Last week, Swimming World dropped the women’s pre-season rankings for the upcoming NCAA swim season. Today, we are dropping the top 25 men’s individual pre-season rankings. Again, these are just an indication of the returning swimmers standings as of last season.
Last year’s graduating class was one of the strongest in recent memory as defending champions Clark Smith of Texas, Will Licon of Texas, Chase Kalisz of Georgia, Ryan Murphy of California and Jack Conger of Texas are done competing for their respective schools. These guys not only won individual titles, but also all set NCAA Records in the process.
This year’s senior class is strong as well as five seniors rank in the top ten going into this season, and many others are scattered throughout. Last year’s senior class was top heavy, but this year’s seniors are probably stronger in depth.
This list was calculated by the athlete’s best times from last season. It was a point system of the top eight times going into this year, so the athletes with three events ranked in the top eight are near the top. So, here we go, the men’s pre-season individual rankings for the 2017-2018 NCAA season.
Others receiving votes: 26. Anton Loncar, Senior, Denver; 27. Anton Ipsen, Senior, NC State; 28. Jacob Montague, Sophomore, Michigan; 29. Cameron Craig, Sophomore, Arizona State; 30. Ilya Evdokimov, Senior, Cornell; 31. Henry Campbell, Senior, North Carolina
25. Grant Shoults, Sophomore, Stanford
2017 Times: 500 Free, 4:10.23 (NCAA); 1650 Free, 14:35.82 (NCAA)
The national high school record holder in the 500 had a solid freshman season under Jeff Kostoff. Shoults will be looking to avoid a sophomore slump as he is a favorite to take over the reigns from Connor Jaeger as the premiere distance swimmer in America.
24. Abrahm DeVine, Junior, Stanford
2017 Times: 200 IM, 1:42.25 (NCAA); 400 IM, 3:37.73 (NCAA)
DeVine’s 200 IM this summer launched him onto this list as he has been flying under the radar since finaling in both IM’s at Trials in 2016. DeVine got on the World Championship team this past summer and won’t be stopping any time soon.
23. Carlos Claverie, Senior, Louisville
2017 Times: 100 Breast, 52.05 (ACC); 200 Breast, 1:52.81 (NCAA)
The breaststroke field is wide open headed into this season after the graduation of Will Licon. Claverie could be someone to pounce on the wide open field as he is building for his senior year in Louisville.
22. Ryan Hoffer, Freshman, California
Best Times: 50 Free, 18.71 (Speedo Juniors West); 100 Free, 41.23 (Speedo Juniors West)
The hype is real for the freshman Hoffer. He will lock horns with Caeleb Dressel in his senior season as the latter is looking to close out his illustrious career with three wins. Hoffer will be a serious player in the 50 and 100 free if he can adjust to Dave Durden’s training style.
21. Ian Finnerty, Junior, Indiana
2017 Times: 200 IM, 1:41.86 (B1G); 100 Breast, 51.38 (B1G)
Finnerty underperformed at NCAA’s last season as he failed to score in any of his events despite putting up swift times at Big Ten’s. Finnerty had a good summer as he won the US Open in the 100 breast with a 1:00.09. He could be dangerous moving forward for USA Swimming in that event.
20. Nils Wich-Glasen, Senior, South Carolina
2017 Times: 100 Breast, 51.58 (SEC); 200 Breast, 1:52.41 (SEC)
South Carolina is a rapidly improving team and Wich-Glasen is one of the reasons why. The Gamecocks have never had an individual champion at the NCAA’s and Wich-Glasen is certainly capable of ending that streak.
19. Blake Pieroni, Senior, Indiana
2017 Times: 200 Free, 1:30.87 (NCAA); 100 Free, 41.44 (B1G)
Pieroni got his first taste of individual international experience when he swam in Budapest in the 200 free this past summer. Pieroni is still improving in his senior year and could give the 1:30 barrier in the 200 free a scare at NCAA’s in Minnesota.
