International Swimming League Power Rankings: Week 3

Our ISL Power Ranks are our best analysis of overall roster strength in the ISL format. As with our NCAA power ranks, these ranks are meant to be a snapshot in time, rather than an exact prediction of season finish order – that allows us to see more rising and falling among the teams, rather than seeing a more static ranking of our end-of-year predictions reframed each week.

The London Roar remained undefeated, and they’re surging back up our rankings after week 3.

Changes from last weeks ranks are listed in parentheses, with plus (+) showing a move up the ranks and minus (-) showing a move downward.

#1: Cali Condors (-)

No change for Cali over the bye week, though it’s worth noting that Energy Standard is surging. The Condors lost the top spot in the league in the women’s medley relay to the London Roar. That’s almost unthinkable, given Cali has never lost that relay head-to-head in league history, stretching back to last year. Here’s a look at splits from each team’s overall season-best:

Cali Condors (Match 1) London Roar (Match 5)
Olivia Smoliga 55.62 56.65 Kira Toussaint
Lilly King 1:04.07 1:04.42 Alia Atkinson
Kelsi Dahlia 55.97 55.74 Marie Wattel
Erika Brown 52.26 51.04 Freya Anderson
3:47.92 3:47.85

Cali obviously has some room to move up from that time – they had Natalie Hinds anchor in 52.0 in week 2 with a faster split from King. But #2 and #3 are much closer to Cali right now than they appeared to be after week 1.

In week 4, Cali will get a shot at revenge against #3 London, which beat Cali for second place in the league final last year.

#2: Energy Standard (-)

Energy Standard got Femke Heemskerk back and promptly lost Sarah SjostromAnd weirdly enough, Energy barely felt either absence. What really sets this roster apart is how deep it is across the relays and how Energy will pretty much have a title contender in every stroke of the skins. The rise of Anastasiya Shkurdai is massive – she covers for Sjostrom’s absence in the butterflys and the 100 IM.

Florent Manaudou also looks to be in terrific shape. After an awful week 1, Ben Proud quietly rebounded in relay-only duty last week and split 47.2 and 47.9. (He was 48.9 in week 1 and just 21.5 in the 50). Next week might give Proud another shot at individual racing, and he’s a key piece to their postseason hopes.

#3: London Roar (+2)

London surges up the board after beating LA and Tokyo decisively over the weekend. London has the league’s #2-scoring women’s roster, bolstered by sprint addition Freya AndersonThey also have the league’s #3-scoring men’s roster with one of the most well-rounded rosters.

London has not yet had an individual MVP winner this year, and only had one (Emma McKeon) last year. London’s schedule is brutal, but does offer a golden opportunity to keep rising in the ranks: London gets #1 Cali in each of the final two regular-season weeks with a pretty good blueprint to win: take the men’s medley and pit their backstroke strength against Cali’s weakest stroke (probably keeping Dressel on the bench). The women’s side will be a whole different ball game, with both teams having almost identical medley relays, but also favoring the same strokes (back, breast) for the skins.

#4: LA Current (-1)

LA dropped a tough matchup to London this week, but they get a bye week to recover and strategize before they get to rematch both London and Cali in the regular-season finale.

The Current have the league’s #1-scoring men’s roster, they’ve won a league-high four skins races and have tied Cali for a league-high two meet MVPs. They currently have the #2-ranked relay in the entire ISL in both men’s relays, the women’s free relay and the mixed free relay.

Pretty much locked into the postseason, LA really has two more goals for its final regular-season meet: taking the regular-season MVP (they currently have three of the top four scorers, though with the benefit of an extra meet, in #1 Beryl Gastaldello#2 Ryan Murphyand #4 Tom Shields) and figuring out their best breaststroke skins options with several top teams likely to pick breaststroke as the skin stroke in the postseason.

#5: Tokyo Frog Kings (-1)

Tokyo has had a brutally tough schedule so far. The good news? They won’t see the LA Current again until potentially the postseason. The bad news? They get the #1 Cali Condors and #3 London Roar next week as things just don’t let up for the Frog Kings.

Tokyo will have to hope a scrape with Dressel wakes up star sprinter Vladimir Morozovwho just hasn’t quite been himself this season. Another key matchup: league 200 fly leader and record-holder Suzuka Hasegawa against Hali Flickinger, who has never lost a 200 fly in ISL competition.

What’s great for Tokyo (and really for swimming as a whole) is that Kosuke Hagino is finally looking like himself again, maybe for the first time since the Rio Olympics. For those who remember how incredible Hagino’s peak was, his return to form is an exciting development for next summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

#6: Toronto Titans (+2)

We undersold Toronto hard last week. With the sample size doubled (this was just Toronto’s second ISL meet ever), the Titans are surging up our rankings. For now, we’ve got them ahead of Iron – the two teams swim head-to-head next week in a battle that should solidify the rankings some.

