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.
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.
- Distance-heavy group at the top
- Very much in-development
- Sprint free is deep, but without a clear frontrunner
- One-distance breaststrokers trying to develop range
- Thin back/fly groups
On paper, this group reminds us of the boys class of 2022 when we ranked them out as sophomores last spring. There weren’t a ton of household names in that group, and it kind of felt like a jumble of talents with similar times. When we re-ranked that group as juniors last month, we saw a ton of shuffling in our top 20 – and we wouldn’t be surprised if this group of girls see a lot of similar jumps and falls in ranking next year.
Right now, this is a distance-dominated class, without a ton of immediate-impact sprinters. Maybe that’s par for the course, with extra age, strength, size and development helping sprint times improve more over the late high school years than distance times. But this is also just a class where some of the top overall talents happen to be distance standouts.
We’ve got three true distance swimmers in our top 6 for the time being, and the lowest-ranked of those three would be among the best 500 freestyles in any other sophomore class we’ve ranked.
On the flip side, the sprints are very much a work in progress. Really only one of our top 15 could be considered a true sprint freestyler in the 50/100 mold. But the class is exceptionally deep in those events, with a huge crowd of swimmers outside our top 20 still sitting in the 22-high/49-mid range. (Our top times in the entire class are 22.5/48.9, so you can see how densely-packed this group is). Expect to see a key sprinter or two emerge and jump way up into our top 10 by next spring based on relay value.
As far as strokes go, this is a good breaststroke class – even better than the class of 2022’s girls in that stroke. But none of the top breaststrokers really have really developed a 100 and 200 breast to the same level. Maybe that’s another effect of a year of limited training and racing opportunities. Maybe it’s just the natural development of swimmers trying to dial in the strategy at two different distances.
Breaststroke is pretty deep, but backstroke and butterfly are relatively thin in contrast. There are some very good flyers near the top of the class, but depth drops off. Backstroke is pretty thin as a whole, with even 53/1:55-type swimmers pretty rare.
|Top Times in the Class of 2023|
|50 Free||Camille Spink||22.55|
|100 Free||Camille Spink||48.93|
|200 Free||Bella Sims||1:44.21|
|500 Free||Bella Sims||4:32.13|
|1000 Free**||Bella Sims||9:32.59|
|1650 Free||Cavan Gormsen||15:58.97|
|100 Back||Berit Berglund||52.09|
|200 Back||Kiley Wilhelm||1:52.71|
|100 Breast||Caroline Bricker||59.73|
|200 Breast||Grace Rainey||2:10.25|
|100 Fly||Tess Howley||52.33|
|200 Fly||Tess Howley||1:53.95|
|200 IM||Bella Sims||1:56.12|
|400 IM||Bella Sims||4:06.59|
**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 2023
1. Bella Sims – Sandpipers of Nevada – home-schooled – Henderson, NV
Best Times: 500 free – 4:32.13, 200 free – 1:44.21, 400 IM – 4:06.59, 200 IM – 1:56.12, 200 fly – 1:54.89, 100 fly – 52.84, 200 back – 1:53.66, 100 back – 54.76, 1650 free – 16:37.19, 1000 free – 9:32.59, 100 free – 49.16, 50 free – 22.83
You might be thinking ‘Dang, SwimSwam, did you just list every single short course event?’. The answer is yes, we pretty much did. (Except breaststroke, which is still a controversial inclusion to the sport for many swimmers and swim fans). Sims definitely pops the most as a distance freestyle, and we’d probably project her as a 200/500/1650 type. Going back four years now, Sims is the fastest sophomore 500 freestyler we’ve ever ranked – and it’s not close. The past three years, the top sophomore 500 freestyler was 4:41 every year. (Claire Tuggle in the Class of ’22; Paige McKenna in the Class of ’21; Regan Smith in the Class of ’20). Sims is 4:32. That’s a time that would have won last year’s NCAA title. And even in a better distance year (the 500 free was notably ‘off’ at NCAAs this year, perhaps a product of the pandemic), you’d be hard-pressed to find a year of NCAA results where 4:32 doesn’t earn you a top-3 finish. A few more reference points on that 500 free: last year’s NCAA winner Paige Madden was 4:43 as a high school sophomore. NCAA champion Brooke Forde was 4:50. The great Katie Ledecky was 4:31.3 as a high school sophomore.
