PHOENIX, Arizona, October 10. THE College Swimming Coaches Association of America is preparing to gather its members for the weekly coaches’ poll that ranks the top 25 women’s and men’s teams in the country. The poll is not designed to predict the winner of the NCAA championships, but merely as a way to show which teams are performing the best each week in head-to-head competition.
Swimming World is offering a preview of the college season, using the final CSCAA rankings from last season as a platform. Today, we’ll look at the top men’s teams in the country using the final CSCAA rankings from last season as a jumping-off point.
1. Texas Longhorns
Though Eddie Reese rarely puts a strong focus on resting swimmers for dual meets, the Longhorns did well to close out the season with a big win over Arizona in February, taking the sting out of losing to Auburn and Michigan earlier in the season. With then-senior Michael McBroom at the helm, Texas closed out the season with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA championships.
Texas started its season with some impressive times from freshman Jack Conger at the annual intrasqud meet on September 26, and will kick off their dual-meet season next Thursday with a home meet against North Carolina, as well as a tri-meet with Indiana and Michigan the next week.
2. California Golden Bears
Despite not having then-senior Tom Shields competing in the fall portion of the season, Cal swam well and had an undefeated season that carried into a Pac 12 title. The conference win was historic in that it was the first time in 31 years that Stanford had not been at the top. The Golden Bears lost Shields to graduation but gained Swimming World Magazine Male High School Swimmer of the Year Ryan Murphy. Murphy’s started his college career well, winning King of the Pool at the Cal Poly Pentathlon.
California’s first official dual meet of the season was a 149-104 rout of the University of the Pacific last weekend. The Indiana Hoosiers visit the Bay Area Friday with a dual against the Golden Bears.
3. Michigan Wolverines
Michigan’s road to the first NCAA team title since 1995 included an 8-0 undefeated season that included defeating Texas in Austin. Most of the team’s heavy scorers are back for more this season, including double national champion Connor Jaeger and multiple finalist Kyle Whitaker.
The team opened their season by beating Iowa 182-110 then participating in unorthodox events at the Michigan Water Carnival. Serious competition resumes this weekend with the Dennis Stark Relays at Notre Dame on Friday, followed by a traditional dual meet against Notre Dame and Auburn in South Bend, Ind., on Saturday.
4. Southern California Trojans
Like the Cal Bears, Southern Cal spent the first part of the season without its star. Vlad Morozov spent time in Europe racing at the European championships and the world championships, then returned to Los Angeles to prepare for what would be his final NCAA meet. Though a swimmer of Morozov’s stature will be tough to replace, the Trojans have a deep roster that could keep them at or near the top of the CSCAA rankings and possibly capture another fourth-place team trophy at the NCAAs.
The team had their intrasquad meet in early September, and won’t race again until November 8, when they travel to Tempe for a tri-meet against Arizona State and Arizona.
5. Florida Gators
The Gators had an incredible undefeated 2012-2013 season, including a win over Auburn that led to a team title at the SEC championships. With seniors Sebastien Rousseau and Marcin Cieslak, the team should be solid performers in the dual-meet season with much improvement on tap for the postseason.
The men were dominant at the All-Florida Invite, taking each swimming event and posting some promising early-season times. Up next is Minnesota on Saturday.
6. Auburn Tigers
The loss to Florida at the end of the season bumped Auburn down to sixth in the final rankings of the 2012-2013 season, and after their SEC winning streak ended in February, Auburn faltered slightly at the NCAAs despite a victory in 200 free relay.
Brazilian Marcelo Chierighini, a favorite to win the sprint freestyles at the NCAAs, will be a guiding force for the Tigers this season, starting with the Dennis Stark Relays Friday and a tri-meet against Notre Dame and Michigan Saturday.
7. Stanford Cardinal
The Stanford Cardinal had a tough dual-meet season, losing to Southern California and Cal in the final two meets of the season. Add to that the heartbreaking end to a 31-year team title streak at the conference championships. Stanford looks strong to rebound this season on the strength of NCAA champion David Nolan, 100 fly national high school record holder Connor Black and Olympic medalist diver Kristian Ipsen.
The Cardinal had an exciting start to their season last weekend with a non-scoring meet against UC-Santa Cruz, in which the events were decided by spinning a wheel just before the race started. The Indiana Hoosiers will face off against Stanford in Palo Alto on Saturday.
8. Indiana Hoosiers
Always a consistent top-10 team, Indiana looks to be just as strong this season with some heavyweights that could help the Hoosiers do better than the ninth-place rank from the 2013 NCAAs. Early season losses against Michigan and Texas didn’t deter Indiana, who posted an unfortunate loss to Evansville at the end of the season due to scheduling errors.
Cody Miller is a potential multiple NCAA finalist in breaststroke and IM, and will perform well for the Hoosiers. He and his teammates are headed west to the San Francisco Bay area to race California on Friday and Stanford on Saturday.
9. Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia’s team was set to get a big boost this season from Italy-born Andrea D’Arrigo, but he made a last-minute transfer to Florida. Virginia is making the transition to new head coach Augie Busch, and the team will need his expertise to tackle a tough schedule that includes Texas and Wisconsin.
