We continue our traditional recruiting coverage with our “Way Too Early” ranks of the upcoming season’s high school junior 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 long shot. 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 or 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 butterflier 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.
- Generational talent at the top
- Tons of distance free/400 IM depth
- Very strong in 200 back, not so much in 100 back
- Weak in terms of sprinting
Obviously, the faces of this recruiting class are Thomas Heilman and Maximus Williamson. They take up 10 of the 14 class-leading times and are two of the fastest high schoolers in American history. We’re going to talk more in-depth about how good they are later in this article, but even without explaining anything further, their prominence is evident through the number of times I’ve had to say “this swimmer has the third-fastest time in [insert event], only behind Williamson and Heilman”.
Behind Heilman and Williamson is a massive group of distance swimmers. Four of our top ten swimmers are distance-oriented, in addition to three of our top five. For the first time since we started ranking sophomores in 2020, there are swimmers with a sub-15 minute mile time in a sophomore class. But it’s not just one swimmer. It’s three. There are also three sub-4:20 500 freestylers and six sub-3:50 400 IMers in this class, which goes to show how common the 500 free/400 IM/1650 free prototype is here.
However, this class is relatively weak in depth in other areas. There are a couple of good breaststrokers and sprint freestylers, but there’s not much talent in the sprint back and fly—as shown by the fact that there’s only one flyer in the “honorable mention” category and that the second-fastest 100/200 backstroker in the class is only ranked #20. The 200 back is a strong event in this class though, with four swimmers sub-1:45 (compared to only two last year).
TOP TIMES IN THE CLASS OF 2025
TOP TIMES IN THE CLASS
|50 Free||Thomas Heilman||19.63|
|100 Free||Maximus Williamson||42.49|
|200 Free||Maximus Williamson||1:33.07|
|500 Free||Maximus Williamson||4:16.84|
|1000 Free**||Nathan Szobota||8:50.64|
|1650 Free||Luke Ellis||14:49.79|
|100 Back||Maximus Williamson||46.9|
|200 Back||Maximus Williamson||1:40.88|
|100 Breast||Josh Bey||53.81|
|200 Breast||Josh Bey||1:57.31|
|100 Fly||Thomas Heilman||44.67|
|200 Fly||Thomas Heilman||1:40.86|
|200 IM||Thomas Heilman||1:41.71|
|400 IM||Maxmus Williamson||3:39.83|
**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.
Top 20 Swimmers From The Class Of 2025
1. Thomas Heilman — Piedmont Family YMCA — Western Albemarle High School — Crozet, VA
- 100 fly: 44.67 (best in class)
- 200 fly: 1:40.86 (best in class)
- 200 IM: 1:41.71 (best in class)
- 50 free: 19.63 (best in class)
- 400 IM: 3:43.63
- 100 free: 42.61
- 200 free: 1:34.10
- 100 back: 47.91
- 100 breast: 54.26
- 200 breast: 1:57.80
Where do we even start with Heilman? At just 16, he’s already becoming arguably one of the greatest male high school recruits in history. With two full years of high school left, his resume is already light years ahead of other boys in his age group.
Heilman is the fastest high school 100 and 200 flyer in history. His 200 fly time would have made the ‘A’ final at the 2023 NCAA Championships, while his 100 fly time is just 0.02 off of what it took to ‘A’ final. He’s also got an NCAA scoring worthing time in the 200 IM—David Nolan is the only other swimmer who has been faster than him in the event as a high schooler.
In addition to his out-of-this-world times in the butterfly and 200 IM events, Heilman is also elite in several other disciplines, which makes him a relay weapon. He’s the class leader in the 50 free, and has the 2nd fastest 100 free, 200 free and 400 IM times in the class (all behind Maximus Williamson). He’s also the 3rd fastest 100 and 200 breaststroker in the class, and could probably pass as a top breaststroke specialist in this class if we didn’t know about his other times.
Heilman is also hands-down the best long-course swimmer in this class. He finished fourth in the 200 fly at the 2023 World Championships, clocking a time of 1:53.82 that made him the fastest 18-and-under American in history. He also raced the 100 fly at Worlds and earned a gold medal for his efforts on the prelims squad of Team USA’s men’s medley relay.
With several NCAA scoring times and World Championship experience under his belt as a rising high school junior, Heilman is going to be the most valuable recruit by a longshot not only in his own class, but also amongst all high schoolers.
