NCAA recruiting churns on, and so do our yearly recruit rankings. We’ve already ranked out the top recruits in the current high school sophomore and junior classes, but now it’s time to revisit our recruiting ranks of the graduating seniors.
As recruiting classes get closer to actual NCAA competition, we start to weigh certain factors more heavily: NCAA scoring times become more important, and we tend to value one or two standout events a bit more heavily (compared to a wide range of just decent events) than we would for a high school sophomore who has more time to develop across the board. Having already ranked this class about a year ago, we also get a clearer picture of momentum and trajectory: which recruits are continuing to drop time through their senior seasons, and which have stagnated.
You can look back on our original ranks for this class below, but do remember that those ranks are merely a snapshot in time – we didn’t have a working crystal ball then, nor do we now:
- Really strong class at the top
- Continues to be an elite IM group
- Sprint free depth has surged
- Strong backstroke depth
- Somewhat thin in fly and breast, though with elite talents at the top
- Thinner distance class
We’re in the midst of a real recruiting renaissance on the women’s side: the last four recruiting classes into the NCAA have been historically good, to the point where we’re almost becoming numb to how fast these recruits are.
And that’s not just a product of swimming continuing to get faster. These last few classes have been truly special, with 4 of the 8 swimmers on Team USA’s women’s medley relay at the 2021 Olympics coming from the classes of 2020 (Regan Smith), 2021 (Torri Huske) and 2022 (Claire Curzan and Lydia Jacoby).
This class of 2022 is loaded at the top. The top 5 in this class would stack up favorably against almost any class we’ve ever ranked, perhaps with the exception of the standout 2020 class.
Since ranking this group as sophomores, we’ve noted how good the class is as a whole in the IMs. But by these senior re-ranks, the other strokes have caught up the IMs a bit. Sprint freestyle has really come along, with a huge group of 22/49 types behind Curzan’s elite top-end speed.
Overall, the fly and breast classes are a little thinner, though they’re buoyed by all-time talents at the top in both strokes. Backstroke has become a bit of a standout for this class, with a lot of depth and some big names in the top 20.
If there’s a weakness with this class, it’s probably the distance free group as a whole, but even they can hold their own with almost any class we’ve ranked in recent memory.
**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.
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 states, when they’ll come to the states and with what graduating class they should be ranked. Projecting international recruits often becomes more 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 studs. 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 are a the trump card, but any big improvements in quality can make a difference as well. For example, a swimmer who only took up year-round swimming as a junior in high school going the same time as a swimmer whose been swimming year-round since they were 8 will probably get the edge in our rankings. Think Breeja Larson.
- Short Course over Long Course – we recognize that some programs, many programs, put their focus with their high school aged swimmers on long course, especially depending on when the high school championships may fall. That said, college swimming is short course, so a swimmer who is great in short course but struggles in long course will have the advantage over the reverse.
- 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.
With that out of the way, let’s get to our rankings.
Disclaimer: there are a lot of high school seniors 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 2022
*We’re noting where athletes have publicly verbally committed. While most of these athletes have signed NLIs with their schools, we can’t always verify who has physically signed on the dotted line and who hasn’t – for that reason, the verbiage below is still “verbally committed,” as it was in our junior ranks last year.
1. Claire Curzan – TAC Titans – Cardinal Gibbons High School – Cary, NC **Verbally committed to Stanford**
Previous Rank: #1 junior / #1 sophomore
- 100 fly: 49.24 (best in class)
- 200 fly: 1:50.85 (best in class)
- 100 back: 49.52 (best in class)
- 200 back: 1:49.35 (best in class)
- 50 free: 21.50 (best in class)
- 100 free: 47.23 (best in class)
- 200 free: 1:42.43 (best in class)
- 200 IM: 1:58.87
- 400 IM: 4:11.98
Curzan has been the clear-cut #1 recruit in all three rounds of our rankings. She just keeps getting better, taking three seconds off her 200 free since our junior ranks, breaking 50-seconds in the 100 back, and cutting another three seconds in the 200 fly. She should be an incredible relay weapon who can throw down elite-level splits on either the butterfly or backstroke legs of the medleys while fitting into any of the three free relays. The only real question is how much she specializes in college. Does Curzan double down on butterfly, or continue to split time with the backstroke and freestyles? As good as the past three recruiting classes has been, there’s no easy option among those events. But as good as Curzan is, she doesn’t really need to worry about chasing “easier” events.
