Ranking the Classes - #1-5



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#5 Stanford

Lea Mauer does not take the easy route to anything.  As an athlete the dynamo defied odds to make the Olympic team through sheer determination.  En route to national high school championships, she riled rivals with her relentless competitiveness.   So to see rivals Cal and USC sign the cream of the crop – names like Totsky, Pelton and Bootsma – you’ve got to wonder if Mauer considers going on a charm offensive – trading her next born for a selection to the National Junior team, becoming fast Facebook friends with the nation’s top recruits, or maybe just promising them an easy road to success. 

Think again.  Lea Maurer gets the right kids for her program.  Since her return to the Farm, the dynamo has helped reshape Stanford from a collection of talent to a team and this year’s class is reflective of that.    That’s not to say this class lacks star power.  Sarah Haase, she of the national independent high school record in the 100 breaststroke not only shores up Stanford’s weakest area – it gives the Cardinal a piece they’ve lacked since the days of Tara Kirk.  Even better, Haase’s signing didn’t scare away Connecticut’s Kaylin Moss.  By buying into team, the two should push one another and likewise push whatever underwater kickers the Cal medley relays throw at them. 

Allison Brown, Julia Anderson and Julia Ama are reminiscent of some of Georgia’s recent classes.  Think versatile freestyle and you get the idea.  They won’t immediately ease the loss of seniors Betsy Webb or Samantha Woodward, but they’ll keep Stanford relays relevant at the NCAA meet.  The wildcard of the bunch is Michigan state champion Jaynie Pulte.  After hitting a bit of a plateau she was looking for a change and found it in Randy Reese.  That’s hardly taking the easy way, but it’s something that gives you the sense that she will fit right in

Incoming Freshmen

Rank Name State
Score
14
Sarah Haase MD
1.40
25
Allison Brown CA
1.65
28
Julia A Anderson TX
1.70
44
Kaylin Moss CT
2.31
93
Julia Ama CA
3.89
184
Jaynie Pulte MI
7.91

Graduating Seniors

Name Conference
Points
NCAA
Points
Webb, Betsy
81
38
Woodward, Sam 80
27
Bruce, Jamie 38

Kraemer, Kerry 27

Duckworth, Angela 11





#4 Georgia

While the Bulldogs graduate NCAA finalists Wendy Trott and Michelle McKeehan, the best part about Georgia’s graduating class is that it doesn’t include Allison Schmitt.  Schmitty is expected to return to Athens next Fall for one last run at a NCAA team title.

Schmitt stepped away from UGA for the year to train for a shot at the London games.  If she makes it she will be racing future teammate Brittany Maclean.  In March Maclean shattered the Canadian record in the 400 Freestyle and she’s the lynchpin to a small but very-talented class.  Georgia added a second Canadian to the roster.  Chantal Landeghem is an exceptional young sprinter who missed making the trip to London by 0.01. 

One teammate Schmitt is already getting to know is Annie Zhu.  Zhu switched from Asphalt Green to North Baltimore and will arrive in Athens as the heir-apparent to McKeehan.   While she has a NAG record to her name she will still have to beat out Jana Mangimellli and Megan Molnar for the spot on the medley relay. 

Hali Flickinger rounds out the Bulldogs’ incoming group.  The multi-event threat had planned to go to Texas but instead opted for the red and black.  In retrospect, it would have been interesting to listen in on those calls between Flickinger and then UGA Assistant Carol Capitani.   Had Flickinger stayed with her initial choice, she’d be swimming for Capitani who was named head coach of the Longhorns earlier this month.

How Georgia fill’s Capitani’s position will be interesting  and potentially pivotal.  Jack and Harvey aren’t getting any younger but they are among the best in closing the deal.  If the Bulldogs are to make another NCAA title run, they need to find someone who can set them up with the nation’s (and world’s) best female recruits.

Incoming Freshmen

Rank Name State
Score
8
Brittany MacLean CAN
1.12
8
Chantal Landeghem CAN
1.12
12
Annie Zhu NY
1.28
16
Hali Flickinger PA
1.48

Losses

Name Conference
Points
NCAA
Points
Trott, Wendy 42
31
McKeehan, Michelle 50
20
Shickora, Kristen 41
16





#3 North Carolina
Last year the Tarheels found themselves scrambling to replace Rebecca Kane, Layne Brodie and Carly Smith.  Between LSU transfer Cari Blaylock’s arrival and the development of Breaststrokers Laura Moriarty and Katie Keel and backstroker Candace Cooper the Tarheels held their own but for a team that had finished less than 50 points behind Virginia at the 2011 ACC championships, 2012’s 200+ point drubbing showed that if you’re just holding steady, you’re losing ground in the increasingly competitive ACC.

This class does more than hold its own.  The Tarheels patched some needs and made them strengths – witness breaststroke.  Moriarty and Keel are gone.  In their place are three of the top ten breaststroke recruits available – Lauren Earp, Madison Burns and Rachel Canty.  Earp hails from the Great White North and is going to be joined by backstroker/IMer Annie Harrison for a formidable Canadian Combo. 