We haven’t even mentioned any other events yet. Sims has the class’s best times in five different events. She’s got four times that would have made A finals at 2021 NCAAs (200 free, 500 free, 200 IM, 400 IM), along with two more scoring times (200 back, 200 fly). She’s near the best in the class down to the 50 and 100 free, with rare Ledeckian ability to swim distance but contribute to multiple free relays. Sims also hasn’t really had a chance to improve her 1000 free or 1650 free times since 2019, but her recent successes in the longer open water events suggest her mile is probably going to rise to the level of her 500 in short order.
2. Tess Howley – Long Island Aquatic Club – Sacred Heart Academy – Rockaway Park, NY
Best Times: 200 fly – 1:53.95, 100 fly – 52.33, 50 free – 22.93, 100 free – 49.55, 200 free – 1:47.19, 200 back – 1:56.30, 100 back – 54.02
Howley is the best overall butterflyer in the class by a fair margin. She’s got an NCAA scoring time in the 200 fly, and compares pretty favorably to the best 200 flyers in previous sophomore recruiting classes (Charlotte Hook ’22 was 1:53.7; Regan Smith ’20 was 1:53.5). More recently, Howley has surged in long course, breaking a minute with a 59.9 in the 100-meter fly. She’s got great freestyles alongside her fly times, which should put her in line for a lot of relay opportunities wherever she ends up. Howley also hit career-bests in the long course 100/200 frees in 2021 (56.5/2:01) in times that bode well for her future in freestyle.
3. Kiley Wilhelm – Life Time Swim Team – Myers Park High School – Charlotte, NC
Best Times: 200 back – 1:52.71, 100 back – 53.48, 200 IM – 1:56.67, 100 fly – 52.60, 400 IM – 4:16.29, 200 free – 1:46.81
Wilhelm is the best all-around backstroker in the class. But with how crowded those events are getting at the NCAA level, she may actually project best as a 200 specialist – perhaps a 200 back/200 IM/200 free type. Wilhelm has NCAA scoring times in the 200 back and 200 IM, and a good enough 100 fly to also threaten as a fly/back hybrid type at the NCAA level. Her long course times (1:00.9/2:12.0 back; 1:00.2 fly) might suggest that’s her best avenue for NCAA impact. The 200 free offers a good outlet for relay impact, and Wilhelm is on the cusp of breaking 50 in the 100 free, which would put her in the thick of the pure freestylers in this class.
4. Cavan Gormsen – Long Island Aquatic Club – Sacred Heart Academy – Wantagh, NY
Best Times: 1650 free – 15:58.97, 1000 free – 9:35.18, 500 free – 4:38.45, 200 free – 1:46.18, 100 free – 49.77
Another distance talent in our top 4. Gormsen’s 4:38.45 in the 500 free has to be put in the context we used for Sims above – it’s very rare for us to see a sophomore recruit under 4:40, and Gormsen is well below that. She’s also been 2:00 and 4:10 in long course. Gormsen currently has the best mile in the class in a time that would have made the top 8 at 2021 NCAAs in both the mile and 500 free. That gives her immediate scoring potential, while range down to 1:46.1 in the 200 and even 49.7 in the 100 offer more long-term growth opportunities into the relays.