2. Maximus Williamson — Lakeside Aquatic Club — Keller High School — Southlake, TX
- 400 IM: 3:39.03 (best in class)
- 200 back: 1:40.88 (best in class)
- 100 back: 46.90 (best in class)
- 100 free: 42.49 (best in class)
- 200 free: 1:33.07 (best in class)
- 500 free: 4:16.84 (best in class)
- 50 free: 19.65
- 200 IM: 1:42.07
- 200 fly: 1:44.84
Williamson has the misfortune of being in the same high school class as a 16-year-old swimmer who nearly medalled at the World Championships, but don’t be mistaken, he’s a generational talent as well. In fact, he holds more class-leading times than Heilman and is arguably more versatile compared to him.
In the 400 IM, Williamson has a time that would have ‘A’ finaled at NCAAs. He’s the fastest ever in the U.S. 15-16 age group by nearly four seconds, and only Andrew Seliskar and Carson Foster have been faster than him as high schoolers. He also has an NCAA ‘B’ final time in the 200 IM and is ranked 4th in history for the event amongst high schoolers. His third event is arguably the 200 back, where he holds a class-leading time by nearly four seconds and less than half a second away from the 2023 NCAA cut line in the event.
Williamson has incredible range, boasting class-leading times in the 100/200/500 free, 100/200back, and 400 IM. In addition, he also has the 2nd fastest 50 free, 200 IM, and 200 fly times in the class behind Heilman. His ability to excel in mid-distance races and sprint for relays will bring him major value, as he looks to emulate the kind of role that swimmers like Leon Marchand and Kieran Smith had for their teams.
Like Heilman, Williamson is a very strong long-course swimmer. Just recently, he posted best times of 48.84 and 1:47.29 in the long course 100 and 200 free respectively, making him a threat to qualify for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team if he continues to improve.
- 1650 free: 14:49.79 (best in class)
- 1000 free: 8:57.32
- 500 free: 4:22.23
- 400 IM: 3:47.68
- 200 fly: 1:47.23
- 200 back: 1:46.17
Ellis is the first out of a long list of mid-distance standouts that will be mentioned in this article, and yet he leads the class by over four seconds in the 1650 free. His mile time would have been fast enough to qualify for NCAAs, and is just over a second off what it took to score last season. The last time a high school sophomore swam a faster time than Ellis did was in 2014, when Sean Greishop clocked a 14:45.40. In addition, Ellis’s mile time is faster than the top mile time in both the high school class of 2024 and 2023.
Aside from the mile, Ellis doesn’t have any other “standout” NCAA-qualifying events, though he’s respectable in quite a few other races. He’s 5th in the class for the 500 free (in a very deep 500 free class) and 3rd in the 400 IM, only behind Heilman and Williamson. And although the 1000 free isn’t an NCAA event, it’s also worth noting that he’s 3rd in the class and holds a personal best of 8:57.32—a sub-nine-minute 1000 is nothing to scoff at and is faster than the top times of the class of 2023, 2022, and 2021 when they had been ranked as sophomores.
Ellis looks to be a 500 free/400 IM/1650 free guy when he enters the NCAA, but he’s also strong in both the 200 fly and 200 back, being ranked 3rd in the class for the former event and 7th in the class for the latter. On the surface, people might only recognize him for his mile. However, he’s also top six in the class for five different NCAA events across four different disciplines and distances, which gives him the potential to become a multi-event threat as he continues to develop. Many of his other Sandpiper teammates like Ilya Kharun, Bella Sims, and Katie Grimes are all highly versatile, so it’s not out of the question for him to be the same.
4. Nathan Szobota — NOVA Of Virginia — Freeman High School — Richmond, VA
- 1650 free: 14:53.83
- 1000 free: 8:50.44 (best in class)
- 500 free: 4:18.38
- 200 free: 1:37.31
- 400 IM: 3:49.93
- 1000 free: 8:50.44
- 200 back: 1:46.26
While Ellis is the best in the mile, Szobota is better in the mid-distance races. He’s the second-best 500 freestyler in the class, and a 1:37-low 200 free shows some relay potential. That being said, the mile is still arguably his best NCAA event, as he’s the eighth-fastest U.S. 15-16-year-old of all time in it and also would have been fast enough to qualify for NCAAs. He’s also got a sub-3:50 400 IM and the 7th-fastest 200 back in the class, which allows him to expand his resume beyond freestyle.
Szobota’s stock is slightly hurt because the one event where he tops the class (and also by over five seconds), the 1000 free, is not an NCAA event. That distance also seems to be his bread and butter in long course, as he holds a personal best of 8:01.36 in the 800 free. However, a class-leading time is a class-leading time regardless, so it’s worth pointing out.