It wasn’t enough that UNC swiped Canty out from under UVA’s nose, they also added fellow Virginian Emma Nunn.  Nunn is one of the top 200 flyers in this year’s class but also has the range and versatility to contribute points in 4-6 different events.     Hannah Lincoln will also strengthen the butterfly events, but her biggest contribution could come on the sprint free relays. 

Kendall Surhoff has versatility similar to Nunn’s not to mention a big legacy to live up to.  Her mother is a Tarheel legend and brother Austin already has one NCAA title to his name.  Her ranking belies her potential and she’s someone we see as an impact player sooner rather than later.

Allyn Hardesty and Charlotte Ruby round out the class.  Their times hold their own, but as recent history has shown, they’ll have to live up to their potential to crack an increasingly deep conference team and move UNC up an increasingly challenging conference leaderboard.

Incoming Freshmen

Rank Name State
Score
20
Lauren Earp
1.56
38
Emma Nunn VA
2.18
40
Annie Harrison CAN
2.25
70
Madison L Burns PA
3.25
78
Rachel N Canty VA
3.33
103
Hannah Lincoln NC
4.38
121
Charlotte Ruby CA
4.87
123
Allyn A Hardesty TN
4.89
157
Kendall Surhoff MD
6.85
229
Allison Haufler VA
9.93
324
Ann B Goessling MO
15.90

Graduating Seniors

Name Conference
Points
NCAA
Points
Moriarty, Laura 28

Tanner, Sarah 19

Cooper, Candace
16

Pesacreta, Marie
11

Keel, Katie
5

Moore, Jenna
3

Arnold, Kristin
2





#2 Florida
Sometimes too much of a good thing can be just that – too much.  Four years ago Florida signed sixteen swimmers to the second-ranked class in the country.  Transfers and dismissals are part of the game, but when it hits a class as hard as it hit the Gators’ 2008 Class it can handcuff your ability to spend and reassess your recruiting strategy.

This year’s class is a reflection of that.  It’s smaller, leaner and well-targeted.  It fills the Gators’ biggest losses in backstroke and sprint free and fly.  In Canada the Russell swimming family is almost as storied as the Crippen’s in America (albeit for different reasons), and in the water Sinead Russell looks to pick up where Teresa Crippen left off.   She will get help from the very capable Ashlee Linn and up-and-comer Sierra Kuhn.

Natalie Hinds and Lindsey McKnight should help the Gator relays get back into the championship final.  Hinds is almost on par with Bateman in the butterfly and the competition between the two should lift the freestyle relays.  The biggest contribution ultimately could come from McKnight.  While a 1:01.4 is nothing to sneeze at, her development as a breaststroker could shore up Florida’s thinnest event and put the Gators back into the title hunt.

Incoming Freshmen

Rank Name State
Score
6
Sinead Russell CAN
1.04
7
Lindsey L McKnight FL
1.11
18
Ashlee Linn FL
1.53
19
Natalie A Hinds TX
1.55
35
Sierra Kuhn WI
2.01
103
Taylor Roy GA
4.38

Graduating Seniors

Name Conference
Points
NCAA
Points
Crippen, Teresa 49
38
Bateman, Sarah 40
13


#1 California
Cal loses a lot, but they gain a lot more.  Gone are a pair of individual NCAA Champions in Liv Jensen and Sara Isakovic.  Four years ago we ranked them the #1 and #7 recruits in the Class of 2008.  This year the pair ranked 1st and 6th in terms of total points scored at NCAA’s (look it up if you don’t believe us).  This year they get two of the four recruits with perfect 1.0 scores.  Rachel Bootsma and Elizabeth Pelton can do something Jensen and Isakovic didn’t do as freshmen – win individual NCAA titles.   Of course the 2013 NCAA’s are still a long ways off and the Freshman year is never easy (just ask Elizabeth Beisel), but like Beisel, both could have their summer plans interrupted by an Olympic excursion.

Wait, hold the phone.  We just got word that Cal actually signed more than just Peltsma (or was it Booton).  Laren Driscoll is going to become a relay mainstay and help ease the loss of LIv Jensen and Sara Isakovic.  Same can be said for Kelly Naze.  Naze isn't the prototypical breaststroker that sidelines in the IM's.  What with a sub-53 in the fly and sub-50 in the free can you even really call her a breaststroker?   Those are just the top four but consider that the other two swimming signees - local talents Rachael Acker and Alicia Grima - are also among the best in the country.   Acker is the #2 or #3 sprinter in the country, again a fine replacement when you're losing Jensen and Isakovic, while Grima is a top-25 IM'er. 

Take any two names out off this list and Cal still has the number-one class in the country.  When you look at all six however, and when you look at Coach McKeever's history improvements, its probably enough to prevent us from repeating our mistake of picking Georgia to win the national title once again. 

Incoming Freshmen

Rank Name State
Score
1
Rachel Bootsma MN
1.00
1
Elizabeth A Pelton MD
1.00
5
Lauren N Driscoll FL
1.02
10
Kelly Naze CO
1.23
24
Rachael Acker CA
1.61
75
Alicia Grima CA
3.30

Graduating Seniors

Name Conference
Points
NCAA
Points
Jensen, Liv 92
50
Isakovic, Sara 84
36
Harper, Shelley 63
21.5
Fotsch, Colleen 42

Raatz, Katherine 35

Dailey, Ursi 23



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