The Cavaliers are preparing for the first dual meet of the season on October 25 against Navy … provided the U.S. government shutdown does not cancel or postpone the competition.
10. Arizona Wildcats
Putting a strong focus on the mid-season taper meet in December often hurts Arizona in dual-meet competition. Their only dual-meet win against a conference foe was Arizona State last season, and they also were beaten by Texas. This could be the same outcome in the coming season, with the Wildcats looking past dual meets toward the Texas Invite the first weekend of December.
The first dual meet of the season is a travel meet against Utah on October 19.
11. Georgia Bulldogs
The Georgia men have some work to do to catch up to their female counterparts, but they have a strong squad this year that includes world championship silver medalist Chase Kalisz, who did not compete for the Bulldogs until the second half of last season. Also on the roster and making big strides is world championship team member Nic Fink, who should be a big help in the breaststrokes.
The Bulldogs made short work of Kentucky in a special double-distance dual on September 25, and defeated Wisconsin last weekend in a two-day meet. Next on the schedule is Georgia Tech on Tuesday.
12. Tennessee Volunteers
The Tennessee men’s team continues to improve since the merging of the teams in 2012. Though they beat Georgia in a dual meet last season, they were trounced by Florida the following week. The Volunteers have a slate of potential national championship scorers, including Australian Luke Percy and Sam Rairden.
A victory over UNC-Wilmington on September 27 kicked off the season, and up next is South Carolina on October 18.
13. Ohio State Buckeyes
Despite a losing record in conference dual meets, Ohio State managed a win over Tennessee last season. The Buckeyes aren’t racing Tennessee this season, but will attempt to hold their own against conference rival Michigan near the end of the season.
The team faces Kentucky this Friday, followed by an intrasquad meet the following week.
14. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota did well in dual meets last season, losing only to Michigan. The start of the 2013-2014 season saw a big victory over Arizona State at home, but will be followed by a visit from the Florida Gators this Saturday.
15. Florida State Seminoles
Florida State had Mark Weber on the roster last year to help in the freestyle sprinting department. Senior Paul Murray, the Atlantic Coast Conference champion in the 100 free, will be the torchbearer for the team this season. The All-Florida Invite saw the Seminoles place second as expected behind Florida, and the meet will serve as a springboard to dual meet work Friday against West Florida and Saturday against Alabama.
16. North Carolina Tar Heels
Rich DeSelm’s squad has a deep squad of swimmers with the potential to break out in the same way Tom Luchsinger did earlier this year. Who will help the Tar Heels have another great season? The first test will be this weekend at the Virginia Tech Invite, followed by Texas next Thursday.
17. Texas A&M Aggies
The arrival of assistant coach Ryan Mallam from the junior college ranks will add some new perspective for Texas A&M as they enter their second year in the Southeastern Conference. The Aggies will look to put the 3-4 record from last season behind them in the dual meet against new Division I team Incarnate Word on October 17.
18. Harvard Crimson
Harvard was a perfect 9-0 in dual meets last season, and might not have too much trouble replicating that. New head coach Kevin Tyrrell will take his five years of experience as assistant coach into the first dual meet of the season against Dartmouth and Cornell on November 15.
19. Louisville Cardinals
Louisville moves into the American Athletic Conference this season, and should be the class of the field when those conference championships come around in February. Leading the pack will be 200 free NCAA champion Joao de Lucca, and potential scorer Caryle Blondell. First up for the team is Xavier on Friday.
20. Iowa Hawkeyes
Despite a losing record among Big Ten teams, Iowa finished last season 7-3 in dual meets, including a win against Northwestern. The team started the season with a defeat at the hands of Iowa on September 27, and will hold an intrasquad meet Friday. The next dual meet is Michigan State on October 18.
21. Virginia Tech Hokies
The team is hosting an invitational this weekend to start the season, with the men racing swimmers from North Carolina and Virginia Military Institute. The team was impressive last season, with a 9-2-1 record that featured losses from North Carolina and Virginia and a tie with North Carolina State.
22. North Carolina State Wolfpack
To stay in the top 25 this season, North Carolina State will need to be tougher against the heavyweight teams on their schedule, including Georgia and North Carolina. The team started the season with dominating performances to win the All-North Carolina Invite last weekend. The first dual meet of the season is Virginia Tech on October 19.
23. Princeton Tigers
Princeton had a great start to the 2012-2013 season, but faltered with losses to Harvard and Yale. The team can get higher on the rankings by defeating those teams this season, but Princeton won’t race them until late January. First up is the Princeton Open in mid-November.
24. Penn State Nittany Lions
Under the guidance of new head coach Tim Murphy and the emergence of sophomore Shane Ryan as a national title threat, Penn State could find itself higher on the CSCAA poll this season. The first dual meet is against West Virginia on October 18.
25. University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels
UNLV only lost to Arizona last season in dual meets and will face the Wildcats in their first dual of the season on October 25.
The following teams also received votes in the final CSCAA rankings last season: Missouri, South Carolina, Notre Dame, Wisconsin.