2. Charlotte Hook – TAC Titans – Cary Academy – Raleigh, NC **Verbally committed to Stanford**
Previous Rank: #2 junior / #2 sophomore
- 200 IM: 1:54.79 (best in class)
- 400 IM: 4:06.43
- 200 fly: 1:52.72
- 100 fly: 52.20
- 500 free: 4:41.83
- 200 free: 1:45.38
- 100 free: 49.98
- 50 free: 22.81
- 1000 free: 9:42.51
- 1650 free: 16:27.38
- 100 back: 52.85
- 200 back: 1:55.28
- 100 breast: 1:01.59
- 200 breast: 2:13.91
Hook remains our #2 recruit, giving the TAC Titans a 1-2 sweep across all three years of rankings. Hook is incredibly versatile, with notable times above in every single NCAA event. She seems to have found her niche as an IMer, where she’s the best in this class in both distances. (Those are also her most likely events to avoid Curzan, for what that’s worth). The only red flag is that Hook hasn’t dropped a whole lot of time in her best events since our junior ranks, but there’s just no way to argue against her unprecedented versatility.
3. Lydia Jacoby – Seward Tsunami Swim Club – Seward High School – Seward, AK **Verbally Committed to Texas**
Previous Rank: #8 junior / unranked sophomore
- 100 breast: 58.87 (best in class)
- 200 breast: 2:08.61
The breakout Olympic champion of 2021, Jacoby’s history in these ranks is a compelling story. Unranked as a sophomore, Jacoby was just 1:00.4 in the 100 breast and 2:14 in the 200 breast. She rose to 8th in last year’s rankings and has now landed at #3 overall in this class. Jacoby is a game-changer in the breaststrokes, and her short course times don’t even tell half of the story. Jacoby has had much more success in the long course pool, going 1:04/2:25 in the 100/200-meter breaststrokes. (Say what you will about time conversions, but those convert to roughly 57 and 2:07 in short course yards). Jacoby isn’t very versatile and doesn’t have a great third event. But hey, we just saw Max McHugh turn basically that same two-event skillset into becoming the #3 overall scorer in the boys class of 2018, so #3 seems plenty fair for Jacoby.
4. Kayla Wilson – Tide Swimming – Norfolk Academy – Virginia Beach, VA **Verbally committed to Stanford**
Previous Rank: #15 junior / #17 sophomore
- 500 free: 4:42.10
- 200 free: 1:43.17
- 100 free: 48.38
- 50 free: 22.56
- 100 back: 53.58
- 200 back: 1:54.52
Wilson has had a meteoric rise as a senior, cracking our top four after ranking 15th and 17th the past two years. The key drops were from 1:44.9 to 1:43.1 in the 200 free, 4:47 to 4:42 in the 500 free, and 49.3 to 48.3 in the 50 free. She’s got incredible range that should allow her to contribute on a wide range of relays early in her NCAA career. Wilson’s 200 free time is the second-best in this class, and would have ranked #1 in each of the past four senior classes we’ve ranked, besting Torri Huske and Regan Smith, among others.
5. Justina Kozan – Mission Viejo Nadadores – Santa Margarita Catholic High School – Brea, CA **Verbally committed to USC**
Previous Rank: #3 junior / #3 sophomore
- 400 IM: 4:05.67 (best in class)
- 200 IM: 1:56.31
- 200 fly: 1:54.28
- 100 fly: 52.42
- 100 back: 53.35
- 200 free: 1:44.40
- 100 free: 49.05
- 50 free: 23.08
- 200 back: 1:55.74
Kozan is another extraordinarily versatile athlete who probably projects as an IMer at the college level, like #2 Hook. Kozan is slightly better than Hook in the 400 IM, but a ways behind in the 200 IM and 200 fly, as the two roughly project to swim the same three events in the NCAA lineup. Like Hook, Kozan hasn’t seen huge time drops as a senior, but did cut about a half-second in her 200 free and 200 fly.
6. Kennedy Noble – YMCA Westside Silver Fins – Millennium High School – Avondale, AZ **Verbally committed to NC State**
Previous Rank: #6 junior / #9 sophomore
- 100 back: 51.51
- 200 back: 1:51.91
- 200 IM: 1:56.60
- 400 IM: 4:13.74
- 100 fly: 53.00
- 200 fly: 1:55.33
- 200 free: 1:48.36
- 100 free: 49.81
It wasn’t that long ago that 51-second backstrokers were leading their recruiting classes, before the absurd backstroke classes of the past few years. Noble is an awesome high school swimmer who probably doesn’t get the buzz she deserves heading into a brutally loaded NCAA backstroke field. Noble didn’t drop much in short course backstroke as a senior, but did cut three seconds in her long course 200 back and had nice drops in the short course 200 IM and 200 fly to give her two very solid options for a third NCAA event.
