Who Drops? Who Adds? Ranking Women’s NCAA Teams By Average Change From Seed


How much can we glean from the scored psych sheets in anticipation of this week’s Women’s NCAA Championships?

The annual pre-meet exercise tells us what the team standings would be if the event was won on paper using season-best times (not factoring in diving), but teams don’t perform equally at NCAAs.

In an effort to see how teams have historically performed relative to their seeded points, we’ve gone back over the last few years to come up with team-by-team averages of points gained or lost from seed.

Our chart below averages the 2022, 2021 and 2019 seasons, with each team’s gain/loss from seeded points listed. The 2020 meet is missing, as the actual NCAA meet itself was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.


  • Virginia has outperformed their seed by a significant margin in each of the past three seasons, especially last year with a whopping +72.5. This year’s psych sheets has the Cavaliers 77 points ahead of Texas, and with the Longhorns’ diving prowess, UVA may need to surpass their projection once again to secure a third straight title.
  • Louisville has consistently been the best school at stepping up at NCAAs in recent years, and if the Cardinals can keep the trend going there’s a good chance they’ll move up into the top five. They are seeded sixth on the psych sheets, just under 10 points back of Ohio State.
  • The Buckeyes went from +97 in 2021 to -61.5 last season, making their crystal ball a little hazy this season.
  • NC State’s consistency of underperforming and Louisville’s consistent “overperforming” could be an interesting storyline to follow as the ACC rivals could end up being close in the team race.
  • The Florida women combined to go -73 versus their seed in 2019 and 2021, but incredibly turned their three-year average into a positive by going +82 last season. That result happened to coincide with their first campaign under coach Anthony Nesty. However, we’ve seen teams struggle at NCAAs in the past after going all-in on their conference meet: will the Gators have the same fate after a breakthrough SEC victory?
  • Tennessee was historically poor relative to seed last season, scoring well under half of their projected points in the pool. The Lady Vols recorded the only score in excess of -100 over the last three seasons, and it was -161.5. After going all-in on SECs in 2022, we’ll see if they can turn a positive in with a more modest projected score this year.

A few notes on these numbers:

  • The numbers are swimming points only – we’ve factored out diving, where no good version of a psych sheet exists.
  • Points gained from seed are listed in green, while points lost from seed are listed in red.
  • Obviously, there are plenty of outside factors that play into each of these numbers, and they aren’t a hard and fast predictor of future seasons’ outcomes. But we can at least identify multi-year trends as we try to diagnose why those trends exist.
  • The biggest caveat here is that we’re calculating by total points – in order to lose significant points from seed, you also have to have a lot of seeded points. Same goes for the teams at the top, because you can’t move up 50+ points from seed without qualifying lots of individuals and some relays. So you’ll mostly see big-name teams at both extremes, if only because those are the teams with bigger NCAA groups and more ability to move up or down at the meet itself.
  • Where zeroes are listed, a team had athletes at the NCAA meet and finished right on their psych sheet projection, even if that projection was zero. A blank space typically means a team had no swimmers or relays at NCAAs that year, and we didn’t factor that into their average as a zero (though it may have happened in a few cases).
  • We’ve included the 2017 numbers just because we already have them, but the average is based on the most recent three NCAA Championship meets.

If our embedded chart with the colors isn’t loading, here’s a more basic version of the data:

Team Average (Last 3 Years) 2022 2021 2019 2018
Louisville 62.33 62 54.5 70.5 58.5
Virginia 43.33 72.5 16.5 41 1
Stanford 27.50 32 -13 63.5 50.5
UNC 21.67 16 71 -22 -5
Wisconsin 17.00 11 30 10 -14
Duke 14.33 0 2 41 -2
Arizona 14.00 3 1.5 37.5 16
Ohio State 13.50 -61.5 97 5 -17
Northwestern 13.33 -5.5 39 6.5 0
Virginia Tech 7.33 0 17 5 -9
Michigan 7.00 -13.5 15.5 19 -29.5
Minnesota 5.50 -34 0 50.5 -4
Alabama 5.17 32 -26.5 10 -2.5
San Diego State 4.67 2 3 9 0
Penn State 3.33 0 10 6
Houston 3.00 0 9 0 0
Florida 3.00 82 -23.5 -49.5 -1
Yale 2.83 14.5 0 -6 0
South Carolina 2.67 0 8 -0.5
Texas 2.67 83.5 -44 -31.5 17.5
Notre Dame 2.33 0 11 -4 4
FGCU 1.67 0 5
Nebraska 1.33 0 4 0 0
Oakland 0.33 0 1
Purdue 0.00 0 0 0 13.5
Denver 0.00 0 0 0 5
Wyoming 0.00 0 0 0
Miami 0.00 0 0 0 0
Georgia Tech 0.00 0 0 0 0
West Virginia 0.00 0 0 0 -2
Indiana -0.83 -13 36 -25.5 -3.5
Penn -0.8333333333 -2.5 0 0 0
Akron -1.67 0 3 -8 4
Rutgers -1.67 0 -5 0
UCLA -2.00 4 -10 0 2
LSU -2.17 0 0 -6.5 0
Navy -2.33 0 -8 1 0
Hawaii -2.67 0 -8 3.5
Eastern Michigan -2.83 -8.5 18
Florida State -3.00 -12 -2 5 -12.5
Arkansas -3.33 9 -19 0 0
Texas A&M -4.17 -21 30.5 -22 -39
Arizona State -5.67 -23 6 1
California -6.50 -4 -60 44.5 6.5
Missouri -17.67 3 -38 -18 23
Auburn -19.33 -7 0 -51 -41.5
Kentucky -21.00 -25.5 -36 -1.5 -7.5
Georgia -23.50 25.5 -68 -28 34
USC -33.17 -48 -30 -21.5 -58
NC State -33.67 -25 -21 -55 0.5
Tennessee -76.50 -161.5 8 -76 -27