I’m curious about whether Szobota will opt to swim the 200 free or the 400 IM on day three of NCAAs. He seems to be better at longer-distance races, but could further develop his speed when he gets older (which happens to a lot of high school boys) and train for an event that is more beneficial toward relays.
5. Sean Green — Long Island Aquatic Club — Archbishop Molloy High School — Garden City, NY
- 1650 free: 14:57.10
- 1000 free: 8:55.64
- 500 free: 4:20.41
- 200 free: 1:37.38
- 400 IM: 3:48.33
- 200 back: 1:45.31
- 200 fly: 1:47.78
Yes, that’s right. A swimmer who went a sub-15 mile as a high school sophomore is only ranked third in the event for his class. That’s how deep this year’s distance crew is.
At the NCAP invite last December, Green became the youngest swimmer since 2001 to break 15 minutes in the mile, at just 15 years old. Although a 15-year-old Szobota beat his time at NCSAs this March, the fact that he was the first 15-year-old since 2001 to break 15 minutes goes to show how he is in rarified air. Compared to Szobota and Ellis, Green has been on the scene for longer, going 15:05 as a freshman while Szobota and Ellis had PBs of 15:36 and 15:27 respectively. However, he’s also dropped the least time out of the three. Over the next two years, it will be interesting to see how the three end up developing.
Green also has an impressive 8:55 1000 free (2nd in the class behind Szobota), the 4th-fastest 500 free in the class, and a formidable 200 free and 400 IM. Like with Szobota, he will have a choice between swimming the 200 free and 400 IM at NCAAs when that time comes depending on how he develops, though his 400 IM is faster than Szobota’s right now.
Though his drops in the distance-free events were smaller compared to his classmates, Green saw massive progression in the 200 back and 200 fly. He improved four seconds in the 200 back (compared to “only” two seconds in the 200 free) to become the 6th ranked swimmer in the class for the event, and he also recorded a five-second drop in the 200 fly.
6. Marvin Johnson — McCallie GPS Aquatics — McCallie School — Chattanooga, TN
- 50 free: 19.87
- 100 free: 43.60
- 200 free: 1:39.33
- 100 fly: 48.95
Sandwiched between a bunch of distance standouts is Johnson, who would have been the best sprinter in the class if it wasn’t for once-in-a-generation swimmers like Heilman and Williamson. However, his 50 and 100 free times are faster than the class-leading times for the class of 2023, 2022, and 2020 when they had been ranked as sophomores, so he’s a superstar recruit in his own right. He doesn’t have a good third event yet, but just his 50 and 100 free times in themselves are good enough to raise him to the #6 ranking, considering how important they are for relays.
It’s unclear whether Johnson will become more of a 200 freestyler or a 100 flyer, but it’s worth noting that he’s dropped more time in the 100 fly than he has in the 200 free this season despite the 200 free being twice as long (and therefore there’s more room to drop).
Johnson is from the Bahamas but now swims club and attends high school in Tennessee. Coincidentally, Tennessee is also the state where another Caribbean male sprinter, Jordan Crooks, rose to stardom. Like Johnson, Crooks didn’t have a strong third event when he was younger, but his butterfly developed tremendously in his sophomore season of college. Rocky Top seems like a reasonable destination for Johnson considering their track history, but any school would value his sprint free abilities right now.
7. Norvin Clontz — SwimMAC Carolina — Charlotte Latin High School — Charlotte, NC
- 1650 free: 15:14.12
- 500 free: 4:19.43
- 200 free: 1:37.28
- 400 IM: 3:50.44
- 200 breast: 2:00.39
Clontz is best known for his performances in the summer of 2022, when he clocked a 3:50.82 400 free and an 8:01.64 800 free and became the fastest American 15-year-old ever in the 400 free. He couldn’t match those long course times this summer, but he did see a few yards drops in the months that came beforehand.
In the 500 free, Clontz shaved nearly ten seconds off his best time in a year, going 4:19.43 at winter juniors to become the 3rd fastest in the event for his class. Just like in the mile where there are three swimmers under 15 seconds, the fact that there are three 500 freestyles under 4:20 just shows how deep the class of 2025 is in boys’ distance swimming.