7. Blair Stoneburg – Treasure Coast Aquatics – Jensen Beach High School – Jensen Beach, FL **Verbally committed to Wisconsin**
Previous Rank: #4 junior / #16 sophomore
- 500 free: 4:38.83 (best in class)
- 1000 free: 9:34.74 (best in class)
- 1650 free: 16:14.60
- 200 free: 1:44.63
- 100 free: 49.22
- 50 free: 22.85
- 100 fly: 53.78
Stoneberg is the best distance swimmer in the class, even if she’s not necessarily the best miler. That 4:38 in the 500 free carries a lot of weight – that time puts her among the better seniors we’ve ranked over the past five years. She rocketed up our recruiting board as a junior after some massive time drops, but that improvement curve has leveled out some over her senior year. Dropping her mile down under 16 minutes seems totally possible given her great 500 free and 1000 free times, and that would go a long ways in securing her value as an NCAA scorer.
8. Carly Novelline – NASA Wildcat Aquatics – New Trier High School – Winnetka, IL **Verbally committed to Virginia**
Previous Rank: #12 junior / #13 sophomore
- 100 back: 51.61
- 200 back: 1:53.17
- 100 fly: 52.58
- 200 free: 1:45.14
- 100 free: 48.16
- 50 free: 22.26
Novelline is a tailor-made NCAA swimmer: a strong sprinter across three different strokes. As we noted above, 51-second backstrokers are still very rare out of high school, even as some generational backstroke talents have broken our ability to put backstroke times into context. Being on the cusp of 21/47 sprint freestyle speed gives Novelline a massive relay scoring ceiling. Unlike many of our top 10 swimmers, Novelline did have some massive time drops as a senior, including from 1:56 to 1:53 in the 200 back and 53.0 to 51.6 in the 100 back.
9. Zoe Dixon – Nova of Virginia – Mills E. Godwin High School – Richmond, VA **Verbally committed to Florida**
Previous Rank: #9 junior / #5 sophomore
- 400 IM: 4:06.43
- 200 IM: 1:56.29
- 100 back: 52.87
- 200 back: 1:53.82
- 200 free: 1:47.54
- 200 breast: 2:12.55
- 100 fly: 53.83
- 200 fly: 1:56.21
Yet another great IMer in a strong IM class. Dixon isn’t far from being the best 400 IMer in the class, and she’s also a very strong 200 IMer. Dixon doesn’t necessarily have a clear third event yet – in the NCAA lineup, the 200 back, 200 breast or 200 fly make the most sense along with the two IM races, but Dixon herself might project best into the 200 free or 100 back. Her 200s seem to be dropping the most time right now, including a drop of almost two seconds in the 200 free as a senior.
10. Lucy Bell – Fort Collins Area Swim Team – Fossil Ridge High School – Fort Collins, CO **Verbally committed to Stanford**
Previous Rank: #7 junior / #7 sophomore
- 200 fly: 1:54.90
- 100 fly: 51.83
- 200 IM: 1:56.41
- 400 IM: 4:07.32
- 50 free: 22.99
- 100 free: 49.09
- 100 breast: 1:00.79
Bell has transformed from a flyer who swims IM into a true IMer who can also fly. Since last year’s ranks, she’s dropped five full seconds in the 400 IM to close in on the best in the class there. She’s also cut more than a second in the 200 IM and remains one of the better 100/200 flyers in the class. It’ll be worth watching what events she focuses on at the college level – the 100 fly and 400 IM would appear to be the key conflict, so it depends how much Bell can continue to drop in that 400 IM.
11. Kristina Paegle – Indiana Swim Club – Bloomington South High School – Bloomington, IN **Verbally committed to Indiana**
Previous Rank: #18 junior / unranked sophomore
- 50 free: 22.38
- 100 free: 48.00
- 200 free: 1:45.02
Paegle really only has three key events, but if you’re swimming in the NCAA, they’re the three you want. She’s got really nice balance between the three relay-distance freestyles, sitting on the cusp of 21/47/1:44 with times that have continued to drop. Paegle has cut almost a second in both the 100 and 200 frees since our junior ranks, and she’s made massive strides since she was an unranked 23.2/49.5/1:48.2 freestyler as a sophomore.