18. Mauro Castillo, Senior, Texas A&M
2017 Times: 100 Breast, 52.12 (NCAA); 200 Breast, 1:52.01 (NCAA)
Castillo has the fastest time in the nation going into this year in the 200 breast as that event is wide open after the top two from last year graduated. It will certainly be a dog fight as four guys are all at 1:52 headed into this season.
17. Zheng Quah, Sophomore, California
2017 Times: 100 Fly, 45.06 (NCAA); 200 Fly, 1:38.83 (NCAA)
Zheng arrived in Berkeley in January last year and made a quick transition to the United States with two top eight finishes at NCAA’s in March. Zheng has the top time in the 200 fly going into this year as he will be locking horns with fellow Singaporean Joseph Schooling in March in Minnesota.
16. Mark Szaranek, Senior, Florida
2017 Times: 200 IM, 1:40.67 (NCAA); 400 IM, 3:36.31 (NCAA)
Szaranek took the NCAA meet by storm when he tied for first in the 200 IM with Will Licon last season. Szaranek is one of the favorites in both IM events this year that are stacked with big names. He has already proven he can get it done, so don’t sleep on him in his senior year.
15. John Shebat, Junior, Texas
2017 Times: 100 Back, 44.35 (NCAA); 200 Back, 1:37.24 (NCAA)
8-time NCAA champion Ryan Murphy has graduated, leaving the door wide open for someone else to finally stand on top of the podium at NCAA’s in the backstroke events. Shebat finished second and could be the first Longhorn to win a backstroke title since Aaron Peirsol in 2004.
14. Akaram Mahmoud, Senior, South Carolina
2017 Times: 500 Free, 4:09.73 (NCAA); 1650 Free, 14:22.99 (NCAA)
Mahmoud was a part of one of the most epic races in the history of the NCAA meet last season in the 1650 where he finished third in the epic four-person race that came down to the finish. Mahmoud is again a favorite in the mile headed into his senior year as Mark Bernadino has this South Carolina team on the rise.
13. Jan Switkowski, Senior, Florida
2017 Times: 200 IM, 1:41.17 (NCAA); 200 Free, 1:32.44 (NCAA); 200 Fly, 1:40.94 (SEC)
Switkowski is in his senior year at Florida and the Gators will need every ounce out of him if they can catch Texas at the top of the team race. Switkowski is one of the most versatile swimmers in the country, but still has yet to win an individual title. The 2015 World’s bronze medalist in the 200 fly could surprise some people if he is 100% on his game this year.
12. Vini Lanza, Junior, Indiana
2017 Times: 200 IM, 1:41.59 (B1G); 100 Fly, 45.07 (B1G); 200 IM, 1:40.97 (B1G)
Lanza underperformed at the NCAA’s in March, but based on his Big Ten times, he is a big player this season as he ranks in the pre-season top eight in three events. Lanza will be heavily relied upon in his junior year as Indiana will be looking for a second straight Big Ten title.
11. Jonathan Roberts, Senior, Texas
2017 Times: 200 IM, 1:42.24 (NCAA); 400 IM, 3:38.18 (NCAA); 200 Back, 1:39.05 (NCAA)
Roberts was a quiet member of the Texas team that won the title last season. He got into the A-final in all three of his events, scoring some major points for Texas. Roberts will be a key piece this year if Texas wins its fourth straight national title in 2018.
10. Dean Farris, Sophomore, Harvard
2017 Times: 200 Free, 1:31.56 (Ivy); 100 Back, 45.38 (Ivy); 200 Back, 1:39.99 (NCAA)
Farris had a huge freshman season where he took everyone by surprise by his quick times at the Ivy League Championships. He will be a big player in the 200 free this year as the big, tall Farris could be the first national champion at Harvard since David Berkoff won the 100 back in 1989.
9. Dylan Carter, Senior, Southern Cal
2017 Times: 100 Fly, 45.27 (Texas Invite); 200 Free, 1:30.95 (NCAA); 100 Free, 41.73 (NCAA)
Carter came back from an Olympic redshirt with a big season for USC. Carter gave Townley Haas a big run for his money in the 200 free at NCAA’s last year when he dipped under 1:31 leading off the 800 free relay. Carter will be looking to lead a USC team back to a top four finish, after missing out the last two seasons.