That matchup might come down to the skins, where both teams have really notable strengths (backstroke for Toronto, men’s breaststroke & women’s fly for Iron) that don’t really overlap. Toronto’s combo of Kylie Masse and Lisa Bratton has been outstanding in the backstrokes, winning five of their six backstroke events so far including 1-2s in both 200 backs and 1-3s in both 100 backs.

The key improvement Toronto needs, though, is men’s scoring. They’re currently 9th in the league in men’s scoring, averaging just 152 points per meet on the men’s side.

#7: Iron (-1)

Iron was on bye this week, but even without having to swim, they maintain the league leader in the men’s 50 breast (Emre Sakci) and women’s 50 fly (Ranomi Kromowidjojo).

Next week’s showdown with Toronto will be season-defining, even though both teams are probably locked into the postseason with only very slim hopes of making the final.

Iron does have a tough slate to close the year, though. They have Energy Standard in each of the final two weeks of the season, and if they lose to Toronto next week, they’ll head into the final week needing to upset Energy, Tokyo, or Toronto to avoid taking last-place.

#8: NY Breakers (-1)

The Breakers didn’t swim badly, but it was clear Toronto was the better team in week 3. Kasia Wasick continues to get faster, and she currently leads the ISL in the 50 free by almost two tenths of a second. Meanwhile Marco Koch continues to be the jackpot master, turning in a pretty impressive tally of overall points for a breaststroke specialist who really doesn’t swim much else, and even within breaststroke specializes in the 200.

New York has put itself in good shape to make the postseason – they’ve beaten both the DC Trident and Aqua Centurions head to head – and that’s a solid step for last year’s last-place finishers. The Breakers have had one skins finalist (Joe Litchfield) and three skins semifinalists (Michael Andrew twice and Alicia Tchorz once), and the big breakthrough for them would be getting a skins win in their regular-season finale next week.

#9: DC Trident (-)

DC has the league’s lowest-scoring men’s roster – and that’s pretty brutal when you have one of the league’s best overall swimmers in Zach AppleThe Trident have really struggled to fill out their butterfly spots, going 7th-8th four times, 6th-8th three times and 6th-7th once so far this year.

The highlights have been some of their young talent to potentially build around in future years, especially if impact swimmers like Katie Ledecky or Cody Miller can come back next year. Apple leads the league in the 100 free this season. Linnea Mack was a skins finalist, and DC has gotten Lindsey Kozelsky and Mark Nikolaev into skins semifinals.

#10: Aqua Centurions (-)

It’s the women’s roster that is holding the Aqua Centurions back, and that has a lot to do with how many impact swimmers withdrew from the league late amid the coronavirus pandemic. Without most of their expected Italian contingent, the Aqua Centurion women are averaging 70.5 points per meet. That’s less than half of what the next-worst team (DC at 152.3 per meet) is averaging on the women’s side.

For comparison, the Aqua Centurion men are actually the 5th-scoring men’s roster in the league, and haven’t lost a 4×100 freestyle relay yet this year. That relay also won once in 2019 and has never finished lower than 3rd in ISL history. That’s a key strength to build around.

Szebaztian Szabo has been awesome, with the league’s best 50 fly time by four tenths of a second. He was a skins finalist this past week, Aqua’s first skins finalist of the season.


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2 years ago

Haughey is so underhyped.

Reply to  Jackman
2 years ago

She’s turned into quite the monster.

Tommy Elliot
2 years ago

It’s still early but I am going to go out on a limb with my predictions for top-8 teams after the round robin matches in the following order: Cali – 16 points; Energy – 15 points; London – 13 points; LA – 12 points; Toronto/Tokyo (tie) – 10 points; Iron – 9 points; DC – 8 points. I see New York with 5 points and Aqua Centurions with 4 points not getting to the post season. What will be very interesting is how they decide (still no news?) who gets into which semi-final? It doesn’t sound like they are going to use a standard 1-8-3-6 and 2-7-4-5 format to spread the teams between the two matches but if they did… Read more »

Reply to  Tommy Elliot
2 years ago

Something has to be wrong with DC points . Their only chance to finish with 8 points is to win their last match which is rather impossible to happen.
Also New York already have 4 points so they’ll end up with at least 5.
Most possible scenario is that Breakers and DC will be tied 8th with 5 points. Anything else will be a huge surprise for me.

