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Impact Rating

A Practical Rating System for College Swimming Recruits

Jamie Bailey      |      Jul 7, 2024

Introduction

Impact Rating is a framework that assigns an objective numeric rating to a college swimming recruit. The methodology used to compute a recruit’s Impact Rating directly reflects that recruit’s ability to make an athletic impact at the collegiate level.

The foundational components of the Impact Rating system are:
  • Open-source – All mathematical computations used are publicly documented.
  • Intuitive – Impact Rating scale is 0 to 100+, just like a grading system in school.
  • Balanced – Events are weighted equally.
  • Linear – Impact Rating math utilizes linear slopes for even point distribution across all skill levels.
  • Short Course Yards – College swimming is SCY and only SCY events factor into the computation.

Impact Rating Calculator

You can quickly calculate Impact Ratings using the calculator at https://swimintel.com/impact-rating/.

Impact Rankings for High School Recruits

A list of Impact Rankings for swimmers ages 15-18 can be found at https://swimintel.com/rankings/.

Find and Share Your Impact Rating/Ranking

To find and share your Impact Rating/Ranking:
  • Go to the Impact Rankings page (Rankings -> HS Recruits).
  • Select your gender in the filter dropdown.
  • Type your name in the “Search swimmers…” search bar and hit “Enter” or “Return”.
  • When your Impact Rating/Ranking displays, click the three-dot menu on the far right (beside your rating).
  • Click “Generate Share URL”. This will open a new tab with your Impact Rating/Ranking graphic. Copy the URL in this tab to share it with anyone.

How to Interpret a Recruit’s Impact Rating

The Impact Rating scale is 0 to 100+ with higher numbers reflecting a better rating (and a faster swimmer). Much like a grading scale where 90 to 100+ is an A, Impact Ratings of 90 to 100+ reflect the upper end of high school swimming recruits.
  • 75% of current female D1 swimmers had an Impact Rating of 90+ in high school.
  • 61% of current male D1 swimmers had an Impact Rating of 90+ in high school.
The percentile distribution of high school ratings for female D1 swimmers is as follows:
  • 10%: 88.06
  • 25%: 90.02
  • 50%: 92.14
  • 75%: 94.35
  • 90%: 96.25
The percentile distribution of high school ratings for male D1 swimmers is as follows:
  • 10%: 86.96
  • 25%: 88.75
  • 50%: 91.81
  • 75%: 93.68
  • 90%: 94.94
In other words,
The average female D1 swimmer had a high school rating of 92.14.
90% of female D1 swimmers had a rating greater than 88.06.
The average male D1 swimmer had a high school rating of 91.81.
90% of male D1 swimmers had a rating greater than 86.96.

Distribution by conference:

*Note: While these distributions show Impact Ratings from NCAA Division I swimmers for calibration purposes, several NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, and NAIA conferences/schools have average recruit Impact Ratings that greatly exceed many Division I conference/school average recruit ratings. Fast swimming is in no way limited to NCAA Division I.

How Impact Ratings Are Calculated

The mathematical computations used for Impact Ratings are derived from the MeenaMethod framework developed and published by former University of Florida swimmer, Elliot Meena. The basics of the math are as follows:
  • The equation used for computation is (1 – ((T – B) / B)) * 100, where T is a swimmer’s time and B is the benchmark time.
  • Benchmark times are set as the fastest A-final cut time for each event (8th place in prelims) across all conference championships and published below.
  • The overall Impact Rating of a swimmer is calculated by averaging the Impact Rating calculation of that swimmer’s top three events.
Example:
  • Female Swimmer has a best time in the 100Y BK of 56.50.
  • The benchmark time for 100Y BK is 52.45 (prelims 8th place at 2024 ACC championships).
  • Swimmer’s 100Y BK Impact Rating = (1 – ((T – B) / B)) * 100 = (1 – ((56.50 – 52.45) / 52.45)) * 100 = 92.28.
  • Swimmer’s 200Y BK Impact Rating (2:03.50) = 91.62.
  • Swimmer’s 200Y IM Impact Rating (2:06.50) = 91.99.
  • Swimmer’s overall Impact Rating = (92.28 + 91.62 + 91.99) / 3 = 91.96.
2024-25 benchmark times are as follows:

For women:
  • 50Y FR – 0:21.90
  • 100Y FR – 0:48.54
  • 200Y FR – 1:45.02
  • 500Y FR – 4:41.97
  • 1650Y FR – 16:04.88
  • 100Y BK – 0:52.45
  • 200Y BK – 1:53.95
  • 100Y BR – 0:59.36
  • 200Y BR – 2:09.34
  • 100Y FL – 0:52.13
  • 200Y FL – 1:55.56
  • 200Y IM – 1:57.12
  • 400Y IM – 4:10.90
For men:
  • 50Y FR – 0:19.16
  • 100Y FR – 0:42.16
  • 200Y FR – 1:32.80
  • 500Y FR – 4:14.84
  • 1650Y FR – 14:53.68
  • 100Y BK – 0:45.56
  • 200Y BK – 1:40.32
  • 100Y BR – 0:52.25
  • 200Y BR – 1:54.30
  • 100Y FL – 0:45.50
  • 200Y FL – 1:42.49
  • 200Y IM – 1:43.77
  • 400Y IM – 3:43.31

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why create another swimming ratings system when there exist several others?
Each existing rating system has its own unique benefits and utility. There was not an existing rating system that had the foundational components listed in the Introduction section above. Impact Rating fills this gap.

Why publicly document the math behind the ratings calculations?
The methodology and mathematics behind rating/ranking systems should be openly documented to build trust between those who are rated/ranked and those who use those ratings/rankings. Concealing the math behind “proprietary” veils allows bias and errors to be hidden.

If the math/methodology is publicly documented, can the ratings system be manipulated?
The only way to get a better Impact Rating is to swim a faster time. There is no other mechanism to improve your Impact Rating outside of forging a false time, which is an inherent risk with all existing ratings systems.

Why does Impact Rating average the top three events for a swimmer and not two or four events?
Swimmers are allowed to swim up to three individual events at conference championships. Most college coaches want recruits who can contribute individual points in three events and prioritize as such.

Why doesn’t Impact Rating utilize long course meters?
College swimming competitions are only short course yards. Conversions between LCM and SCY are not reliable.

Do some college coaches care about long course meters?
Yes, but not because of college competitions. Major USA Swimming events such as World Championships and Olympic Trials give swimmers an opportunity to shine at high-profile long course events. College coaches may have an opportunity to coach their individual athletes at these events. But, this falls outside the scope of Impact Rating.

Can a recruit have an Impact Rating above 100?
Yes. Having a time that is faster than the benchmark time will produce a score greater than 100. A swimmer who has times that are faster than what would have made an A final at the fastest conference championships for those events last season will have an Impact Rating above 100.

Why doesn’t Impact Rating weight individual events that are also swam for relays higher than non-relay events?
While several individual events are also part of conference championship relays (50Y FR, 100Y FR, 200Y FR, 100Y BK, 100Y BR, 100Y FL), Impact Rating treats those events as equals to the other events (500Y FR, 1650Y FR, 200Y BK, 200Y BR, 200Y FL, 200Y IM, 400Y IM). Roster construction + event specialty balance is unique to every coaching staff. There are no arbitrary weightings that could be added to some events and not others that all college coaches would agree on.

Why are 1000Y FR, 50Y BK, 50Y BR, 50Y FL, and 100Y IM not included?
Only individual events that are common between NCAA Division I, II, and III championship events are utilized by Impact Rating. While the 1000Y FR is swam at Division II championships, it is not swam at Division I or III championships and is thus not included.

Why are benchmark times set to the fastest conference A-final cut time (prelims 8th place)?
The athletic component of college swimming recruiting centers around a recruit’s ability to score points at conference championships. A recruit that has a 100.0 Impact Rating would have times that exactly match the A-final cut times (prelims 8th place) at the fastest conference for those events. This calibrates Impact Rating to how a typical college coach recruits athletically.

If I have a great Impact Rating, will I be recruited by X college?
Maybe. Maybe not. There are many variables that go into college swimming recruiting. Every coach has his/her own criteria and specific event needs year-to-year. The only way to know if you fit on a specific team is to talk to that team’s coaching staff.

Will the Impact Rating calculation change year-to-year?
Benchmark times will change after conference championships every year. Changing the benchmark times will change Impact Rating calculations. The current benchmark times will be documented and updated on this page.