8. Andreas Vazaios, Junior, NC State
2017 Times: 200 IM, 1:40.77 (NCAA); 100 Back, 45.26 (NCAA); 200 Fly, 1:40.77 (NCAA)
Vazaios was a huge piece for NC State when they shocked Texas in the 800 free relay on the first night in Indianapolis. The junior from Greece is a favorite in the stacked 200 IM field as three guys are under 1:41 going into this season. Vazaios will also be heavily relied upon in relay duty as NC State will be looking to stay in the top four for the third straight year.
7. Townley Haas, Junior, Texas
2017 Times: 500 Free, 4:08.92 (NCAA); 200 Free, 1:30.65 (NCAA)
Haas is on pace to clean sweep the 200 free at NCAA’s and be the first ever to win the event four times. Haas also had a strong summer where he got the silver medal at the Worlds in Budapest in the 200. This will be Haas’ first year without Clark Smith as the latter has moved on the pro group in Austin. This shouldn’t stop Haas as he is a big favorite in both the 200 and 500 this year.
6. Gunnar Bentz, Senior, Georgia
2017 Times: 200 IM, 1:40.90 (NCAA); 400 IM, 3:36.60 (NCAA); 200 Fly, 1:40.07 (NCAA)
Bentz was one of the top recruits as a senior in 2014. He still has yet to win an individual title, but he improved big time in his junior season by getting into the A-final in all three of his events. He missed the World Championship team this past summer, but that should motivate him to have a big senior season for the Bulldogs, and carry on the 400 IM legacy in Athens.
5. Joseph Schooling, Senior, Texas
2017 Times: 50 Free, 18.76 (Big 12); 100 Fly, 43.75 (NCAA)
Schooling will have revenge on his mind going into this season as he has made it clear he doesn’t want to lose to Caeleb Dressel in the 100 fly. Schooling is fresh off a bronze medal in the 100 at the World Championships and will be looking to get his 100 fly title back from Dressel.
4. Ryan Held, Senior, NC State
2017 Times: 50 Free, 18.58 (NCAA); 100 Fly, 44.79 (ACC); 100 Free, 41.21 (NCAA)
Held has lived in the shadow of Caeleb Dressel the last few years, but Held is still the fourth fastest American all-time in the 100 free, despite having no individual NCAA titles. Held came away with his first individual gold medal at the World University Games in the 100 free in Taipei this summer. That added confidence should pay dividends for him in his senior season.
3. Andrew Seliskar, Junior, California
2017 Times: 200 IM, 1:41.24 (Pac-12); 400 IM, 3:36.18 (NCAA); 200 Fly, 1:40.74 (Georgia Invite)
Seliskar had a big breakout sophomore season for Cal as he finished second in the 400 IM behind Chase Kalisz and will be one of the favorites this year in that event. In fact, Seliskar could be a favorite in all three of his events if he can hit his taper this season, as he was inconsistent with his rested times last season.
2. Felix Auboeck, Sophomore, Michigan
2017 Times: 500 Free, 4:08.95 (NCAA); 200 Free, 1:32.02 (NCAA); 1650 Free, 14:22.88 (NCAA)
Maybe second is a little high, but keep in mind Auboeck reached the final in Budapest in the 400 free (5th) and the 800 free (6th). Auboeck was also a part of the epic 1650 race last year and he went toe to toe with Townley Haas in the 500 before Haas ultimately out-touched him. Auboeck is also swimming for a very good coach in Josh White, so don’t expect Auboeck to slow down.
1. Caeleb Dressel, Senior, Florida
2017 Times: 50 Free, 18.23 (NCAA); 100 Fly, 43.58 (NCAA); 100 Free, 40.00 (NCAA)
If Dressel wins the 50 at NCAA’s this year, he would be the first to win the event four times at the meet as he is looking for the clean sweep. Dressel is coming off a huge summer where he won three individual gold medals in Budapest and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. If Florida has any chance of winning the team title this season, they will need a lot out of Dressel in his individual events as well as in relays.
All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.