Women’s Recruiting Class Rankings Revisited: Top 12 Schools For 2017-2021

Every summer, we rank down the top recruiting classes snagged by each team. But what do those rankings look like four years later, when each swimmer has had an opportunity to complete a full NCAA career of competing and scoring?

We’ve already looked back at our top 20 individual athletes in the high school graduating class of 2017, ranked when they were high school juniors in the summer of 2016. Now it’s time to look back at our team-by-team recruiting class rankings to see which teams got most from their recruiting hauls.

Back in July of 2017, we ranked out the top 12 recruiting classes nationwide. You can look back on our ranks here:

We’ve republished each of the 12 classes below, verbatim from how they were listed in our 2017 post. Then we tracked down some stats on each class, plus a short analysis of each class along with any extra swimmers who wound up being part of the class.

Bear in mind that international swimmers throw a wrinkle into this sort of analysis, given the difficulty in projecting ahead of time when an international recruit will join an NCAA program and officially start their eligibility.

Note: The ‘number of NCAA Scorers’ section refers only to individual scorers, and only among athletes included in our original recruiting class rankings. Late additions to the classes are noted when we can find them.

*Special 2020 note: with the 2020 NCAA Championships canceled, any 2020 references below refer to psych sheet scoring, including the team finish, marked with an asterisk.

#12: VIRGINIA CAVALIERS

Top-tier additions: #18 Paige MaddenKyla VallsErin EarleyAbby RichterEmma Seiberlich
Others: 
Anna Pang, Marcie Maguire, Caroline Gmelich, Jocelyn Porter (diver)

  • NCAA finishes over 3* years: 9th, 6th, *1st*, 1st
  • Number of NCAA scorers in class: 5 (Madden, Valls, Richter, Seiberlich, Gmelich)

This was an outstanding class for Virginia, helping power that program’s rise to an NCAA title in their senior seasons. This crew was recruited by Virginia’s old coaching staff, with our recruit rankings coming out just a month before UVA hired Todd Desorbo away from NC State. But they swam all four seasons under Desorbo & co. Madden lived up to billing and more as the #18 recruit, scoring the second-most points of any recruit in this class and leading the class with 3 individual NCAA titles.

Four unranked recruits scored points. Seiberlich and Richter scored as sophomores, but both actually dropped off the roster in their senior seasons. Meanwhile Gmelich and Valls both scored for the first time as seniors. Valls also won an NCAA title as part of a relay.

#11:  ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE

Top-tier additions: Leonie KullmannFlora Molnar
Others: 
Amy Stevens (diver), Bean Faunce, Julia Kukla, Kaila Wong, Kathryn Nicholson, Leonie Kullmann, Lydia Jackson, Mallory Underwood, Maria Reed, Nicole Smith, Sezin Eligul, Sydney Dawson, Tori van Buskirk

  • NCAA finishes over 3* years: 30th, 34th, *12th*, 5th
  • Number of NCAA scorers in class: 0

No individual scorers out of this bunch, but that’s also not the full picture. Molnar was seeded to score in the canceled 2020 meet. She also helped Alabama win its first-ever NCAA relay title this year, splitting 47.9 on the 400 free relay and also scoring as part of the 200 free relay in 6th. Kaila Wong swam the breaststroke leg of the scoring 200 medley relay.

#10:  NC STATE WOLFPACK

Top-tier additions: Julia PooleTamila HolubOlivia CaleganJacquee ClabeauxSummer Finke (transfer), Lexie Lupton (transfer)
Others: Maddie Morello, Miranda Donley, Olivia Fisher, Kate Moore, Danika Huizinga, Anna Shumate

  • NCAA finishes over 3* years: 18th, 7th, *4th*, 2nd
  • Number of NCAA scorers in class: 4 (Moore, Poole, Holub, Calegan)

This group saw a massive rise in NC State’s team finish. Interestingly, the biggest individual scorer, Kate Moorewasn’t even one of their most-touted recruits in this class. Moore and Julia Poole each scored as sophomores and seniors, with projected psych sheet points as juniors in 2020. Holub scored as a freshman but dropped off the roster after her sophomore year.

#9:  GEORGIA BULLDOGS

Top-tier additions: #1 Courtney HarnishSammie BurchillOlivia AndersonDanielle Dellatorre
Others: 
Donna Blaum, Emmaline Peterson, Kayla Tennant, Maddie Wallis

  • NCAA finishes over 3* years: 11th, 18th, *6th*, 8th
  • Number of NCAA scorers in class: 3 (Harnish, Anderson, Dellatorre)

Harnish lived up to her #1 billing, scoring individually in all three meets, and she was seeded to score her highest total (38) in the canceled 2020 meet. Anderson and Dellatorre scored as seniors.

