Re-Ranking the Best NCAA Men’s Swimmers in Division I From 1-25

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Dean Farris was just one of two men's Division I swimmers to break an NCAA Record this season; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Who were the best men’s swimmers in the NCAA in the 2018-19 season? Swimming World already released its list for the best women’s swimmers for the season with Wisconsin junior Beata Nelson leading the way after two NCAA records. Who was the best swimmer on the men’s side this year?

At the beginning of the season, Swimming World released its pre-season rankings list for the best men’s swimmers in Division I, with Texas senior Townley Haas and Indiana senior Ian Finnerty leading the way after they set all-time records in 2018.

The 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships only saw three total NCAA records fall in the 200 free, 500 free and 800 free relay. It wasn’t necessarily a “slow” meet but it was definitely lacking some firepower compared to year’s past.

In the pre-season, the senior class took up 12 of the top 15 spots. After the season, the seniors still took up 8 of the 15 top spots, but it was a junior who took the number one spot, much like the women’s list.

25. Brendan Casey, Senior, Virginia

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 400 IM, 3:38.43 (NCAA); 1650, 14:37.50 (ACC)

Pre-season rank: NR

Casey had a pair of All-American finishes in the 400 IM and 1650, as well as a 13th place finish in the 500. It was the first time the senior had ever scored at NCAAs in his career, having not made the meet as a freshman or sophomore. He also won the ACC title in the 400 IM and 1650 for the first conference crowns of his career.

24. Trenton Julian, Sophomore, Cal

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 500, 4:11.30 (NCAA); 400 IM, 3:39.83 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 47

Julian was a huge role player for the Bears this year as he was the B-Final champ in the 500 and was fifth in the 400 IM. He also was sixth in the 200 fly as he helped Cal win its first national title since 2014.

23. Nick Albiero, Sophomore, Louisville

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 100 back, 44.88 (ACC); 200 fly, 1:40.08 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 32

Albiero had a stellar sophomore season for the Cardinals as he helped Louisville achieve its first ever top five finish this year in Austin. Louisville had never been higher than eighth, and Albiero’s success is a big reason why the Cardinals keep improving. He was the B-Final champ in the 100 fly and was fourth in the 200 fly along with sixth in the 100 back.

22. Zheng Quah, Junior, Cal

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 100 fly, 45.06 (NCAA); 200 fly, 1:39.29 (Georgia Invite)

Pre-season rank: 20

Zheng only managed to score in two events this season and was slightly off his Georgia Invite time in the 200 fly where he placed third overall. Zheng also finished sixth in the 100 fly as he was another member of Cal’s incredibly deep National Championship team.

21. Ricardo Vargas, Sophomore, Michigan

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 500, 4:11.45 (NCAA); 1650, 14:31.76 (B1G)

Pre-season rank: 24

Another year, another All-American distance swimmer from Michigan. Sophomore Vargas was fourth in the 500 but also faded badly in the mile to 22nd overall. Vargas is still young, and will have two more years to grow and improve under legendary Michigan coach Josh White.

20. Daniel Carr, Sophomore, Cal

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 100 back, 44.86 (NCAA); 200 back, 1:38.56 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: NR

Carr was the talk of the meet after he was granted a re-swim in the 100 back preliminaries for turning on a starter wedge in his 100 back heat. He was able to qualify for the A-Final after one of the most memorable coach celebrations this decade. Carr ended up going slower in the 100 back final but also reached the A-Final with a fifth place swim in the 200 back, and swam on both of Cal’s runner-up medley relays. He was also a B-finalist in the 200 IM.

19. Robert Howard, Senior, Alabama

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 50, 18.74 (SEC); 100 free, 41.57 (SEC)

Pre-season rank: 30

Howard swam an 18.22 on the end of Alabama’s national championship winning 200 medley relay team, that gave the Tide’s second national title in that event in four years. Howard went slower in both of his individual events after SECs but still managed third in the 50 and fifth in the 100 free. It was the first time he had scored in both A-Finals in his career. He will be making his Team USA debut at World University Games this summer in the 4×100 free relay.

18. Reece Whitley, Freshman, Cal

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Photo Courtesy: Dan D’Addona

2019 Times: 100 breast, 51.11 (NCAA); 200 breast, 1:50.62 (Pac-12)

Pre-season rank: 17

The much anticipated collegiate debut for Whitley finally happened this year as he was an All-American in both of the breaststroke events, finishing fourth in the 100 and fifth in the 200. The two-time reigning Swimming World high school swimmer of the year also swam on both of Cal’s runner-up medley relays and will certainly have a bright future with the Cal Golden Bears.