5. Camille Spink – Nation’s Capital Swim Club – Battlefield High School – Haymarket, VA
Best Times: 200 free – 1:46.18, 100 free – 48.93, 50 free – 22.55, 500 free – 4:49.51, 100 back – 53.89, 200 back – 1:57.44, 200 IM – 2:01.33
Spink is the best sprint freestyler in this class, but even she is arguably better at the 200 than the 50 or 100. She did improve both her 50 free (by three-tenths of a second) and 100 free (two-tenths) in 2021, where her best 200 free time comes from pre-pandemic, so maybe there’s a bigger drop coming in the 200 soon. Spink is one of the best long course freestylers in this class, with bests of 25.8, 56.0 and 2:01.9 in meters. She’s not at the level of the top sprinter in the last two sophomore classes (Claire Curzan ’22: 21.7/47.6; Gretchen Walsh ’21: 21.8/47.4), but those were historical sprint outliers. Spink is a lot more in line with the top sophomore sprinters in the class of ’20: Alex Walsh at 22.0 and Regan Smith at 48.8.
6. Michaela Mattes – Sarasota Sharks – Cardinal Mooney School – Sarasota, FL
Best Times: 500 free – 4:42.98, 1000 free – 9:46.56, 1650 free – 16:21.06, 400 IM – 4:15.39, 200 free – 1:48.54, 200 fly – 1:59.20, 200 IM – 2:01.10
Mattes is the third in our trio of highly-ranked distance prospects. She’s got a 500 free that would have scored at 2021 NCAAs, along with some of the class’s best times in the 1000 and 1650 frees. Mattes projects as a true distance swimmer who will probably swim the 500 & 1650 and choose between the 200 free and 400 IM on day 2 of NCAAs. A 4:15.3 in the IM is no joke, either. We tend to see a lot of drops in the IMs at the college level, and Mattes is currently one of the best in this class.
7. Caroline Bricker – Cheyenne Mountain Aquatics – Cheyenne Mountain High School – Colorado Springs, CO
Best Times: 100 breast – 59.73, 200 breast – 2:11.08, 400 IM – 4:13.02, 200 IM – 1:59.41, 100 fly – 54.51
Bricker is the best 100 breaststroker in the class, and it’s probably fair to say she’s the best two-distance breaststroker, too. Her 200 definitely isn’t quite in line with her sub-minute 100 yet, but there’s one very good reason to believe a 200 breast drop is coming: Bricker’s 400 IM, which actually would have earned an NCAA invite in 2021. With a 4:13.0 in the IM, there’s clearly no toughness or endurance issues with Bricker, and that bodes very well for extending her breaststroke speed upwards.
8. Campbell Stoll – Elmbrook Swim Club – Arrowhead High School – Hartland, WI
Best Times: 200 fly – 1:56.14, 100 fly – 52.81, 100 back – 53.40, 200 back – 1:55.88, 200 IM – 1:58.76, 400 IM – 4:14.96, 100 breast – 1:01.51, 200 breast – 2:12.76
Stoll is a classic fly/back combo swimmer with very solid speed and range in both strokes. Butterfly is probably her stronger suit at this point – her 200 fly would have earned an NCAA invite in 2021 and would have come within half a second of scoring points. She’s also one of the better 100 flyers in the class and is on the cusp of a sub-minute long course 100. Stoll is perhaps especially intriguing as an IM prospect. She’s got very good 100s and 200s of all four strokes, really. (She’s 50.7/1:50.6 in freestyle). Stoll has the fly/back speed to have a killer front half of an IM, and the versatility to see some massive drops there over the next two years and at the college level.
9. Julia Podkoscielny– Pine Crest Swim Team – Pine Crest School – Fort Lauderdale, FL
Best Times: 400 IM – 4:12.91, 200 IM – 1:58.72, 100 back – 53.75, 200 back – 1:55.39, 500 free – 4:46.85, 200 free – 1:47.56
Podkoscielny is another very versatile talent who could take a number of event paths at the college level. 4:12 in the 400 IM is the headliner for the time being, but Podkoscielny is also a very good backstroker and even 500 freestyler. In long course, she’s been 4:44 in the 400 IM, pretty much locking that in as her best overall event. As we mentioned above, we tend to see a lot of college-level time drops in the IMs, too. Podkoscielny is also on the cusp of 22 and 49 in freestyle (she’s 23.0/50.2 right now) and could find an avenue for relay scoring with a good junior year there.