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11 months ago

Alex Walsh is the ranked 30th seed in the W 200 FL, 33rd overall during the course of the 2022-23 NCAA Season according to Swimcloud.


As the defending champion in the W 200 FL, Alex Walsh is better than that. Add a minimum +15 point(s).

Emma Weyant is the only proven contender who could potentially break up the Walsh-Nelson duo in the W 400 IM. Add a minimum +1 point(s).

Ella Nelson was disqualified in the final of the W 200 BR at the 2023 ACC Tournament. Add a minimum +2 point(s).

Add a minimum of 18 points to the University of Virginia total.

There is probably something else I missed on behalf of the University of Virginia.

11 months ago

Tennessee’s results last year were really remarkable.

11 months ago

This is great data but it should also account for coaching changes. Some of these schools would have different rankings and trajectories if that was factored in!

11 months ago

Cool data! Isn’t there also a bias around talent level and how most teams require a full taper just to make NCAA’s, as compared to the more star studded teams? I would expect better drops from the teams at the top with superstars, like Virginia or Stanford, which makes a Louisville that much more impressive.

11 months ago

tbh, i think Braden Halloway is just a touch overrated. It seems the large talent pool of his rosters can never correlate to better than a fourth-place finish (on the men’s side) at NCs.

Seriously, look at the past 5 years of NCS recruiting. They consistently put together better classes than Texas

Don’t get me wrong, he’s an incredible coach, just not in the tier of those upper D1 coaches. I’m sure the monster recruiting classes will correlate to better than a 4th place finish, but if he’s not cracking the top 3 in the next 10 years consistently, some uncomfortable conversations will need to be had.

Reply to  Andrew
11 months ago

NC State isn’t the only team with elite recruiting classes.

He’s coached individual and relay NCAA champions as well as individual and relay NCAA record holders. You gotta to be pretty darn good to do that.

Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
11 months ago

Art- reread my comment.

NCS stands alone in monster recruiting classes with Texas each and every year

Reply to  Andrew
11 months ago

I know you’re a UNC fan, so I don’t really expect anything objective coming from you re: NC State.

But here are NC State’s recruiting rankings on the men’s side according to SwimSwam since 2013 (with their standing at NCAA the year after)

2013: NR (13)
2014: 9 (8)
2015: HM (4)
2016: 5 (4)
2017: 6 (4)
2018: 11 (4)
2019: 2 (No NCAA)
2020: 3 (8, limited roster)
2021: 1, Ponti & Norgaard included (4)
2022: 2 (TBD)

“Stands alone in monster recruiting classes with Texas each and every year”


Reply to  Andrew
11 months ago

Yeah, you’re right. NC State admin should definitely look at their resounding success before his tenure as head coach and have those ‘uncomfortable conversations’ with him.

Reply to  Andrew
11 months ago

Who would you put in that tier of upper D1 coaches then? Holloway’s ridiculously talented classes have really just been the last 2 on the men’s side and it’s still early to see how they pan out.

Holloway has consistently put swimmers on international teams, coached someone who was not a well regarded recruit to a world record, and seen the men’s and women’s team thrive at the same time. If he’s not in your top tier then that tier based on college results, then your top tier is just Eddie and Durden. I think we all know Nesty is at that level, but hasn’t been the HC of a college team long enough to have those team results,… Read more »

Reply to  oxyswim
11 months ago

S tier: Durden, Eddie, Bauerle (retired now, obviously), Nesty, Bowman

A tier: Desorbo, Looze, Arthur Albiero, Sergio Lopez, Holloway

don’t feel like doing any more tiers

Bottom tier: Peter Andrew and Coley Stickels

Reply to  Andrew
11 months ago

Bowman’s women’s team has 3 qualifiers this year. You can put him in your S tier as a coach, but that’s not based on college results.

Reply to  Andrew
11 months ago

ASU’s NCAA standings under Bowman (Men/Women):

2016: 44/31
2017: 14/29
2018: 20/23
2019: 21/20
2020: Covid
2021: Redshirt
2022: 6/26

S-tier coach 😉

Andy Johnson
11 months ago

A point on the data: seems as if a percent change, rather than a raw change magnitude, would be a worthwhile addition. Hard to compare changes in seed when the teams score anywhere from 1 to 500 points

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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