12. Hayden Miller – Cypress Fairbanks – Cypress Creek High School – Houston, TX **Verbally committed to Florida**
Previous Rank: #14 junior / #12 sophomore
- 1650 free: 16:02.22 (best in class)
- 1000 free: 9:40.19
- 500 free: 4:40.66
- 200 free: 1:46.35
Miller is the best miler in the class, close to a sub-16:00. She’s also got really good 500 free speed and pretty solid range down to the 200, which is really the key for a distance swimmer to unlock more NCAA scoring potential. Miller has made more drops in long course over her senior year than short course, but did take about two seconds off her 500 free.
13. Claire Tuggle – Santa Maria Swim Club – Clovis North High School – Mariposa, CA **Verbally committed to Virginia**
Previous Rank: #5 junior / #4 sophomore
- 200 free: 1:44.96
- 500 free: 4:41.36
- 400 IM: 4:16.91
- 100 free: 49.43
The ceiling still seems really high for Tuggle, the former age group standout who remains one of the better 200/500 freestylers in this class. But these four times are the exact same ones that ranked her #4 as a sophomore – her time progressions have stalled somewhat. Often, the transition to the college level can be a great catalyst for a swimmer hitting a plateau, shaking things up and spurring new time drops. The good news for Tuggle is that while she hasn’t been dropping time, she hasn’t regressed at all, either – her season-bests as both a junior and senior have stayed very close to her lifetime-bests, and she remains one of the better long course swimmers in this class.
14. Emma Weber – University of Denver Hilltoppers – Fairview High School – Boulder, CO **Verbally committed to Virginia**
Previous Rank: #13 junior / #8 sophomore
- 100 breast: 59.03
- 200 breast: 2:09.04
Another two-event breaststroker, Weber has plenty of speed in the 100/200 breaststrokes to score big in the NCAA format. For the moment, she’s not that far behind the standout Jacoby in the 100 breast or 200 breast, though Jacoby obviously has the long course trump card. Weber has dropped more than a full second in the 200 breast across her senior year.
15. Rye Ulett – Dynamo Swim Club – Atlanta, GA **Verbally committed to Louisville**
Previous Rank: #10 junior / #6 sophomore
- 200 back: 1:51.84
- 100 back: 52.26
- 200 IM: 1:56.88
- 400 IM: 4:09.27
- 200 free: 1:47.30
- 500 free: 4:47.92
Ulett shows something really impressive when you look across her history in these recruit ranks. The backstrokes have always been her calling card, but since our sophomore ranks, her time progressions have stalled out a little. But while the time drops have been hard to come by in her primary events, Ulett has broadened her lineup by developing as an IMer. After dropping five seconds in the 400 IM and about two in the 200 IM, she might actually project better as a collegiate IMer than a backstroker.
16. Kaelyn Gridley– NASA Wildcat Aquatics – New Trier High School – Winnetka, IL **Verbally committed to Duke**
Previous Rank: unranked junior / unranked sophomore
- 200 breast: 2:08.30 (best in class)
- 100 breast: 59.66
Gridley rockets into our ranks after dropping nearly five seconds in the 200 breast and taking over the top time in the class in that race. She cut almost a second in the 100 breast, too, and should be a key contributor to medley relays at the college level. There’s not much of a third event to speak of, though Gridley has been 23.1 in the 50 free and could develop into a solid sprinter there.
17. Ella Welch – Cardinal Aquatics – Assumption High School – Louisville, KY **Verbally committed to Louisville**
Previous Rank: #20 junior / unranked sophomore
- 50 free: 22.35
- 100 free: 48.53
- 200 free: 1:46.04
- 100 breast: 1:00.79
- 100 fly: 53.58
Welch continues to develop her 200 free to go along with strong 50/100 free speed – she dropped 1.7 seconds in the 200 over her senior year. That type of range across the relay-distance freestyles is huge for NCAA value. Welch is also a very good long course swimmer with times of 25.6 and 55.2 in long course meters.
18. Katherine Helms – Mason Makos Swim Team – South County High School – Fairfax Station, VA **Verbally committed to NC State**
Previous Rank: #17 junior / #19 sophomore
- 50 free: 22.39
- 100 free: 48.84
- 200 free: 1:46.18
- 500 free: 4:48.46
- 400 IM: 4:09.80
Good sprint freestylers will always carry NCAA value, and Helms fits perfectly into the relay-centric college swimming landscape. She’s had decent drops in the 50 free and 100 free as a senior, but most impressive (and interesting) is a 3.4-second drop to 4:09.8 in the 400 IM. That’s not an event you usually see added to a sprint freestyler’s program. It suggests some untapped versatility, and should bode really well for Helms’ development in the 200/500 frees moving forward.