10. Erin Gemmell – Nation’s Capital Swim Club – Stone Ridge School – Potomac, MD
Best Times: 200 free – 1:45.96, 500 free – 4:45.88, 100 free – 49.44, 1000 free – 9:55.06, 1650 free – 16:39.70, 200 IM – 2:00.72
Gemmell is another mid-distance freestyler in a very good, crowded class of them. Her best events are clearly centered around the 200 and 500 frees, where she’s knocking on the door of 2021 NCAA scoring times. Even better, she’s the best swimmer in this class across the 100/200 frees in long course, hitting times of 55.5 and 1:59.2 this spring. Those times are even better than #1 overall recruit Sims. Gemmell will probably need to develop her range a little more, either up towards the mile or down towards the 100, but has the building blocks already in place to be a key NCAA contributor.
11. Grace Rainey – SwimMAC Carolina – William Amos Hough High School – Davidson, NC
Best Times: 200 breast – 2:10.25, 100 breast – 1:00.58, 400 IM – 4:16.99, 200 IM – 2:00.98
There’s definitely an argument for Rainey over Bricker as the top overall breaststroker in the class. Rainey has the class’s best 200 breast, a time that would have earned an NCAA invite in 2021 (though the jump to a scoring-level 2:08.6 is huge in that event). She’s also on the cusp of a sub-minute 100 breast, which is relatively rare among sophomores. In long course, Rainey (1:09.4/2:30.9) is well ahead of Bricker (1:10.9/2:36.9). Rainey doesn’t quite have the IM versatility of Bricker, but 4:16/2:00 there is a plenty good starting point to developing a third NCAA event.
12. Berit Berglund – Carmel Swim Club – Carmel High School – Carmel, IN
Best Times: 100 back – 52.09, 200 back – 1:57.98, 200 free – 1:48.72
Berglund has extreme upside – in fact, if we were setting odds among swimmers in this class who could crack the top 10 by next year, she’d be incredibly high on that list. She’s got the best 100 back in this class by virtue of a 1.4-second drop in Indiana’s high school season. That 52.0 would have scored at 2021 NCAAs. At the same time, Berglund doesn’t have a second event at that level yet. She cut almost two seconds in her 200 back, but needs that improvement curve to continue to get into NCAA scoring range. Her best 200 free time is from pre-pandemic, so that might be an event to watch, and Berglund took a full second off her 100 free this year to go 50.1.
13. Lucy Thomas – Elmbrook Swim Club – Brookfield East High School – Elm Grove, WI
Best Times: 100 breast – 1:00.15, 200 breast – 2:12.20, 50 free – 22.84, 100 free – 50.01, 200 free – 1:48.50
Thomas ranks right up among the top 100 breaststroker in the class with outstanding speed. (She’s also 1:09.0 in the long course version of the event as of April). What’s not clear yet is whether Thomas will grow into a 100/200 breaststroker after dropping four seconds in the 200 this year, or whether she’ll become more of an all-around sprinter between the 100 breast and the 50/100 frees. She’s also had massive freestyle drops (from 23.6/51.6 to 22.8/50.0) in the past year, so all options are still on the table.
14. Jillian Cox – Austin Swim Club – Cedar Park, TX
Best Times: 1650 free – 16:24.28, 1000 free – 9:47.54, 500 free – 4:44.46, 200 free – 1:48.82
Cox is yet another strong distance freestyler in the mix in this class. Both her 1650 and 500 frees would have earned NCAA invites in 2021. Her 1000 is one of the better times in the class. And Cox also has really good speed down to the 200, where 1:48.8 could put her on an 800 free relay somewhere down the road. Cox did drop about 8 seconds in her 1000 over the past year, but didn’t register a drop in the 1650, so there might be some time drops waiting in her future as the sport returns from the pandemic.