#8: TEXAS LONGHORNS

Top-tier additions: #11 Victoria Edwards (TX – fly/back), Evie Pfeifer (MO – free), Ella Tierney (IL – free), Kennedy Lohman (Arizona transfer – breast)
The rest: Ashley Pollok, Emily Reese, Grace Ritch, Peyton Quattlebaum, Logan Shiller

  • NCAA finishes over 3* years: 6th, 5th, *19th*, 3rd
  • Number of NCAA scorers in class: 1 (Pfeifer)

Ranked recruit Edwards didn’t scored, but Pfeifer more than made up for that by scoring 87.5 individually, the #3 overall scorer in the class. Key transfer Lohman didn’t score individually, but did fill a much-needed breaststroke vacancy on the medley relays and was an All-American with several top 8 relay finishes.

#7: FLORIDA GATORS

Top-tier additions: Liliana Szilagyi (Hungary – fly), #17 Taylor Ault (CA – distance free), Bettina Boszormenyi (Hungary – free), Rachel Ramey (TX – breast)
The rest: Nikki Miller, Gabrielle Hillis, Jillian Hatch (Pacific transfer), Emma Whitner (diving)

  • NCAA finishes over 3* years: 35th, 24th, *13th*, 17th
  • Number of NCAA scorers in class: 1 (diver Ashley McCool)

Szilagyi was the big driver of this rank, but she never wound up competing for the Gators. Diver Ashley McCool finished off her career by scoring at NCAAs and was an SEC champion on 1-meter.

#6: TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS

Top-tier additions: #5 Nikol Popov (CA – breast/IM), Tjasa Pintar (Slovenia – free/breast/IM), Alexis Yager (IL – IM/breast), Stanzi Moseley (USC transfer – free)
The rest: Emily Sykes, Megan Sichterman, Bailey Grinter, Amanda Nunan

  • NCAA finishes over 3* years: 7th, 8th, *2nd*, 10th
  • Number of NCAA scorers in class: 5 (Popov, Pintar, Yager, Nunan, Moseley)

This class finishes with mostly low-level individual scoring, but probably would have seen its total points at least double if the 2020 meet had happened. Popov scored as a sophomore and won an NCAA relay title that year with a strong 50 breast split on the 200 medley. Moseley was a key transfer who scored in 2018 and was a key relay piece for Tennessee throughout a big rise in the NCAA finish order as a team.

#5: CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS

Top-tier additions: Robin Neumann (Netherlands – free), Sarah Darcel (Canada – IM/breast), Sophie Krivokapic-Zhou (CA – back), Ali Harrison (CA – breast)
The rest: Alexandra Skorus-Neely, Dannie Dilsaver, Natalie Tuck, Elizabeth Bailey, Briana Thai (diving), Jackie IM (diving), Kathleen Navas (diving)

  • NCAA finishes over 3* years: 2nd, 2nd, *3rd*, 4th
  • Number of NCAA scorers in class: 2 (Neumann, Darcel)

This was a small and more internationally-based class, but both Neumann and Darcel came through well. Neumann was a top 10 overall scorer in the class and the #1 international prospect in scoring. Darcel scored a dozen points as a freshmen, but scratched out of the meet as a sophomore.

#4: USC TROJANS

Top-tier additions: #3 Margaret Aroesty (NY – breast/IM), #13 Marta Ciesla (FL – sprint free), #14 Caitlin Tycz (ME – fly), Isabella Rongione
The rest: N/A

  • NCAA finishes over 3* years: 12th, 10th, *8th*, 22nd
  • Number of NCAA scorers in class: 1 (Aroesty)

This crew always looked on the cusp of a breakout that never quite materialized. Aroesty did score 9 points as a freshman, which is difficult to do. But after that, this group’s scoring dried up. They also went through a coaching change late in their careers when Dave Salo retired and Jeremy Kipp jumped from Northwestern.

#3: TEXAS A&M AGGIES

Top-tier additions: #9 Taylor Pike (AR – fly), #16 Anna Belousova (MD/Russia – breast), #19 Joy Field (TX – distance), Haley Yelle (TX – distance)
The rest: Kara Eisenmann, Audrey McMurry, Camryn Toney, Jing Wen Quah, McKenna Debever (Auburn transfer), Charlye Campbell (diver), Haley Walding (diver), Kaja Skrzek (diver)

  • NCAA finishes over 3* years: 3rd, 13th, *25th*, 14th
  • Number of NCAA scorers in class: 6 (Belousova, Pike, Campbell, Toney, Quah, Yelle)

What a great class this turned out to be. Belousova only swam in two NCAA meets, but scored 45 total points. Pike and Campbell each scored 20+ individually. The NCAA finishes really fluctuated over this group’s four years, but it wasn’t for lack of scoring from this class.

#2: MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

Top-tier additions: #2 Sierra Schmidt (PA – distance), #15 Alexis Margett (CA – fly), Miranda Tucker (IU transfer), Taylor Garcia (Arizona transfer), Daria Pyshnenko (IL – sprinter), Kate Krolikowski (CA – free/IM)
The rest: Alex Hughes, Claire Maiocco, Emma Cleason, Margaret Rogers (diver), Nikki Canale (diver), Christy Cutshaw (diver)

  • NCAA finishes over 3* years: 4th, 3rd, *5th*, 6th
  • Number of NCAA scorers in class: 3 (Schmidt, Cutshaw, Tucker)

Schmidt was an outstanding scorer, the #6 overall individual scorer in the class. Cutshaw scored as a freshman in diving. Pyshnenko never actually scored individually, but was a really key relay piece and was seeded to score 8.5 in the canceled 2020 meet.

#1: STANFORD CARDINAL

Top-tier additions: #4 Brooke Forde (KY – IM/everything), #6 Lauren Pitzer (TX – free), #8 Hannah Kukurugya (IN – fly), #10 Grace Zhao (CA – breast), #12 Ashley Volpenhein (OH – sprint free)
The rest: Lauren Green, Katie Glavinovich

  • NCAA finishes over 3* years: 1st, 1st, *7th*, 9th
  • Number of NCAA scorers in class: 3 (Forde, Pitzer, Zhao)

Our recruit rankings always inspire plenty of discussion about how much elite recruiting really matters compared to talent development. While we all remember the out-of-nowhere breakout types, this Stanford class shows just how much recruiting elite prospects still consistently outscored the diamond-in-the-rough type recruiting.

For a class with five of our top 20 recruits, this group was fairly hit-or-miss. Yet that incoming talent baseline was just so high that Stanford still had the #1 scoring group out of any of these classes. Forde was a smash hit, scoring 104 individual points and leading all individual scorers in the class. She also led the way with 3 individual NCAA titles and 2 relay wins.

Pitzer scored as a freshman and sophomore, but didn’t make the meet as a senior. Same goes for Zhao. The other two ranked recruits never scored individually.

If nothing else, this class is a reminder of why we put stock in recruiting class rankings. While not every top-20 recruit pans out, the odds of finding a smash scorer like Forde are way, way higher in top-20-type recruits than in the developmental types. Recruiting and athlete development are both factors in final NCAA scoring… but elite recruiting continues to be the most reliable factor in predicting NCAA scoring.

 

RE-RANKING THE CLASSES

Certainly, individual points don’t encapsulate everything a recruiting class brings to a program over four years. But they are the easiest way to rank the classes against each other four years later. Here’s a look at all the classes represented, ranked by individual points from all swimmers in this graduating class:

Rank Team Points Over 4 Years
1 Stanford 134
2 Texas A&M 133.5
3 Virginia 124
4 Arkansas 88
5 Texas 87.5
6 Arizona 76.5
7 Michigan 64
8 Cal 63
9 NC State 60
10 Georgia 54
11 Ohio State 46.5
12 Northwestern 44
13 Purdue 39
14 Minnesota 37
15 Kentucky 35
16 Nebraska 33
17 Arizona State 23
17 Missouri 23
19 Georgia Tech 22
20 Indiana 19
20 Miami 19
22 Virginia Tech 16
23 San Diego State 15
24 Louisville 12
24 Tennessee 12
26 Florida 11
27 Houston 9
27 USC 9
29 FGCU 6
30 Auburn 3
31 Notre Dame 1

And our new top 12, purely in terms of individual NCAA points:

The far left column tracks each swimmer’s final rank within the class. The next column tracks their individual ranking in our top 20 recruits post. HM means “honorable mention.” UNR means “unranked” and INTL means “international”, as we don’t rank international swimmers in our top 20 post. “DIVE” refers to divers, also not ranked in our top 20 lists.