Last edited 2 years ago by iceman
Reply to  iceman
2 years ago

I also can´t see how London would have 13 points only..

Reply to  Rafael
2 years ago

London draws Cali in their last 2 matches.

London currently has 8 points with 2 matches remaining. So if they’re 2nd in their next match (behind Cali, ahead of Tokyo & NY) that gives them 11. In their last match, they’ll be 2nd or 3rd depending on the order between them and LA, which would leave them with 14 or 13 points, respectively.

This all assumes none of the coaches get ‘cute’ and screw around with their lineups knowing they’re safely through to the semi-finals. For example, if they seed semi-finals 1-4-5-8 (snake order), there could be a benefit to sloughing a match and finish 6th rather than 5th.

Of course if this happens, next year we’ll see a… Read more »

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

I don’t actually think there’s any benefit to getting a lower place in snake seeding, unless it’s getting third instead of second. If we assume 1 is Cali and 2 is energy then 3-4-5 are London LA Tokyo probably in that order. London wants to get third because then they don’t have to contend with either LA or Tokyo to make finals and they can probably easily beat 6th place Toronto based on results of match 3. They wouldn’t want to get second though because then they race both 4th and 5th, but I think Energy will be second anyway. Tokyo wouldn’t want to be 6th unless they think London is easier to beat than LA and I don’t see… Read more »

Reply to  Hannah
2 years ago

Toronto is dangerous, lets leave it at that. They were far better in match 2 than their first match. Sign of improvement and perhaps peaking at the right time.

Reply to  iceman
2 years ago

My calculation is also wrong. Breakers have 5 points, not 4 as I say above so they will end up with at least 6 and will be ahead of DC.

Reply to  iceman
2 years ago

New York already have 5 points*, so they can’t finish with fewer than 6.

Breakers will almost definitely be 4th in their last meet, so they’re likely to have 6.

DC has 1 meet left, where they are also likely to finish last (though they have a better shot at 3rd than the Breakers do in their final meet). A last place finish for DC in their last meet leaves them with 5 points, and out.

Nothing’s set in stone, there’s always surprises, but DC and Aqua are probably out.

Chris B
Reply to  Tommy Elliot
2 years ago

Think the maths is out somewhere here – New York can’t score below 6 points (ignoring forfeiting their final meet) and DC would need to win their final meet to end up with 8 points (which doesn’t work with your other predictions).

Iron are probably the team I’m struggling to rate most at this point they’re two second places feel misleading compared to Toronto/Tokyo’s results – thinks they’ve definitely benefited from the draw.

Agree entirely how semi finals are allocated will be key – Tokyo clearly have some very big strengths and Toronto’s strength on the women’s back could put a spanner in the works for some teams (e.g. London). Ultimately though, I’m not sure I can see a scenario… Read more »

Tommy Elliot
Reply to  Chris B
2 years ago

Sorry everyone – can’t read my own writing! Too many scribbles!!! Cali should win their last 2 matches and so should Energy. With only 1 match left for each NY & DC – I can’t see them finishing anywhere other than 4th in their respective matches for both of them: New York end up with 6 points & DC end up with 5 points at the end of the day! CC-16; ES-15; LR-13; LAC-12; TT/TFK-10; IR-9; NY-6. Leaving out of the semi’s DC-5 points and AC-4 points.

2 years ago

Also for Energy, Kolesnikov was better in the second meet, good sign.

2 years ago

Aqua men are quietly having a nice season, with tremendous sprint freestyle depth. I wish we could see them in the postseason.

2 years ago

Chiereghinni + Szabo + Mirassi is a pretty strong trio.. they just lack a good backstroker there.

2 years ago

Justin Ress and Coleman Stewart make up a pretty strong Cali backstroke group, pretty sure a skins match between them and London could go either way

Reply to  yrwydt
2 years ago

Against Guido? they can even be jackpot by Guido

Last edited 2 years ago by Rafael
Reply to  yrwydt
2 years ago

There both sneaky good but not as good as guido. But hypothetically there are few situations that come down to a match between London and Cali being decided by the men’s backstroke skins. Cali women are to strong to let that happen but at best Coleman and ress shouldn’t get jack-potted and should make it to the semis which hypothetically would be enough to save a match.

Reply to  Swammer
2 years ago

consider finals.. LAC + CAC + LONDON + ENS

Manadou Rylov Guido Diener Murphy Ress Stewart, big chance of not going into semis.

And next week..

Guido/Diener, Irie/Kawamoto and Lichtfield.. they can be shut out of semis..

And coming to skins is possible as Tokyo girls are pretty strong also

Last edited 2 years ago by Rafael

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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