15. Eleanor Sun – Nation’s Capital Swim Club – Stone Ridge School – Bethesda, MD
Best Times: 400 IM – 4:14.26, 200 IM – 1:59.86, 200 fly – 1:58.80, 100 fly – 54.79
The third Nation’s Capital swimmer in our top 15, Sun is a very strong IMer and probably projects to add the 200 fly to that for an NCAA lineup. 4:14.2 in the 400 IM would have been only about a second away from an NCAA invite in 2021. She’s also dropping time at an incredible rate. One year ago, Sun was 2:01.2/4:20.2 in the IMs – that’s right, she’s dropped six seconds in the 400 IM as a sophomore and appears to be trending up sharply. Sun is also 4:49.8 in the long course 400 IM.
16. Macky Hodges – Mission Viejo Nadadores – Santa Margarita Catholic High School – Ladera Ranch, CA
Best Times: 500 free – 4:47.56, 200 free – 1:47.30, 100 free – 50.12, 200 back – 1:57.63
Mackenzie ‘Macky’ Hodges kind of fits the mold of Sims and Gemmell: she’s got excellent times centered around the 200 and 500 frees, and the big question is whether she’ll ultimately swim up to the mile or down towards the 100. At this point, she’s much more of a mid-distance/mid-sprint swimmer, with a far better 100 (50.1) than 1650 (19:09). But that 1650 time is nearly three years old, and is the only mile swim she’s ever registered in the USA Swimming database. Given her Mission Viejo club’s historical successes with distance swimmers, Hodges is a good candidate for a late-high-school breakout in the mile, if she does decide to extend her range some.
17. Keelan Cotter – TAC Titans – Green Hope High School – Cary, NC
Best Times: 500 free – 4:47.69, 200 free – 1:47.59, 1650 free – 16:48.53, 1000 free – 10:07.06, 100 free – 50.39, 400 IM – 4:19.64, 200 IM – 2:01.43
Right now, Cotter almost exactly matches Hodges through that 200/500 range, coming within tenths of Hodges’ times in both swims. Cotter has much more experience in the upper distances, though, and also brings some intriguing developmental IMs to the table. Cotter has had a good spring in long course meters, going 57.4 in the 100-meter free. And her improvement curve is off the charts, including a 7-second drop in the 500 free since this time last year.
18. Lainy Kruger – Northern Kentucky Clippers – Notre Dame Academy – Taylor Mill, KY
Best Times: 200 free – 1:47.45, 100 free – 49.67, 100 breast – 1:01.85, 200 breast – 2:13.91, 200 IM – 2:00.50
Kruger has a super interesting event range, from mid-sprint freestyle across to breaststroke. She’s basically got a 200 free to match most of the mid-distance types above, but probably brings more relay value by virtue of a 49.6 in the 100 free. Kruger is also right in the mix with most of the pure breaststrokers, so a lot will depend on where she puts her focus over the next two years. Of course, the IM is the candidate for a big explosion, given the upside she has in the back half of that event. Kruger is also a 55.8 flyer.
19. Maggie Belbot – North Baltimore Aquatic Club – Bryn Mawr School – Baltimore, MD
Best Times: 100 fly – 53.36, 200 fly – 1:59.53, 200 free – 1:48.30, 100 free – 50.28, 200 IM – 2:00.77
Belbot really represents a lot of the remaining butterflyers in this class – there’s a lot of 53-second speed in the 100 without a ton of 200 fly range to back it up. Belbot hit both of those career-best butterfly swims as a 14-year-old in 2019, so she might be a potential breakout candidate over her junior year. Belbot is also a very good long course flyer (1:00.9) and has an intriguing 1:02 in the 100-yard breaststroke that might make her an interesting developmental 200 IMer.