17. Tate Jackson, Senior, Texas

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Photo Courtesy: Texas Athletics

2019 Times: 50, 18.79 (Texas Invite); 100 free, 41.06 (Texas Invite)

Pre-season rank: 13

Jackson surprisingly underperformed at NCAAs in his home pool as a senior after he put up stellar times at the Texas Invite in the 50 and 100. Jackson was seventh in the 50 and did not even score in the 100 as he was a lot of people’s picks to win the latter on the final day. He did however split a 40.98 on the winning 400 free relay to close out the meet for Texas. He will be making his Team USA debut at the World University Games this summer in the 100 free.

16. Bowen Becker, Senior, Minnesota

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 50 free, 18.84 (NCAA); 100 free, 40.83 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 14

Becker nearly won the 100 free after giving Dean Farris everything he could handle for 40 seconds. He ended up second in the 100 free and moved up to fourth all-time in the event. He also was fourth in the 50 but it was the first time he was able to go best times at NCAAs after Big Tens.

15. Ryan Hoffer, Sophomore, Cal

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 50 free, 18.58 (NCAA); 100 fly, 45.04 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 19

Hoffer came out of high school as one of the most hyped prep swimmers ever after he was an 18.7 and 41.2 at Junior Nationals. He won his first individual NCAA title by swimming an 18.5 in the 50 this year and proved he could be the real deal moving forward. Hoffer faded a little bit the rest of the meet when he placed seventh in the 100 fly and sixth in the 100 free, but did swim on the lone winning relay for the Golden Bears. He swam the second leg for Cal’s 200 free relay team that won the NCAA title.

14. Max McHugh, Freshman, Minnesota

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 100 breast, 50.30 (NCAA); 200 breast, 1:49.41 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 46

Perhaps the unofficial winner of “freshman of the year,” McHugh proved his 100 breast national public school record he set last year was no fluke as the Golden Gopher rookie was third in the 100 breast and second in the 200. McHugh had a huge freshman year as he moved up to fifth all-time in the 100 breast and sixth all-time in the 200.

13. Felix Auböck, Junior, Michigan

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 500 free, 4:09.37 (B1G); 1650, 14:23.09 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 15

Auböck had a terrible start to his NCAA meet by placing 35th in the 500 with a 4:18, some nine seconds off his time at Big Tens. It didn’t get much better the next day when he was 35th in the 200. But he was able to win the 1650 on the final day after coming in second the previous two seasons in the event. He rattled the NCAA record in the 1650 as he was able to come back after a nightmare of a start to the meet.

12. Abrahm DeVine, Senior, Stanford

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 200 IM, 1:40.77 (NCAA); 400 IM, 3:36.41 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 5

DeVine successfully defended his 400 IM title as a senior after bursting on to the scene as a junior in 2018. It was a difficult year for a Stanford team that lost two NCAA scorers during the season in junior Grant Shoults and freshman Jack LeVant. All three of those guys are on the roster for the World Championships this summer as DeVine will make his second trip for Team USA in the 200 IM, an event he placed fifth in at NCAAs this year.

11. Andreas Vazaios, Senior, NC State

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 200 IM, 1:39.35 (NCAA); 200 fly, 1:38.57 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 3

Vazaios was also able to successfully defend his NCAA title he won in 2018, winning the 200 fly for the second straight year to close out his three-year career for NC State. He was also second in the 200 IM and was a part of the runner-up 800 free relay team for the Wolfpack. He helped NC State secure a top four finish for the fourth straight season.

10. Caio Pumputis, Sophomore, Georgia Tech

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 200 IM, 1:41.04 (NCAA); 100 breast, 51.38 (NCAA); 200 breast, 1:50.79 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: NR

Perhaps the unofficial winner of the “most improved swimmer” of the year award goes to the sophomore from Georgia Tech. Pumputis took down Vazaios in the 200 IM at ACCs and followed that up with three A-Finals a month later at NCAAs. It was the first time he had ever scored at NCAAs, placing only as high as 34th as a freshman in 2018.

9. Zach Apple, Senior, Indiana

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 50, 18.94 (NCAA); 200 free, 1:30.34 (NCAA); 100 free, 41.45 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 6

Apple’s first year in Bloomington was a solid one for the National Team member as he was second in the 200 free, third in the 100 free and fifth in the 50 after transferring from Auburn last season. He also swam on Indiana’s victorious 400 medley relay team that won for the second straight season. Apple will be making his second trip to World Championships this summer where he will be on the 4×100 free relay team in Gwangju.