Additionally, Clontz also holds the 4th fastest mile time in the class—a 15:14 is elite for a high school sophomore, but still far from what some of his classmates are going. His strength seems to lie more in mid-distance, as he’s faster than Green and Ellis in the 500 free and also seems to have a clearer pathway towards swimming the 200 free at NCAAs. He’s also sneaky-good in breaststroke, dropping nearly three seconds in the event last season to go 2:00.
8. Thomas Mercer — Lakeside Swim Team — Saint Xavier High School — Louisville, KY
- 200 IM: 1:46.37
- 400 IM: 3:47.89
- 100 back: 48.83
- 200 back: 1:46.94
- 100 breast: 55.42
- 200 breast: 2:02.33
- 100 fly: 48.48
- 200 fly: 1:48.60
- 100 free: 45.09
Aside from Williamson, Mercer is the best IM specialist in this class, holding the 3rd fastest 200 IM and 4th fastest 400 IM times amongst the class of 2025. He’s amongst those struck with the bad luck of being ranked in the same class as Williamson and Heilman because his IM times would have topped various other sophomore classes in the past.
The 200 fly and 200 back stand out as the most likely third events for Mercer, but he’s got sprinkles of speed across all four strokes in both the 100 and 200 distances. If he can drop a second in all of his 100s next season (which male swimmers his age tend to do), his relay value is going to be tremendous—he’s arguably the only swimmer in this class who is equally as elite in all four 100 stroke events (much like Spencer Nicholas in the class of 2024 and Roman Jones in the class of 2023).
Mercer attends Saint Xavier High School and swims club for the Lakeside Swim Team, swimming both high school and club alongside other top boys’ recruits like Johnny Crush (2024), Will Scholtz (2023) and Alex Thiesing (2025).
9. Josh Bey — Highland Hurricanes Swim Club — Hinsdale Central High School — Hinsdale, IL
- 100 breast: 53.81 (best in class)
- 200 breast: 1:57.31 (best in class)
- 200 IM: 1:48.22
- 400 IM: 3:50.09
Now that we’re finished breaking down the group of top distance swimmers, let’s talk about breaststrokers. That conversation starts with Bey, who is the top breaststroker in this class across both distances. Though he only leads the 100 breast rankings by 0.07 seconds and the 200 breast rankings by 0.14 seconds, he’s the highest-ranked breaststroke specialist due to his range, long-course speed, and strength across both breaststrokers.
Bey is capable of going 1:48 and 3:50-low in both IMs, and his 51.6 split from taking out the 400 IM (which is just over a second faster than his flat start 100 fly time) indicates that he also has great potential in the 100 fly and could be a Caspar Corbeau-like swimmer that specializes in breaststroke but is also good in sprint fly. He’s also a phenomenal long course 200 breaststroker, posting a 2:13.39 at U.S. Nationals to get himself named on the World Juniors team and move up to #5 all-time amongst the U.S. 15-16 age group.
10. Jason Zhao — Mason Manta Rays — Indian Hill High School — Cincinnati, OH
- 50 free: 20.35
- 100 free: 44.71
- 200 free: 1:36.16
- 500 free: 4:23.31
- 100 breast: 55.27
- 200 breast: 2:00.00
Though there are quite a few faster sprinters in this class ranked below Zhao, two very compelling reasons prompted us to rank him this high. First off, he has incredible freestyle range, going from a 20-low 50 free to a 4:23 500 free. Second, the long course times he produced this summer were eye-popping—a 49.39 100 free to rank him as the #5 U.S. 15-16 year-old of all time, as well as a 1:49.09 200 free.
As seen in this video, Zhao is much better on the surface and didn’t have a great underwater, so his swimming style is much more suited to long course. His progression throughout high school could go two ways—he could either translate his long course success to short course and explode, or he could just be an eternal long course swimmer. The path he ends up going on will determine his placements in future rankings.
Zhao has impressive yards times as well, though, it’s just that his long course times are better. In addition to his range, he’s also got the #6 50 and 100 free time in the class, as well as the #3 200 free time behind only Heilman and Williamson (do I sound like a broken record yet with these two?). And don’t worry, his versatility isn’t just limited to freestyle—the fact that he has a 55-low 100 breast and an almost sub-two minute 200 breast as someone who primarily swims freestyle is very impressive.
11. Ryan Erisman — Laker Swimming — Windermere High School — Windermere, FL
- 400 IM: 3:48.42
- 200 IM: 1:49.10
- 100 free: 44.81
- 200 free: 1:36.82
- 500 free: 4:23.23
- 1650 free: 15:24.48
- 200 fly: 1:47.36
Like Zhao, Erisman has a wide freestyle range, which spans from the 100 to the 1650. His bread and butter seems to be the 200 and the 500 though, as he’s one of the four swimmers in this class who have been sub-1:37 in the 200 free and also has an impressive 4:23 500 free. He also shined in the 200 free in long course this summer, clocking a 1:50.64 to get himself named onto the U.S. Worlds Juniors team for the 4×200 free relay.
Interestingly enough, Erisman dropped almost the same amount of time in his 200 free (6.81 seconds) last season compared to his 500 free (7.14 seconds).
But even with his freestyle abilities and range, Erisman is also strong in other events. He’s got a 3:48 400 IM that’s ranked #6 in a very deep class for the event (for perspective, it would have been #3 in last year’s sophomore class), and also the 4th fastest 200 fly.
12. Josh Howat — Nation’s Capital Swim Club — Lake Braddock High School — Springfield, VA
- 50 free: 19.92
- 100 free: 44.05
- 200 free: 1:38.15
Howat isn’t that far off from Johnson’s sprint free times and is right up there with him in the conversation about the best pure sprinters in this class. He’s only 0.05 seconds off Johnson’s 50 free time, 0.45 seconds off his 100 free time, and over a second faster than his 200 free time. Unlike Johnson, who could swim either the 100 fly or 200 free, it’s pretty clear that Howat is a 50/100/200 free guy.
In addition, Howat had much bigger drops than Johnson in his sophomore season, improving a whole second in the 50 free (compared to Johnson’s 0.22-second drop) and a whole two seconds in the 100 free (compared to Johnson’s 0.92-second drop). It wouldn’t be surprising to see these two swap rankings throughout their junior and senior seasons, with the progression of teenage boys being so unpredictable.
As said with other pure sprinters, Howat has tremendous relay value and fits the NCAA system perfectly with his 50/100/200 free speed. A sub-20 50 free and a near sub-44 100 free is no joke for a high school sophomore.
13. Wyatt Porch — Bolles School Sharks — Bolles School — Jacksonville, FL
- 100 breast: 53.88
- 200 breast: 1:57.98
- 200 IM: 1:47.77
- 100 fly: 49.58
Porch’s breaststroke times are slightly behind Bey’s, though he’s a better 200 IMer. Bey got the edge over Porch because of his 400 IM speed and faster long course times, but Porch is a great recruit as well—he’s one out of the two sub-54 breaststrokers in his class, as well as the 4th fastest 200 breaststroker and the 6th fastest 200 IMer.
Unlike most of the recruits mentioned in this article, Porch has three “clear” elite events and no other events that can match the quality of his top three races. However, three events are all he needs considering the NCAA Championship format. If he continues to drop in his main events as he grows older, his value will increase as we begin to prioritize one or two strong main events over a wide array of decent events as a swimmer approaches their senior year.
Though Porch did drop over two seconds in the 100 fly last season (compared to his less-than-a-second drop in the 100 breast), so his progression in that event will be intriguing to follow.
14. Campbell McKean — Bend Swim Club — Caldera High School — Bend, OR
- 100 fly: 48.00
- 200 fly: 1:46.89
- 200 IM: 1:46.77
- 400 IM: 3:52.13
- 100 back: 49.12
- 200 back: 1:47.32
- 200 free: 1:39.85
McKean’s personal best times at the Federal Way Speedo Sectionals this March single-handedly got him on this list, as all of his times listed in this article are from that meet.
Holding the 4th-fastest 100 fly time (which is just 0.04 seconds off the #3 ranked time) and the 3rd-fastest 200 fly time in the class, McKean is arguably the best 100/200 flyer in this class with the exception of Heilman. He’s also got the fourth-fastest 200 IM time in the class. And although the 200 IM/100 fly/200 fly are his clear best three events, he’s also got formidable times in the backstroke events and the 400 IM.
Notably, McKean had splits of 23.4/27.5/30.38/25.4 in his 200 IM. His opening fly split was relatively pedestrian compared to his individual fly times, but that 30.3 breast split stands out considering that his 100 breast PB is “only” a 57.1.
15. Caiden Bowers —Eagle Swim Team — McDonogh School — Marriottsville, MD
- 100 fly: 47.96
- 200 fly: 1:49.79
- 100 breast: 54.70
- 200 breast: 2:01.23
- 200 IM: 1:48.79
Similar to Bedsole, Bowers stands out in a strange combination of events. He’s only the third sub-48 flyer in the class, but his best events aside from that are arguably the 200 IM and the 100 breast. In the 100 breast, he’s ranked 4th in the class behind Porch, Bey, and Heilman. A 200 IM/100 fly/100 breast lineup at NCAAs is doable, but it’s definitely out-of-the ordinary and is reminiscent of Kate Douglass’s 200 IM/100 fly/200 breast lineup at NCAAs (ironically, Bowers and Douglass have near-identical PBs in the 200 breast).
Bowers also has a 2:01 200 breast and 1:49 200 fly, which are good times for his secondary events. However, like McKean, he’s versatile but has three events that clearly stand out as his best ones.
16. Luke Bedsole — Huntsville Swim Association — Huntsville High School — Owen Cross Roads, AL
- 50 free: 20.74
- 100 free: 44.38
- 200 free: 1:38.09
- 100 fly: 48.40
- 200 fly: 1:47.49
- 100 back: 48.78
Bedsole is a standout sprinter who is good at both 100s and 200s, as well as three different strokes. The 100 free and 200 fly are arguably his two best events, as he’s ranked 5th in the class for both races. He’s also got decent times in the 50 free, 100 back, and 100 fly, and could take on several different relay roles in the future.
However, it’s worth noting that Bedsole’s two strongest events fall on the same day at NCAAs, and are very different from each other—being two separate distances and strokes (it’s not often that we see someone do a 100 free/200 fly double at NCAAs, though there’s a lot of swimmers who are capable of racing both events well). It will be interesting to see if those two events will continue to stand as his best events, or if he will trend in the freestyle direction over the butterfly direction or vice versa.
17. Jake McCoy — Cougar Aquatics — Pullman High School — Pullman, WA
- 200 back: 1:44.58
- 100 back: 49.04
- 200 IM: 1:48.98
- 400 IM: 3:49.33
- 500 free: 4:29.17
McCoy falls on this list by virtue of his 1:44.58 200 back, which sits behind Williamson’s 1:40.88 as the 2nd-fastest time in this class. His 100 back time isn’t as good, but as with many other swimmers in this class, his strengths are catered towards the mid-distance events. His second-best race is his 3:49.33 400 IM, which ranks him #6 in a very deep class for the event. He’s also got a 1:48.9 200 IM and 4:29.1 500 free, with both times following his trend of mid-distance prowess.
The 500 free was by far McCoy’s biggest development in the last year. As a freshman, he was already 50.5/1:48 in the backstroke and 1:53/4:04 in the IMs, but his 500 free time was only 4:40.86. However, he dropped over 11 seconds in a full year, and now has freestyle on his resume in addition to his backstroke and IM.
18. Granger Bartee — SwimMAC Carolina — Providence Day School — Charlotte, NC
- 100 back: 47.68
- 200 back: 1:48.31
- 100 free: 44.78
- 200 free: 1:39.14
- 100 fly: 49.66
As the 2nd fastest 100 backstroker in the class who has a personal best less than a second off Williamson’s best, people might say that Bartee is ranked too low. However, he doesn’t really have any other events that are close to the level of his 100 back—though a 44.7 100 free is promising and good for relays. Just from projecting off his sophomore year times, a reasonable NCAA lineup for him would be the 100 back/100 fly double in addition to the 100 free, as his 100s look considerably better than his 200s right now.
On that note, Bartee is also one of the few swimmers in this class who hasn’t seen drops across the board in all his events. Out of all the times listed for him in this article, only the 100 back, 100 free, and 200 free come from this year. Meanwhile, his 100 fly and 200 back PBs are from his freshman year, and he was nearly two seconds slower in his 200 back as a sophomore. Sophomore year is usually when people in Bartee’s class are dropping time like crazy, so his stagnancy also hurts his stock a little bit despite his very solid 100 back time.
19. Ethan Ekk — Area Tallahassee Aquatic Club — Lawton Chiles High School — Tallahassee, FL
- 200 back: 1:45.26
- 100 back: 49.49
- 400 IM: 3:52.31
- 200 free: 1:38.94
- 500 free: 4:26.19
- 1000 free: 9:06.45
Ekk is another great mid-distance swimmer in this class, and he’s got a wide variety of events that he’s good at. His standout event is the 200 back, where he’s ranked 5th overall in the class. However, he’s also strong in events like the 400 IM and the mid-distance freestyles and will also have a choice to swim the 400 IM or the 200 free at NCAAs depending on how he progresses in both events (like many of his other mid-distance swimmers).
We would be lying if we said that Ekk’s long-course achievements didn’t give him the advantage over other swimmers on the border between a top 20 ranking and an honorable mention. He has an Olympic trials cut time in the 800 free (8:06.22), and the 1:50.46 200 free he swam at futures this summer would have been fast enough to make the World Juniors team had he replicated it at Nationals.
20. Kenneth Barnicle — Greater Somerset Area YMCA — Mendham High School — Mendham, NJ
- 200 back: 1:44.99
- 100 back: 48.20
- 200 IM: 1:48.92
- 400 IM: 3:57.51
- 1000 free: 9:19.93
Barnicle adds to the long list of top recruits from the Greater Somerset Area YMCA in New Jersey, which is the club of swimmers like Anna Moesch, Emily Thompson, Matt Fallon, and Jack Alexy. He made leaps and bounds as a sophomore, dropping nearly four seconds in his 200 back to become the #4 ranked swimmer in the class for the event. He also saw an over two-second improvement in the 100 back, another event where he’s ranked #4 in the class. In fact, I’d even go as far as saying he’s the top 100/200 backstroker in the class behind Williamson.
Aside from the backstrokes, Barnicle’s best event is the 200 IM, having improved even more in this event than he did in the 200 back last season. His IM strength is evident in his individual stroke times, as he’s also got a 45.81 100 free, 49.96 100 fly, and 58.43 100 breast—not as elite as his backstroke times, but there’s still a lot of potential and versatility being shown.
Will Browne — Piedmont Family YMCA — St. Anne’s-Benfield School — Charlottesville, VA
- 50 free: 20.54
- 100 free: 45.30
- 200 free: 1:37.24
- 200 IM: 1:47.72
- 100 fly: 48.22
Browne, who swims for the same club as Heilman and hails from the town where UVA is located, is another very solid sprinter who could be utilized in several different relay situations. He’s the 5th-fastest 100 flyer and 200 IMer in the class, but has also been progressing really well in short-distance freestyle events this season (he dropped nearly 1.5 seconds in the 50 free).
Interestingly, despite being good at the 200 IM and the 200 free being the best of his freestyle events, Browne’s 100 fly time is considerably better than his 200 fly time, which is “only” 1:50.45. That being said, he didn’t swim the 200 fly at YMCA Nationals (where he set his PBs in the 50 free, 200 free, and 100 fly), so I wonder what he could do in the event at a bigger taper meet.
Oliver Rowe — Nitro Swimming — Round Rock, TX
- 500 free: 4:23.10
- 200 free: 1:37.16
- 100 free: 45.29
Rowe is one of many swimmers whose stock got hurt by the massive distance depth in this class. For comparison, his 200 and 500 free times were faster than those of Gregg Enoch, a swimmer who was ranked #18 in the class of 2024 way-too-early rankings based on his distance free times (and we noted that there was an argument that he should have been ranked higher), as a sophomore. That being said, 4:23 and 1:37-low are incredible times, with the former time ranking #6 in the class and the latter time also having the same placement.
However, Rowe’s weak point is that he doesn’t have any other events nearly as good as his 200 and 500 free (and he would have easily been top 20 if he did). He did swim a very promising 2:01.44 long course 200 fly last summer, but wasn’t quite able to translate to short course with his 2022-23 season best being 1:52.22 (he has a PB of 1:50.94).
Andy Kravchenko— Bolles School Sharks — Bolles School — Jacksonville, FL
- 50 free: 20.15
- 100 free: 44.68
- 200 free: 1:38.88
Another sprint freestyle specialist to make this list is Kravchenko, who has the 5th-fastest 50 free time in the class and is knocking on the door of that 20-second barrier. He also recently broke 23 in long course to go 22.85 and finish 4th at Junior Nationals (he beat fellow classmate Howat by 0.02), making him one of the fastest swimmers in the class in the big pool. He also has a strong 100 free, where he’s ranked #7 in the class.
The 200 free is the event that Kravchenko made the most improvement in last season, going from a PB of 1:41.00 to 1:38.88. Overall, his drops were incremental compared to his classmates (20.53 to 20.15 in the 50 free, 45.12 to 44.68 in the 1oo free) this season, but progress is progress.
Alex Thiesing — Lakeside Swim Team — Saint Xavier High School — Louisville, KY
- 50 free: 20.69
- 100 free: 44.73
- 200 free: 1:37.05
Thiesing fits the same 50/100/200 free mold as Kravchenko, except he’s a better 200 freestyler and a slightly slower 50 freestyler. In the 200 free last season, he dropped over five seconds from a personal best time of 1:42.36 to 1:37.05 and is the 5th fastest swimmer in the class for the event. There are plenty of other 20/44 freestylers in this class who could make an argument for having great relay value, but that 200 free time from Thiesing is what solidified his status as an “honorable mention”.
Julien Rousseau — Pacific Swim — Del Norte High School — San Diego, CA
- 200 free: 1:39.26
- 500 free: 4:24.90
- 1000 free: 9:06.62
- 1650 free: 15:12.74
- 400 IM: 3:56.43
In a class where there are three guys under 15 minutes in the mile, a 15:12.74 mile from Rousseau doesn’t get enough credit. However, it’s still the 4th fastest time in the class and a very good time for a high school sophomore. The longest-distance events (1000 and 1650 free) seem to be his best events, but he’s also got potential in the 200/500 free and 400 IM. His event lineup fits that of a typical distance swimmer, but he is one of the best and most well-rounded in this very stacked class.
Gavin Keogh — Flatiron Athletic Club — Monarch High School — Erie, CO
- 200 back: 1:44.78
- 100 back: 48.88
Keogh and Willis, the last two swimmers that will be recognized in this category, are both “honorable mentions” because of one *very* strong event but can’t get into the top 20 because they don’t have any other events on the same level.
In Keogh’s case, it’s the 200 back. His 1:44.78 is ranked third in the class behind McCoy and Williamson, but his 100 back time just isn’t as strong—though he’s still one of the eight sub-49 100 backstrokers in the class. This seems to be the case in long course as well, where his 100 back PB is 58.86 whereas his 200 back PB is a 2:00.64 from finishing third at junior nationals. Notably, his best time in the 200 back long course is three seconds faster than McCoy’s.
Jordan Willis — SwimMAC Carolina —Marvin Ridge High School — Waxhaw, NC
- 100 breast: 56.20
- 200 breast: 1:57.45
The gap between Willis’ 100 and 200 breast is arguably even bigger than Keogh’s gap in the backstrokes, but he’s too good of a 200 breaststroker to not get mentioned. Not only is he one of the three swimmers in this class sub-1:59 in the 200 breast, but he’s also 0.14 seconds off the class-leading time for the event. Like Bey, he’s phenomenal in this event in long course, posting a long course 200 breast best time of 2:13.50 at Nationals this summer to get named onto the World Juniors squad.
Best Of The Rest
- Preston Kessler (20.3/44.5/1:39.2)
- Ryan Henderson (20.3/45.0)
- William Mullgrew (4:26.8/9:11.8/15:18.3)
- Max Carlsen (4:28.8/9:05.5/15:27.11)
- Connor Jones (1:37.8/4:25.2/9:08.8/15:28.2, 3:53.5 4IM)
- Bucky Gettys (4:24.6/9:14.8/15:28.6)
- Jiarui Xue (4:29.5/9:17.2/15:21.7)
- Kjell Cady (4:27.6/9:22.2/15:24.5)
- Ray Liu (48.3/1:47.3, 1:48.4 2IM)
- David Kovacks (48.5/14:5.8, 49.5/1:48.5 FL, 1:49.52 2IM)
- Nate Thomas (49.3/1:45.4)
- Evan Conti (50.3/1:46.3)
- Finney Conklin (54.3/1:59.0)
- Trevor Bodt (55.0/1:59.4)
- Jack Armour (55.1/1:59.5, 3:56.2 4IM) **Notre Dame**
- Noah Cakir (54.7/1:59.4, 4:28.9 5FR)
- Riccardo Osio (48.1/1:48.5)
- Clem Camacho (1:48.6/3:50.8, 1:38.4 2FR)
- Tyler Bardack (3:52.73, 2:00.8 2BR, 1:47.6 2BK, 1:49.8 2FL)
- Ian Platts-Mills (3:53.4)
Feeling nostalgic? Here’s a look back at our historic recruiting class rankings, plus our retrospectives of those classes after four NCAA seasons:
High School Class of 2025
|Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores|
High School Class of 2024
|Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores||Ranks As Juniors|
|High School Class of 2023||Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores||Re-Rank As Seniors|
|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|
|High School Class of 2020||Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores||Ranks as Juniors|
High School Class of 2019
|Ranks as Juniors|
High School Class of 2018
|Ranks as Juniors||Re-Rank As Seniors|
High School Class of 2017
High School Class of 2016
High School Class of 2015
High School Class of 2014
High School Class of 2013