SportStars’ 10 Year Anniversary Project Continues With Its Boys Swimming Big 10 — The Magazine’s Top 10 NorCal Boys Swimmers Of The Past Decade •
The Boys Swimming Big 10 is an installation of the SportStars Big 10 Project: A 10-months-long anniversary project to celebrate what will be 10 years of SportStars this June. We’ll be releasing lists of the Top 10 players and teams of the SportStars Era from across several sports all the way through October. Big 10s that have already been released: Girls Volleyball Players, Girls Golfers, Girls Wrestling, Boys Wrestling, and Girls Swimming.
After last week’s dive into girls swimming, we move to the boys. Just like the girls list, this one reflects NorCal’s deep cache of swimming talent. Though unlike the girls list, this one features three different swimmers who have their collegiate career completely ahead of them.
Two of the swimmers on this list are part of the same quartet that currently holds the American record in the 200 Medley Relay. One swimmer competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Another swimmer owns the current national public high school record in the 100 butterfly, and two other swimmers set national high school marks in their prep careers. This list also includes NCAA, Pac-12, SEC and Ivy League champions. Finally, there are multiple swimmers on the list who have won at least three CIF State titles.
Here’s The Big 10, listed alphabetically. All events are in yards unless otherwise stated.
Ben Dillard | Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills ’20
The first of three graduating seniors this season, Dillard was denied a chance to add to his already-impressive list of high school successes. Considered one of the best senior breaststrokers in the country, Dillard had the nation’s best 200 breaststroke time of 2020 before all competition ended due to coronavirus. Dillard is a six-time Sac-Joaquin Section champion and owns the current SJS record in the 100 breaststroke. He’s also the two-time defending CIF state champion in the event. Dillard heads to USC in the fall.
Albert Gwo | Los Altos ’16
Gwo is one of the best sprinters to come out of the Central Coast Section in the past decade. He’s a three-time CCS champion, claiming two titles in the 50 freestyle and another in the 100 freestyle. He took full advantage of the CIF adding swimming and diving to its state championship schedule in 2015. Gwo claimed three state titles and remains the event record holder in the 50 freestyle. He then went on to star at Columbia University where he set the school record in the 50 freestyle. He’s also a four-time Ivy League champion.
Connor Hoppe | Golden Valley-Merced ’14
Between his junior and senior year, Hoppe dropped his other sporting endeavors to focus on swimming. It was a good move. After setting an SJS record in the 100 breaststroke as a junior, Hoppe returned the following year and shaved close to two seconds off the record mark. It remains the SJS time to beat. Hoppe went on to become a two-time Pac-12 champion in the 100 breaststroke and a seven-time All-American at Cal. He was a member of both Cal medley relay teams (200 and 400) that hold the current American Records.
Ethan Hu | Harker School-San Jose ’20
Hu graduates Harker ranked among the top 10 senior swimming recruits in the country, according to SwimSwam.com. He’s a six-time CCS champion and holds meet records in three of the events: 100 butterfly, 200 individual medley and 200 medley relay. The butterfly is Hu’s most dominant stroke. He had 2020’s fastest high school time in the 100 fly nationwide. He’s a two-time state champion in the event and holds the CIF record. He also picked up a state title in the 200 IM. His collegiate career will take place just up the road at Stanford.
Justin Lynch | Visions In Education (Online) ’14
Lynch will be a controversial addition to this list because he never competed for a high school team. The Vallejo native home schooled while competing with the elite unit of the Concord Terrapins club. Lynch found his way to the cover of SportStars in the Summer of 2013 after setting the 15-16 National Age Group Record in the 100-meter butterfly at the World Championship Trials. It was a 12-year-old record previously held by Michael Phelps. He continued on to a stellar collegiate career that included 11 Pac-12 championships and two NCAA titles while swimming for Cal. He was part of the same American Record-setting 2018 medley relay team as Connor Hoppe.
Bryce Mefford | Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills ’17
Over four years, Mefford grabbed 10 SJS championships with the Trojans. His individual titles included two in the 200 freestyle, two in the 100 butterfly and one in the 100 backstroke. He remains the SJS record holder in the 200 freestyle. Mefford also claimed three state championships, two in the 100 fly and one in the 200 free. He was part of Cal’s 2019 NCAA Championship team and is already a seven-time All-American and two-time Pac-12 champion (200 backstroke, 800 free relay). A current member of the men’s national team, Mefford has already qualified in two events for the 2021 Olympic Trials.
Maxime Rooney | Granada-Livermore ’16
Rooney was an eight-time North Coast Section champion who still holds records in three events (200 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 400 freestyle relay). His records in the 200 free and 400 free relay both set national public school records at the time. His lead leg to that 400 relay swim also set an NCS 100 freestyle record at the time. Rooney’s first two seasons at the University of Florida included five SEC championships, one in the 200 free and four relay victories. He was the SEC Freshman Swimmer of the Year in 2017. He transferred to Texas prior to the 2019-20 school year.
Alexei Sancov | Northgate-Walnut Creek ’18
Sancov was an Olympic swimmer before he’d ever swum a lap for Northgate. He competed at the 2016 Games for Moldova, an Eastern European nation bordered by Romania and Ukraine. He swam the 200 freestyle and finished 34th. A month later he enrolled at his new school and began rewriting the NCS records list. He won seven NCS titles in his two years at Northgate and holds the records for both the 100 and 500 freestyles. Sancov also shares the 200 freestyle record with Rooney. He also won two state championships and holds the CIF records in the 100 and 200 freestyles. He competes for USC now.
Steven Stumph | Campolindo-Moraga ’13
From his sophomore year on, if Stumph was in the water there was a record in jeopardy of falling. Stumph set his first NCS record as a sophomore, breaking an 18-year-old mark in the 200 individual medley. He lowered that record the following year while also setting the new section mark in the 100 breaststroke. His senior performance at the NCS Championships featured three record swims and included setting the new national public school mark in the 100 breaststroke. While no longer the national record, his time of 53.39 seconds is the longest standing of any NCS record. He won 10 NCS titles before moving on to USC where he set the school record in the 200 breaststroke and was a two-time Pac-12 champion in the event.
Luca Urlando | McClatchy-Sacramento ’20
SwimSwam.com ranks Urlando as the No. 2 overall senior recruit in the nation. Which means NorCal was robbed to see what he might have done in his final postseason with McClatchy. Instead he heads to the University of Georgia as the current national public school record holder in the 100 butterfly (45.88 seconds), which he set last year at the SJS Championships. He won five SJS titles across three events and owns the record for each. In addition to the 100 fly, he also holds the 200 IM and 100 backstroke marks. In June of 2019, Urlando broke Michael Phelps’ 17-18 National Age Group Record in the 200-meter butterfly. The swim made Urlando the third-fastest American all-time in the event. Urlando did not attend any CIF meets, choosing to train for summer long course events.