8. Sean Grieshop, Sophomore, Cal

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 500 free, 4:10.29 (NCAA); 400 IM, 3:37.03 (NCAA); 1650, 14:35.82 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 34

Grieshop improved big-time in his sophomore season as he was able to reach two A-Finals in the 400 IM and 500 and was fourth in the 1650 from the earlier heats. Grieshop was second in both the 400 IM and 500 after not reaching a single A-Final in 2018. He will continue his momentum to the World University Games this summer where he will swim the 400 IM in his second trip to the meet.

7. Coleman Stewart, Junior, NC State

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 100 fly, 44.46 (NCAA); 100 back, 43.98 (NCAA); 200 back, 1:38.81 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 11

Stewart is the highest swimmer on this list to not win an individual event at NCAAs this year. He had a very impressive double on Friday by placing second in both the 100 fly and 100 back, missing out on a national title by a combined 0.41 seconds. Stewart did move up to third all-time in the 100 back and seventh all-time in the 100 fly, though. He also was fourth in the 200 back as he will not move forward to the World University Games for Team USA where he will swim the 50 and 100 fly.

6. Ian Finnerty, Senior, Indiana

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 200 IM, 1:41.74 (B1G); 100 breast, 49.85 (NCAA); 200 breast, 1:49.90 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 2

Finnerty successfully defended his 100 breast title he won in 2018 with another 49 this year. He took it out hard in the 200 breast final but fell to third in an event he also won in 2018. Finnerty was also seventh in the 200 IM and swam breaststroke on Indiana’s 400 medley relay team that nearly broke the NCAA Record.

5. John Shebat, Senior, Texas

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 200 IM, 1:39.63 (NCAA); 100 back, 44.71 (NCAA); 200 back, 1:36.42 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 15

After finishing in second in both backstrokes the last two years, Shebat finally broke through to win his first individual title as a senior in his home pool in the 200 back. He barely held off Longhorn teammate Austin Katz in the process as those two moved to second and third all-time in the event. Shebat also had his hands in a lot of different events for Texas, swimming butterfly on the medley relays and even placing third in the 200 IM, as well as his first 100 free in college on the victorious 400 free relay.

4. Vini Lanza, Senior, Indiana

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 200 IM, 1:40.23 (NCAA); 100 fly, 44.37 (NCAA); 200 fly, 1:39.28 (B1G)

Pre-season rank: 4

Lanza made history for Indiana in 2019 when he won the 100 fly, becoming the first Hoosier since Mark Spitz to win that event at NCAAs. Lanza moved up to sixth all-time with his swim there and also was fourth in the 200 IM and second in the 200 fly. He was also a part of three straight Big Ten title teams at Indiana, the first time the Hoosiers had done that since 1983-85.

3. Townley Haas, Senior, Texas

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 500, 4:08.19 (NCAA); 200 free, 1:31.80 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 1

Haas was on fire the first two days of the 2019 NCAAs in his home pool at Austin. He anchored the winning 800 free relay for Texas and then had maybe the fastest 250 the sport has ever seen to open the 500. Haas was still able to set the NCAA record in the 500 with a 4:08.19 but that blistering pace seemed to affect him the rest of the meet. He was fourth in the 200 free, an event he had won his first three years of college, and was some two seconds off his record setting time last year. Haas went on to win the B-Final in the 100 free on the last day and also anchored the 400 free relay to give Texas its second relay win of the meet.

2. Andrew Seliskar, Senior, Cal

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 200 IM, 1:38.14 (NCAA); 200 free, 1:30.14 (NCAA); 200 breast, 1:48.70 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 7

It is hard to believe Seliskar won his first individual title in 2019. After being so close for so many years, Seliskar finally broke through and won all three of his events. He swam the second fastest time ever in the 200 IM, moved up to third all-time in the 200 breast, and was fourth all-time in the 200 free. It was a dream season for the senior in his final collegiate meet that ended in a national title for the Golden Bears. Seliskar was named swimmer of the meet by the CSCAA and will now move on to professional swimmer, where he will be swimming for Team USA at the World Championships this summer in the 200 free.

1. Dean Farris, Junior, Harvard

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2019 Times: 200 free, 1:29.15 (NCAA); 100 back, 43.66 (NCAA); 100 free, 40.80 (NCAA)

Pre-season rank: 9

Farris became the first swimmer from Harvard to win a national title since David Berkoff won the 100 back in 1989. He started the meet with an insane 1:29.15 to lead off Harvard’s 800 free relay and followed that up with national titles in the 100 back and 100 free, as well as a sixth place in the 50. Farris also helped Harvard secure eighth place in the team standings, its highest finish since the team was 11th in 1998. He is one of just four returning swimmers in the top ten on this list, and he will shift his focus to the World University Games this summer where he will swim the 4×100 free relay for Team USA.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    PValedon

    How about doing the same for DII swimmers?