Cali Condors, Energy Standard Announce Protected Athletes For 2021

This week, the ISL will be announcing each team’s “protected” athletes: effectively, the pool from which each team will be retaining athletes as part of the draft process. To be clear: these are not the lists of athletes that a team will protect; rather, it is the group from which the team will choose up to 15 to protect, and from which fans will pick 1 additional swimmer to protect.

That means the new information will tell us two big things: which athletes have declined or refused to return to their former teams (which is something the league is, apparently, allowing), and which athletes are being given special exceptions after skipping the 2020 season and being allowed to return to their 2019 teams. Also excluded are athletes who didn’t register for the 2021 ISL season.

The professional swimming league started today with last year’s top two finishing teams, the 2020 league champion Cali Condors and the 2019 league champion Energy Standard. The league will continue with two more teams each day this week.

While these lists were pretty as-expected, we expect more interesting revelations later in the draft, both from teams like the London Roar that were missing many athletes from the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and from the lower-ranked teams, which have historically been more challenged by athletes not wanting to return in an effort to race for better teams.


  • On June 21, teams will announce the first 5 athletes that they will retain from their 2021 rosters.
  • On June 28, teams will announce up to 10 additional athletes that they will retain from their 2021 rosters. After that, there will be a public vote for a 16th athlete that each team will retain from their 2021 rosters.
  • On June 29, teams will draft the remainder of their rosters, with the lowest finishing teams from last year’s season getting advantageous draft positions.
  • Click here to read a more detailed description of the draft.

This group of “protected” athletes are not yet actually retained. Today’s lists show the athletes who have “confirmed their commitment to remain on their current team if selected by the team’s General Manager or if elected by the fans online, during the ISL Draft.” That means teams can essentially choose to retain athletes from these lists.

An athlete who doesn’t agree to stay with their team from last season will enter the draft pool as a rookie. Unretained athletes from this list will enter the draft pool as a veteran.

Among the interesting names being retained are Florent Manaudou with Energy Standard. While he’s been a fixture for this team, a very public breakup between his agent Jean-Francois Salessy and the club where he was the General Manager did create some risk that Manaudou might attempt to move on from the team next season.

We also ran through each team’s roster in the spring for a very early look at who each team should try to retain. You can read that story below:

Cali Condors Protected Swimmers

Cali Condors
Beata Nelson
Bowe Becker
Caeleb Dressel
Coleman Stewart
Eddie Wang
Erika Brown
Hali Flickinger
Justin Ress
Kacper Majchrzak
Kelsi Dahlia
Kevin Cordes
Khader Baqlah
Lilly King
Mallory Comerford
Marcin Cieslak
Mark Szaranek
Mitch Larkin
Molly Hannis
Natalie Hinds
Nic Fink
Olivia Smoliga
Radoslaw Kawecki
Sherridon Dressel
Tomas Peribonio
Townley Haas

Of note:

  • This pool includes pretty much all of Cali’s top scorers from last year, including league MVP Caeleb DresselThe highest 2020 scorer not included is Allison SchmittShe was the #78 overall scorer in the league last year, but is not among the 940 athletes registered for the 2021 season.
    • Another key swimmer not included is Melanie Margalisalso not registered for the league. She had the #3 time in the league last year in the 200 IM and 400 IM .
  • Australia’s Ariarne Titmus was a standout for Cali in 2019, but did not compete in 2020 along with many other top Australian competitors, who faced tough travel restrictions amid the pandemic. She was not among the 940 names registered as of last week, and also does not appear on this list.
    • Backstroker Mitch Larkin was named to the roster last year, but like Titmus did not compete. He’s on the protected list.
  • On the flip side, Clyde Lewis does appear on the league’s registration list but not on this list, suggesting he’ll enter the draft pool and not be retained by Cali.
  • Others not registered (at least, as of the 940-name list from last week): Gunnar Bentz, Meghan Small, Haley Anderson, Veronica Burchill, Kelly Fertel.
  • Lia Neal has retired. Tate Jackson appears to be no longer eligible due to a one-month suspension for THC.