20. Maggie Schalow – Irvine Novaquatics – Corona Del Mar High School – Corona del Mar, CA
Best Times: 100 fly – 53.71, 200 fly – 1:59.31, 200 free – 1:47.99
Not only do Schalow and Belbot share a first name, they share almost identical times in their top three events. If you really want to emphasize a swimmer’s top three races, you could argue for Schalow ahead of Belbot based on slightly better 200 fly/200 free times. Schalow doesn’t quite have the multi-stroke versatility or the big long course 100 of Belbot yet, but she’s also got a really good 200-yard base to build from over the next two years. Both of Schalow’s career-best fly times above come from pre-pandemic, and like many California athletes, she hasn’t had many racing opportunities over the past year. That might make her a breakout candidate for next year’s ranks.
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.
Hannah Bellard – Club Wolverine – Grosse Ile High School – Grosse Ile, MI
Best Times: 200 fly – 1:57.12, 100 fly – 54.88, 200 free – 1:48.80
Bellard is so close to Belbot and Schalow in the butterfly events, depending on how differently you weigh the 200 vs the 100. (For us, the relay value of the 100 is a bit of a tiebreaker here). Bellard has a great 200 fly that would have earned an NCAA invite in 2021 and been about a second and a half from scoring range. She’s also got a good 200 free, and has dropped 2.4 seconds in her 200 fly over the past 12 months.
Mary McKenna – Long Island Express – Saint Anthony’s High School – Seaford, NY
Best Times: 1650 free – 16:21.86, 1000 free – 9:53.01, 400 IM – 4:19.81
McKenna has another NCAA invite time – this one in the 1650 free. She doesn’t yet have a second or third event at that level, but should be on her way to developing them. Pretty much all of McKenna’s best times come from the pre-pandemic era, so it’s very hard to tell where she’s at now. In fact, McKenna hasn’t logged a single 1650 free this season, but did hit personal bests (8:53/4:25) in the long course 800 and 400 frees.
Alexa Fulton – Upper Main Line YMCA – Downington East High School – Exton, PA
Best Times: 50 free – 22.71, 100 free – 49.69, 200 free – 1:49.33, 100 fly – 54.56
There were two more sprinters we really thought would fit into our top 20 somewhere. Fulton is the first, with times not far off the best in the class in the 50 and 100 frees. She’s dropped a ton of time over the past year, from 23.1/51.1/1:52.6 as of June 2020. That 200 free isn’t quite at ranked recruit level yet, but could get there in a hurry. Fulton is also 25.8 in the long course 50.
Gaby van Brunt – Georgia Coastal Aquatic Team – St. Andrew’s School – Savannah, GA
Best Times: 50 free – 22.85, 100 fly – 53.72, 100 back – 53.91, 100 free – 49.89
Van Brunt has a super intriguing combo of free/fly/back speed in the sprints. She’s among the best 50 freestylers in the class, and probably a step away from challenging the best in the class in the 100 fly and 100 back. (She’s also 1:00.4 in the long course 100 fly).
BEST OF THE REST
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:
- Jada Scott (22.6/49.5)
- Sydney Smith (23.4/49.7/1:47.3)
- Meghan Christman (22.5/50.0)
- Claire McLean (23.1/49.6)
- Helena Jones (23.0/49.6)
- Distance free:
- Katie Russell (16:39/9:55, 4:22IM)
- Maya Lofland (16:44/10:02)
- Madison Smith (1:48.9/4:54/9:59/16:53)
- Sophie Brison (54.4/1:55.6, 2:00IM)
- Jo Jo Ramey (55.5/1:56.5, 1:47.5FR)
- Lily Welsh (53.8/1:57.5)
- Tori Brostowitz (1:00.9/2:15.6, 54.0FL, 2:00IM)
- Zoey Zeller (1:02.1/2:11.3)
- Maggie Papanicholas (1:01.3/2:12.8)
- Edie Simecek (53.6/1:59.8)
- Angela Quan (53.5/1:59.8)
- Elizabeth Tilt (2:00.2/4:16.1, 53.4FL)
- Megan Hutchins (2:00.1/4:16.9)
- Molly Blanchard (2:01.2/4:16.4)
- Katie McCarthy (2:01.9/4:16.8, 4:48.3/1:48.5FR)
- Teagan Steinmetz (2:02.7/4:16.6)
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 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||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|
|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|