The Cali Condors have announced 2016 Olympian Khader Baqlah as their newest addition to their 2020 International Swimming League roster. Baqlah becomes one of many former NCAA swimmers to make the transition to the league and to professional swimmer status after completing his NCAA eligibility in the spring.
Baqlah swam at the University of Florida from 2016 until 2020 and ended his collegiate career as the 2020 SEC Champion in both the 200 freestyle and 4×200 freestyle relay. As the most recent Condor, he joins a roster made up almost entirely former NCAA athletes, including fellow Florida graduates Marcin Cieslak, Sherridon Dressel, Kelly Fertel, Caeleb Dressel, and Natalie Hinds.
Career-Best Times at Florida
|Event||SCY||Converted to SCM|
|1,000 Free / 800 Free||9:02.71||7:54.87|
Back in 2015 Baqlah took part in a FINA Scholarship Program in Thanyapura, Thailand. The was camp designed to allow young aspiring swimmers to train in an elite international setting, and aim for Olympic qualifying times for Rio 2016. Baqlah went on to qualify or the Games, swimming the 200 freestyle and finishing 31st with a 1:48.42.
Baqlah is one of three recent additions, including returning Condors Bowen Becker and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Haley Anderson. Baqlah, Becker, and Anderson will be important additions to the Condors given the recent news from General Manager Jason Lezak that the Condor’s entire Australian contingent will not be participating in the 2020 season due to COVID-19 restrictions.
On the men’s side, that will mean the removal of Jack Cartwright, Mitch Larkin, and Clyde Lewis from the roster. Baqlah will be a replacement for freestylers Cartwright and Lewis and will be a potential addition to the 4×200 freestyle relay in the Aussie’s absence.
For the women that will mean losing returning Condor Ariarne Titmus who was a key player in the team’s third-place finish last year, winning the 400 freestyle at the 2019 Las Vegas finale. It will also mean the loss of Aussie sprinter Meg Harris who was set to race for the Condors in her first ISL season.
The addition of Baqlah to the roster brings the Cali Condors men up to 15, with room for one more addition to hit the 16 swimmers per gender quota. With Australian women, Titmus and Harris out and Anderson in, the women’s roster also currently sits at 15 with 1 additional spot left to be filled.
UPDATED CONDORS ROSTER (WITH AUSTRALIANS’ WITHDRAWS)
- Olivia Smoliga
- Lilly King
- Kelsi Dahlia
- Melanie Margalis
- Mallory Comerford
- Hali Flickinger
- Molly Hannis
- Natalie Hinds
- Beata Nelson
- Erika Brown
- Meghan Small
- Kelly Fertel
- Veronica Burchill
- Sherridon Dressel
- Haley Anderson