Another poll, another bone to pick, another blog, another process gone unimproved.
Men or women, it doesn’t really matter. The ultimate problem with the poll is that A) coaches don’t pay attention enough to ALL the teams around the country and B) even if they did, they’d still have the balancing act of tapered times/national performance and actual dual meets. Do they need to figure out how teams would swim in dual meets if tapered? Should they go solely on swims swum without the help of a rest or shave?
The ultimate problem with this specific poll is timing. Since the last poll was released, December 15th, 2010, a lot of teams haven’t even taken a competitive stroke. Let me rephrase that. A lot of teams haven’t competed beyond their training trip meets. Is that really a fair judgement? I’ll answer my own question with the answer: no. Some teams swim their meets at the beginning, others swim it at the end. Where you are in training trip training makes a big difference… BIG difference. Despite this lack of competition, coaches were able to make a lot of moves in the polls. Only 15 teams (out of 50) stayed in the same spot as the last poll. That’s 30%! How did 70% of teams move around? Granted, the movements weren’t large, but a move is a move.
To jump into specifics and let’s use the manta “ladies first”:
You’ll notice that the coaches corrected their error… mistake?… oversight?… stupidly obvious blunder?… Whatever we call it, Emory is back on top as they should be. Use a dual, use an invite, hell, use a practice and Emory is the top team in the world of women’s swimming. Thank you coaches for not screwing that one up again.
Beyond first, a couple things jump out at me. It should be noted that I don’t follow women’s swimming as closely as I should. That being said, I’m not a coach or a voter, so I don’t need to. Amherst dropped a few spots. That seems fair considering their loss to Williams, but looking at the results, they swam better than they have all season and no team, not even Emory, has an answer for Kendra Stern. Ms. Stern gives Amherst 3 wins against any team, including a lot of d1 schools, which is a nice place to start. I’d argue their loss was significantly more telling of Williams’s strength than it was of any Amherst weakness.
I also noticed Gustavus is once again ranked. As the brother of a women’s team alum, I can applaud this, but as a fan of polls, I cannot. They got 42 points to St. Olaf’s 7 (not ranked). Their dual took place a while ago, but look at the results. St. Olaf won! Maybe Gustavus has improved, but not by a point total of 42-7.
Shifting gears to the men, we can bypass first place talk since it’s not really a conversation worth having. Hopkins jumps 2 spots to 4th with their strong body of work since the last poll. What’s that you say? They haven’t swum since the last poll was released? Ah, it must have been the poor performances of those in front of them then, clearly. Oh, you say MIT beat Wheaton 219-78 while Kalamazoo won against 2 ranked opponents despite not putting in their strongest lineup against Chicago?
What I’m saying here isn’t that Hopkins doesn’t deserve to be ranked 4th, but rather a confusion on how they are now worthy, after not being worthy last time. Is George Kennedy out there soliciting votes like Cecil Newton solicits illegal payments? Sneaky move.
Beyond that, while things move a bit here and there, the majority of the rest of the men’s teams don’t move much, rightfully so. However, I must question why Olivet continues to be ranked 25th. Granted, they didn’t swim a non-training trip meet between now and the last poll, but prior to that last poll, they have continued to show they can compete with the teams ranked higher. They came within a few points of beating 14th ranked Hope College despite missing their top diver. Based on midseason results I scored out, they would have defeated Chicago (argument again of rest) and St. Olaf, ranked 17th and 18th respectively.
I love the idea of this poll, but if you’re going to do something, do it right. The coaches who don’t know, shouldn’t vote. The coaches who do, should voice their opinions and let others know who is being overlooked. If high schoolers are looking at this, they deserve to know about more than the current establishment of top teams. They deserve to know who is making moves and knocking off traditionally better teams. Everyone will see who the best teams are come conference and national meets, but who the best dual meet team won’t be settled in the pool.
We apologize on the delay of getting this poll up on our site. It will be posted but they sent it to us in a different format so we’re trying to either re-format everything or have them send it over in the same format as last time. The new poll can be found externally here.