Energy Standard Protected Swimmers

Energy Standard
Anastasiya Shkurdai
Andrei Zhilkin
Andrius Sidlauskas
Ben Proud
Benedetta Pilato
Chad Le Clos
Emily Seebohm
Evgeny Rylov
Felipe Lima
Femke Heemskerk
Florent Manaudou
Georgia Davies
Ilya Shymanovich
Imogen Clark
Ivan Girev
Kliment Kolesnikov
Kregor Zirk
Lucy Hope
Madeline Banic
Mary-Sophie Harvey
Max Litchfield
Maxim Stupin
Sarah Sjostrom
Sergey Shevtsov
Simonas Bilis
Siobhan Haughey
Tamara van Vliet
Viktoriya Gunes
Zsuzsanna Jakabos

Of note:

  • Once again, most of the top-scoring names return, including 2019 season MVP Sarah Sjostrom.
    • The highest-scoring swimmer from last year not returning to this roster is Danas Rapsysthe Lithuanian freestyler. Rapsys was the #53 overall scorer last year, but does not appear on the league registration list.
  • Italian world record-holder Benedetta Pilato is included on this list. That confirms that the ISL will allow at least some junior athletes, despite an earlier announcement that the league would be restricted to athletes age 18 and up. The now-16-year-old Pilato was one of the top performers for Energy Standard last year.

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3 months ago

Glad Pillato can still compete since she was already in ISL last season!!

Reply to  Hswimmer
3 months ago

It sounds like, contrary to the published rules, the ISL will allow under 18s to swim – they’ll just require special waivers and a guardian.

This isn’t the first time that an ISL publicly stated rule wasn’t quite precise in its description.

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

I asked on Instagram and they replied saying only the ones that are protected which seems kind of ridiculous if you ask me but you just knew Energy were not gonna be without Pilato.

Last edited 3 months ago by Troyy
Reply to  Troyy
3 months ago

Hmm. That’s not the same answer as we’ve gotten other places. There are a few juniors that weren’t in the league last year who are weighing their options.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out when the teams are announced, as usual.

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

comment image

3 months ago

I don’t think i realized the teams would be able to protect this many swimmers… this seems like too many to me but what do I know

Reply to  eagleswim
3 months ago

To be clear: this is the list of athletes a team can protect. They will have to narrow it to 15 + 1 from the fan vote.

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

ahhh that seems much better

Reply to  eagleswim
3 months ago

They wont all be protected this is just the pool they can protect swimmers from. Only 16 can be retained the rest will enter the overall draft pool. This is just so people who don’t want to be retained wont be forced to rejoin teams they don’t want to stay in.

3 months ago

This seems like really good news for London confirming the Aussies can be retained if Larkin can be. Their team – with the strong additions like Toussaint and Atkinson last year – and with picking before these two teams in the draft, is looking like an early favourite to make the 4 team final IMO.

3 months ago

I think recreational drugs shouldn’t count but oh well. Bummer for Tate

Reply to  Swimlikefishdrinklikefish
3 months ago

I think a lot of the ISL would agree with you. The problem is that every time you start to make an exception, you get closer and closer to having to institute a full doping control program. That’s expensive, time consuming, offers opportunities for black marks in accusations of corruption, and legally complex: all things that are not going to help the league get any closer to its goals of profitability.

The task is even more complex for the ISL because they wouldn’t be able to sign the World Anti-Doping Code, so they would truly have to build the system from scratch. (That’s because the CAS already has shot down the IOC’s attempt at ‘double jeopardy’ punishment for athletes –… Read more »

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

Well said Braden

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

Everything Braden said makes sense but it’s still completely absurd to me that THC use precludes someone from competing athletically in a professional league. Hopefully the other governing bodies come around eventually, which, based on your explanation, would translate to the ISL I think.

Last edited 3 months ago by THEO
3 months ago

This information is also pretty interesting because it kind of gives us a hint into who is planning on retiring post olympics. Although they could very much be switching teams, swimmers such as Schmitt and mergalis are more likely considering retirement.

Reply to  Swimmer
3 months ago

For sure – though we knew a lot of that already because of the Draft Registration pool that was published:

Reply to  Swimmer
3 months ago

I disagree. I think many will try for the money grab in late summer and early fall, then break and /or retire. I think many of these swimmers won’t be around at next Worlds!

3 months ago

That’s just criminal not letting Tate Jackson compete in ISL because he tested positive for THC…

3 months ago

Did anyone get how one “registers on the ISL online platform”? As part of the Draft rules, it says that this is a requirement in order to be eligible to vote for an additional swimmer to remain on one’s favorite team.

Reply to  Sylle
3 months ago

I’ve looked… didn’t find anything 🤷‍♀️
I don’t have Instagram or Twitter or any of that stuff, maybe you can do it through those?

Reply to  FST
3 months ago

I’ve asked on instagram now, let’s see!

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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