19. Devon Kitchel – Carmel Swim Club – Zionsville Community High School – Zionsville, IN **Verbally committed to Michigan**
Previous Rank: #18 junior / unranked sophomore
- 200 IM: 1:56.39
- 100 fly: 52.85
- 100 breast: 1:00.53
- 50 free: 22.97
- 100 free: 49.72
- 400 IM: 4:18.36
Kitchel has a really interesting portfolio of events stretching across the IMs, butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle. That kind of versatility makes her an intriguing 200 IM prospect, and she’s coming off a 1.3-second drop there as a senior. Kitchel dropped time in all three of her top events this year, and is one to watch as a freshman in the NCAA.
20. Martina Peroni – New Albany Aquatic Club – Olentangy High School – Powell, OH **Verbally committed to Duke**
Previous Rank: unranked junior / unranked sophomore
- 200 IM: 1:57.77
- 100 fly: 52.96
- 200 fly: 1:55.19
- 200 free: 1:47.91
- 400 IM: 4:14.48
Peroni is a versatile type who might project as a 200-specialist, combining the IM, butterfly and freestyle races. On the other hand, she’s dropped 1.7 seconds in the 200 fly over her senior season, and also cut a full second in the 100 fly, so keep an eye on her event focuses as a freshman in the NCAA.
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.
Katie Crom – Mission Viejo Nadadores – Tesoro High School – Rancho Santa Margarita, CA **Verbally committed to Michigan**
Previous Rank: unranked junior / #14 sophomore
- 200 fly: 1:56.00
- 100 fly: 52.82
- 500 free: 4:44.39
- 200 free: 1:47.57
- 100 free: 48.64
Crom very well could have made the back end of our list. She’s a strong butterflyer with solid freestyle range down to the 100, and carries some good relay potential.
Lucy Malys – OLY Swimming – Clarkston High School – Clarkston, MI **Verbally committed to Ohio State**
Previous Rank: #11 junior / unranked sophomore
- 1650 free: 16:09.22
- 1000 free: 9:39.58
- 500 free: 4:42.55
- 400 IM: 4:13.60
Malys isn’t far off of being the best miler in the class, and 4:42 is seriously good out of high school in the 500 free. She hasn’t cut much time as a senior, but still carries big potential as an NCAA distance swimmer.
Aubree Brouwer – Springfield Aquatics – Joplin, MO **Verbally committed to NC State**
Previous Rank: unranked junior / unranked sophomore
- 100 breast: 59.37
- 200 breast: 2:10.58
- 100 fly: 53.50
Brouwer is a breaststroke speedster at this point, with developmental potential in the 200 breast. She dropped 1.3 seconds as a senior in the 100 breast, so keep an eye on her early in her freshman year of college.
Renee Gillilan – Fort Collins Area Swim Team – Fossil Ridge High School – Fort Collins, CO **Verbally committed to Notre Dame**
Previous Rank: unranked junior / #18 sophomore
- 100 fly: 52.95
- 200 fly: 1:56.71
- 100 back: 53.76
Another very solid butterflyer who can cross over well into backstroke. Gillilan is on the cusp of cracking a minute in the long course 100 fly as well.
Zoe Skirboll – Racer X Aquatics – Fox Chapel Area High School – Pittsburgh, PA **Verbally Committed to Virginia**
Previous Rank: unranked junior / #15 sophomore
- 50 free: 22.77
- 100 free: 49.65
- 200 free: 1:46.50
- 100 breast: 1:00.19
- 200 breast: 2:11.12
- 200 IM: 1:58.75
Skirboll is a hyper-versatile swimmer, and it’s still not clear what her best NCAA events are. Perhaps sprint breaststroke and sprint freestyle are the ticket, though Skirboll has dropped a second and a half in the 200 breast over her senior year.
BEST OF THE REST
New this year: this isn’t an exhaustive list, but we can rattle off a few of the athletes we studied who wound up just outside the top 20 in each event discipline. For the purposes of space, we won’t include every top event for these athletes, but just a few of their standouts. Each of these athletes is still an extremely high-level recruit:
- Sprint free:
- Distance free:
Feeling nostalgic? Here’s a look back at our recruiting class rankings from the past, plus our retrospective looks at classes after 4 years in the NCAA: