By The Class: Top 5 DI Female Seniors To Watch

By The Class: Top 5 DI Female Seniors To Watch
Photo: © Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to the next installment of our newest series, By The Class. In this series, we will analyze the top five Division I swimmers -- both male and female -- to watch out for in the upcoming 2017-2018 NCAA season.

While there are certain sure bets, things don't always shake out in March as we expect them to in September.


Scouting The Field


2017-18 Top 5 Seniors -- Women


1.) Janet Hu (Stanford)

Janet Hu Lifetime Best 2017 NCAA Finish
100 Butterfly 50.38 6th
100 Backstroke 50.29 5th
200 Backstroke 1:49.36 15th
You have probably heard the quote, "Consistency wins championships." If that is true, then Stanford's​ Janet Hu​ is a champion in every sense of the word. The Cardinals senior has shown incredible consistency by throwing down 50 points in the 100 fly and 100 back on command. Not only that, but she has been a stable piece for just about all of Stanford's relays throughout her career. Had she matched her 2017 Pac-12 times at NCAAs (the times shown in the table above), Hu would have placed third in the 100 butterfly, third in the 100 backstroke, and third in the 200 backstroke. She will have a tough go with ​Kathleen Baker​ in the backstrokes, but Hu returns as the fastest performer in the 100 fly so look for her to join the party of Cardinals winning NCAA titles. Beyond the individual events, Hu will be on both of Stanford's medley relays along with the 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay -- all four of those relays finished top three at NCAAs last season.

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2.) Bethany Galat (Texas A&M)

Bethany Galat Lifetime Best 2017 NCAA Finish
200 IM 1:54.16 5th
400 IM 4:01.06 4th
200 Breaststroke 2:06.68 9th
Texas A&M's ​Bethany Galat​ is coming in hot to the 2017-18 season after picking up a silver medal in the 200m breaststroke this past summer at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. The Aggies senior is arguably a better long course swimmer than short course, but with momentum on her side and one final ride with her teammates in College Station, look for her to make moves and even contend for a title in the 400 IM. Galat is not a relay swimmer, but she will certainly make three championship finals -- making her invaluable to head coach ​Steve Bultman​ and Texas A&M.

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3.) Noemie Thomas (Cal-Berkeley)

Noemie Thomas Lifetime Best 2017 NCAA Finish
50 Freestyle 22.42 Did Not Swim
100 Butterfly 50.44 5th
200 Butterfly 1:53.77 10th
Butterfly specialist ​Noemie Thomas​ has been a focal point for the Cal Bears throughout her career. Thomas is the third-fastest returner in the 100 butterfly -- an event in which multiple swimmers are flirting around the 50-point low to mid-range. As a matter of fact, Thomas was the top seed out of prelims a year ago before slipping to fifth in finals. Regardless, the Canadian senior will almost certainly be in both championship finals and top three finishing medley relays as well -- racking up significant points for ​Teri McKeever's​ squad. With ​Farida Osman​ exhausting her eligibility, Thomas could even sneak onto Cal's freestyle relays -- making her that much more valuable in the team fight with Stanford.

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4.) Ally Howe (Stanford)

Ally Howe Lifetime Best 2017 NCAA Finish
200 IM 1:54.82 10th
100 Backstroke 49.69 4th
200 Backstroke 1:51.16 23rd
​Ally Howe ​shocked the swimming community last season at Pac-12s by shattering ​Natalie Coughlin's​ 15-year-old NCAA, American, and U.S. Open record in the 100 backstroke. In 2002, Coughlin did the unthinkable at the time by dropping a 49.97 to become the first ever under the 50-second barrier. Until Howe in 2017, nobody had broken 50 (Coughlin only did it once). But Howe didn't just break it -- she obliterated it with a 49.69. ​Kathleen Baker​, who finished runner-up to Howe in that record-breaking swim, decided to get in on the action, too. Baker dropped a 49.8 at NCAAs to take home the title, while Howe settled for fourth. Howe did not have the best NCAAs, but if she can duplicate her best times in 2018 she will certainly make three championship finals. On top of that, she will lead off a pair of Stanford relays capable of taking home titles.

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5.) Hannah Stevens (Missouri)

Hannah Stevens Lifetime Best 2017 NCAA Finish
50 Freestyle 22.63 Did Not Swim
100 Backstroke 50.57 3rd
200 Backstroke 1:51.41 11th
The last, but certainly not least, swimmer to watch is Missouri's ​Hannah Stevens​. The senior is coming off a successful summer in which she earned a berth on Team USA's World Championship team in Budapest, where she finished ninth in the 50m backstroke. Stevens will look to ride that wave (water pun intended) into her final college season and challenge for an NCAA title in the 100 backstroke. It won't be an easy feat with the likes of ​Kathleen Baker​ and aforementioned Stanford teammates ​Janet Hu​ and ​Ally Howe​, but Stevens has the speed to pull the upset. If she wants to be a major contributor for the Tigers, she will need to bring her 200 down to the sub-1:50 range. The question mark for her is whether or not to swim a third individual event -- likely the 50 free -- on the same day as the 400 medley relay? That will depend heavily on how strong Mizzou's relay is looking.

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