 and 2:13.5 in the long course meters breaststrokes – those are easily the best long course breaststroke times in this class and suggest that he should be dropping his short course times towards the best in the class in short order.



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:

  • Sprint free:
    • River Paulk (20.5/44.8)
    • Devin Dilger (20.8/45.3/1:37.5) **Florida**
    • Eddie Jin (20.9/44.8/1:38.5)
    • Tolu Young (20.4/45.1)
    • August Vetsch (21.0/44.8, 48.5FL) **Cal**
    • Seth Tolentino (20.7/44.9/1:39.2) **Texas A&M**
    • Sam Empey (20.7/45.1/1:39.0) **Auburn**
    • Logan Noguchi (20.7/45.3/1:38.9, 1:47.9IM)
  • Distance free:
    • Luke Corey (4:27.6/9:08/15:16)
    • Isaac Lee (4:29.0/9:20/15:16)
    • Max Hatcher (4:25.8/9:24/15:27) **Texas**
    • Jacob Pins (4:26.3/9:08/15:23)
  • Backstroke:
    • Johnny Crush (48.0/1:46.5)
    • Sam Lorenz (48.3/1:46.6)
  • Breaststroke:
    • Colin Zhang (54.3/1:57.4)
    • Watson Nguyen (54.5/1:58.9)
  • Butterfly:
    • Bradford Johnson (47.9/1:48.4)
    • Michael Hochwalt (48.5/1:47.8)
    • Eamon Monaghan (48.1/1:48.5
  • IM:
    • Jacob Wimberly (1:47.4/3:52.0) **Texas A&M**
    • Eric Lee (1:48.8/3:52.8) **Harvard**


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

Recruiting Class
High School Class of 2023 Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores Ranks as Juniors
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 Re-Rank As Seniors
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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tea rex
1 month ago

Was just nerding out and noticed the top time in class of 2024 is faster than class of 2023 in 100 free, 200 free, and 400 IM.
Class of 2025 is bit skewed (Heilman and Max WIlliamson), but Williamson is fastest high schooler of any grade in 100 free and 400 IM.

Swim fan
2 months ago

Nolan Dunklel recently committed to Nc State

4 months ago

Bryce Rohr Distance Free (4:35/ 9:21/ 15:30)

Dr Amanda
5 months ago

Great job to Josh Chen and family from your roomie Evan Wong #nationaldiversityselect #iolaniswimclub- ALOHA!

5 months ago

Knowing that a good number of these top recruits never pan out, it would be fun to also have a “faces in the crowd” type of category. Readers could nominate candidates from their area, and SwimSwam could aggregate the names and make some picks. I’m thinking about swimmers that are late to the sport, or late developing… These top recruiting lists on the men’s side often contain a bunch of kids that were growing full beards at age 13 and already training at an elite level. The “faces in the crowd” section could highlight the random 6’6″ sprinter that went from 24.0 to 21.0 after growing a foot in the past 12 months, or the 1:55 200 IM guy that… Read more »

Dr Deluxe
5 months ago

Interesting that there is only one swimmer from CALIFORNIA and the western United States.

Reply to  Dr Deluxe
5 months ago

Interesting observation. With the number of swimmers (and the largest population in the nation) in California, you’d think the state would be heavily represented on these lists. Year after year, though, you see far more from Texas, Ohio, Virginia, etc. That is not a good statement for developmental clubs and coaches in California. Could this be reflective of some demographic difference between California and other states? A top tier college coach once told me that he doesn’t spend much time looking at swimmers from Northern California…only thinks a couple of clubs in that region really do a decent job. Northern California (East Bay Area) has one of, if not THE largest and most competitive summer league systems in the country.… Read more »

Team Chlorine
Reply to  Dr Deluxe
5 months ago

Recent recruiting classes suffered through some extremely reduced practice hours for 15+ months due to pandemic restrictions. A real shame considering many clubs swim outside in California. It had, and still has, an effect on the development trajectory for many of these kids. I think there will be some breakout swims from mid major college athletes who weathered the pandemic in California. At least I hope they get their moments to swim to their full potential!

5 months ago

The short course season end at a different time for different states. For example, California ends in May, while some states end in February. Do you consider that in the ranking when looking at the best time?

Team Chlorine
Reply to  Faster
5 months ago

No, I think that’s actually an advantage for California. They have a late season short course yards opportunity to post great times. The rankings come out after the CIF meets.

5 months ago

Nolan Dunkel lives in Arlington, VA not Washington, D.C.

Reply to  HOOlove
5 months ago

I think one parent lives in DC so could explain the confusion.

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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