In the case of transfers, we’ve only awarded points to the school that the athlete earned while at that school – so a swimmer who transferred after two years will have their first two year’s worth of point totals count for their original school and their next two years for their second school.

#1 Stanford (-)

Final Rank 2017 Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
1 4 Brooke Forde Stanford 104 21 43 40 42
17 6 Lauren Pitzer Stanford 23 1 22 no invite 5
41 10 Grace Zhao Stanford 7 5 2 no invite no invite

#2 Texas A&M (+1)

Final Rank 2017 Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
8 16 Anna Belousova Texas A&M 45 27 18
15 9 Taylor Pike Texas A&M 25.5 5 6 14.5 1
16 DIVE Charlye Campbell Texas A&M 24 24
21 UNR Camryn Toney Texas A&M 19 19
24 INTL Jing Quah Texas A&M 17 11 6 9
51 UNR Haley Yelle Texas A&M 3 3

#3 Virginia (+9)

Final Rank 2017 Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
2 18 Paige Madden Virginia 98 0 38 60 44
34 UNR Caroline Gmelich Virginia 11 11 3
44 UNR Emma Seiberlich Virginia 6 6
47 UNR Abby Richter Virginia 5 5 14
50 UNR Kyla Valls Virginia 4 4

#4 Arkansas (+)

Final Rank 2017 Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
4 DIVE Brooke Schultz Arkansas 82 29 32 21
47 UNR Peyton Palsha Arkansas 5 5
62 DIVE Maha Amer Arkansas 1 1

#5 Texas (+3)

Final Rank 2017 Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
3 UNR Evie Pfeifer Texas 87.5 23.5 16 48 1

#6 Arizona (+)

Final Rank 2017 Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
5 DIVE Delaney Schnell Arizona 76.5 13 31.5 32

#7 Michigan (-5)

Final Rank 2017 Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
6 2 Sierra Schmidt Michigan 57 9 17 31 21
41 DIVE Christy Cutshaw Michigan 7 7
64 UNR Daria Pyshnenko Michigan 0 8.5

#8 Cal (-3)

Final Rank 2017 Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
7 INTL Robin Neumann Cal 51 16 14 21 4
32 INTL Sarah Darcel Cal 12 12

#9 NC State (+1)

Final Rank 2017 Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
13 UNR Kate Moore NC State 29 2 27 15
25 UNR Julia Poole NC State 16 3 13 5
34 INTL Tamila Holub NC State 11 11 0
50 UNR Olivia Calegan NC State 4 4 7

#10 Georgia (-1)

Final Rank 2017 Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
9 1 Courtney Harnish Georgia 44 7 15 22 38
41 INTL Olivia Anderson Georgia 7 7 2
53 UNR Danielle Dellatorre Georgia 3 3 23

#11 Ohio State (+)

Final Rank 2017 Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
14 UNR Kristen Romano Ohio State 27 7 0 20
25 UNR Katie Trace Ohio State 16 3 13
56 DIVE Genevieve Angerame Ohio State 2 2
58 UNR Taylor Petrak Ohio State 1.5 1.5
61 INTL Freya Rayner Ohio State 0 11

#12 Northwestern (+)

Final Rank 2017 Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
23 UNR Maddie Smith Northwestern 18 18
28 INTL Calypso Sheridan Northwestern 15 15 44
34 UNR Sophie Angus Northwestern 11 11 6

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Tigerswim22
5 months ago

Only one school had four seniors score individually at the 2021 NCAA Championships and that school was Texas A&M. They seem to do a great job with whoever they have. Hats off to the Aggie coaching staff.

Four schools had three seniors score individually this past March – Virginia, NC State, Georgia, and Ohio State.

Good to see seniors still competing and scoring individually, as well as helping relays put valuable points on the board and/or contributing to their team in other ways (leadership, spirit, morale, etc).

Tigerswim22
5 months ago

I probably should have noted that if Anna Belousova had competed at the 2021 NCAAs, she would no doubt have been Texas A&M’s highest point contributor and also their 5th senior on the “Who from 2017 tallied points?” roster. I’m not sure if any other schools had key athletes missing in March, but Belousova’s absence hurt [email protected] big time.

I thought this was an interesting research piece. Every swimmer/diver and every team has their own story, but it’s fascinating to see who’s still around making a difference four years or so after completing their high school career and heading off to college.

BearlyBreathing
5 months ago

What happened to Sarah Darcel?

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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