So how did we create with the rankings?
First, we compiled a rankings list of all returning swims in each event from last season. Next, we added the best times from each incoming freshman to the event lists to complete the preseason time projections for each race. From there, the events are scored two different ways: First is a top 50 points system to analyze depth -- starting with the top-ranked team receiving 50 points and descending to one point. Second is the NCAA's top 16 scoring system. Relays are included into this as well. Combining those factors, we found the average of each team to create the final top 25 preseason rankings.
In case you missed Nos. 25-11, visit the links below.
2017 NCAA Finish: 5th
The Cardinal men are looking to carry over their successful summer into the collegiate season. Abrahm DeVine found himself racing the 200m IM in Budapest at the 2017 FINA World Championships and his college teammate True Sweetser also broke out at U.S. Nationals as America's next distance leader. Behind the guidance of the legendary Jeff Kostoff, the distance crew is where Stanford shines. Grant Shoults, Liam Egan, and Sweetser plus the addition of incoming freshman Matthew Hirschberger will make their events ones to fear. Stanford lives by their depth. Flashy swims won't necessarily be how they'll score, it will be with depth and consistency. Behind the leadership of senior Sam Perry, the Cardinal will also look to bolster their sprint relays if they want to move up any further into the top five.
4) North Carolina State
2017 NCAA Finish: 4th
If there has ever been a year for NC State to make a championships push, this is the year. NCAAs isn't going to be the giant landslide it has been in recent years. They're starting the year fourth because the rest of the nation is in the same boat. Aside from coach Todd DeSorbo heading to take the head coaching gig at Virginia, the Wolfpack will look to replace NCAA scorers (relay & individual) Soren Dahl, Adam Linker, Andreas Schiellerup, Scott Johnson, and Joe Bonk. Along with Ryan Held, the emergence of Justin Ress this summer makes NC State dangerous. Entering the year they are fourth, but they are a dark house to take it all if they can put some more pieces of the puzzle together at the right time.
2017 NCAA Finish: 3rd
If one thing is almost for certain, it's that the collegiate swimmer of the year will come from Florida. Caeleb Dressel swam his way into the world's most elite in Budapest this summer. He is arguably the best active male swimmer in the world. Crazy thing is, there is much more firepower behind the Gators team. International swimmers Jan Switkowski and Mark Szaranek both fair well in their respective events. The Gators are also a breakout collegiate swim from Maxime Rooney away from another freestyle star. Obviously Dressel will be fast, but watch out for the Gators in the relays as well as they return most of their scorers.
2017 NCAA Finish: 1st
After three years as king of the hill, California looks to nudge the Horns down a step. The issue for Texas is the sizable loss they take by Jack Conger, Clark Smith, and Will Licon exhausting their eligibility. Doubting Texas is always a risky position to take, though. No one thinks less of Townley Haas or John Shebat, they are entering as the odds on favorites to claim NCAA titles. Joseph Schooling can reclaim his crown in the 200 butterfly, although he will have to run into Dressel's buzzsaw in the 100. The incoming class isn't what Cal's is and the sophomore class doesn't have a single time in the preseason top 25. Texas is carried by its experience, but needs youth to win a fourth straight national championship. Then again, how many times has Eddie Reese developed diamonds in the rough? Never count them out in March.
2017 NCAA Finish: 2nd
California and Texas have occupied the top-two spots at the year's end all but once since 2010. This year, California starts at the top for good reasons. First of all, Dave Durden did some great recruiting. Four swimmers in the top eight of the 2017 class are headed to Berkeley. Headliners in the class include: sprinter Ryan Hoffer, Daniel Carr, Bryce Mefford, and Sean Grieshop. The Bears do take one massive hit due to graduation, however, with backstroke king Ryan Murphy. At the end of the day, the incoming freshman are the difference maker on the relays, giving the Bears the edge over the Longhorns to start the year.