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.
Changes from last weeks ranks are listed in parentheses, with plus (+) showing a move up the ranks and minus (-) showing a move downward.
#1: Energy Standard (+1)
Energy lost by more than a hundred points to Cali in the opening week. So how have they retaken the #1 spot? It’s a combination of a number of factors. Most notable is Cali’s loss of Melanie Margalis, which we look at in more detail below. But Energy has some of its own improvements. Femke Heemskerk is back and swimming great after missing the season opener. Kliment Kolesnikov is swimming significantly better than he did in week 1, and is in prime position to take advantage of the non-Dressel men’s events in Cali’s lineup. Anastasiya Shkurdai and Maddy Banic have risen rapidly, allowing Sarah Sjostrom to take a lighter individual event load and absolutely load up the Energy relays.
It appears Energy will also get a pretty easy path to the final, continuing their soft schedule.
#2: Cali Condors (-1)
The loss of Melanie Margalis is massive. Heading into week 5, Margalis was the #30 overall scorer in the entire league – and that’s with zero relays and zero skin races swum this year. Margalis was unbeaten in the 200 IM and 400 IM so far this season. In Cali’s season-opening win over Energy Standard, Margalis scored a whopping 52 points, playing on one of Energy’s few weak lineup spots. Margalis’s three wins that week (200 IM, 400 IM, 400 free) all came with big jackpot boosts, making the point swing for her absence even bigger.
One big race that might sting the Condors: the 400 free. Margalis has the league’s best time this year. But second is Energy’s Siobhan Haughey. That means that not only could Energy win an event in Margalis’s absence, they could earn some key jackpot points to boot.
#3: LA Current (+1)
It’s still very much a toss-up between the LA Current and the London Roar. And by all accounts, both teams should probably make the final unless Tokyo can pull a massive upset in a semi. In the meantime, LA has to get credit for a dominating win over London in match 10.
The Current men haven’t lost a medley relay yet this year, and they’ve maximized that advantage by setting up Ryan Murphy to consistently dunk on every other backstroker in the league in the skins.
The top two American franchises really face the inverse of the same problem. Cali’s women blow out everyone in the league, but their men are thin beyond one star. LA’s men are as good as any other men’s roster in the league, but their women are relatively thin outside of Beryl Gastaldello and Abbey Weitzeil.
#4: London Roar (-1)
London swam without star Adam Peaty in the regular season finale, so it’s hard to read a lot into their lackluster performances. The Roar were already locked into the postseason and didn’t need to expend a lot of physical or emotional energy this week. Maybe their decision to slow-play week 5 will have the team looking really fresh come the postseason.
One big question will be whether London can get by Cali or Energy Standard in the medley relay. They’ve put together some quick relays so far this year, and they have a clear-cut advantage in freestyle, which is probably Cali’s weakest leg. Freya Anderson split 50.7 this weekend, which can probably just about match anything Energy throws down while eating up a good amount of ground on Cali.
London also needs its backstrokers to catch fire again. The men’s skins have a high likelihood of trending towards the backstrokes throughout the postseason, given LA’s and Energy’s strengths in that stroke and every team’s shared desire to avoid Caeleb Dressel. So if Christian Diener and Guilherme Guido can return to the form they were showing early in the year, this team has a real chance to contend for a top two finish overall.
#5: Tokyo Frog Kings (-)
Tokyo remains outstanding in the IMs, where Yui Ohashi and Kosuke Hagino completed undefeated rookie years in the 400 IM. Leah Smith also finished the year unbeaten in the 400 free. Unfortunately, none of those events have relay or skins impact, and that’s basically what’s holding the Frog Kings back for the time being.
Keep an eye on Vladimir Morozov, because it’s possible some rest really unlocks his game-breaking ability for the semifinals. (He didn’t compete in match #9).
Also worth noting: Natsumi Sakai has been an unheralded workhorse for this team so far, taking on brutal event lineup and effectively carrying the women’s sprint group. She actually sits #3 in the league this year in the 50 back. Tokyo might have to hope that London wins the medley relay and picks backstroke, allowing Sakai to upset Toussaint for a massive point swing near the end of a semifinal.
Iron had a fighting chance at the #4 overall seed into the postseason – but that speaks more to their schedule than their chances at making the league final. If Iron is usually forged in fire, this team was forged in something much cooler, with four total matchups with the league’s two non-playoff teams.
That’s not to say Iron hasn’t earned its playoff berth, though. Emre Sakci has been one of the league’s most exciting rookies and leads the ISL ranks in the 50 breaststroke by a huge margin. Iron’s presence should be very impactful in the postseason – in part because their top-end talent will affect how other teams pick the skins.
No team really even has the option of picking the women’s 50 fly for a skins race – that’s because Iron has the top two swimmers in the league this year and look totally dominant. Meanwhile any men’s team considering breaststroke will have to contend with Sakci, who beat Energy Standard in the skins in week 4, the first time a team picking the skins stroke failed to win the skin race.
#7: Toronto Titans (-)
Toronto had back-to-back shots at taking the 6th spot away from Iron, but couldn’t close the deal either time. The Titans have some key strengths, like women’s backstroke, but haven’t quite been able to build out their roster across all strokes.
Women’s backstroke seems a likely choice to come up as a skins option – in part because almost every playoff team has a good women’s backstroker and no one really knows who the league’s top skins threat is there. We’ve seen three different women win the backstroke skins, including Toronto’s Kylie Masse. Masse has been a little inconsistent this season, but if she can get back to the 26.1 she threw down in the first round of the skins in match 6, she’s got the potential to wreak havoc in the postseason.
#8: NY Breakers (-)
The Breakers will make the postseason after finishing dead last in the league last year. They’ve uncovered several breakout stars, including league 50 free leader Kasia Wasick, ISL record-holding breaststroker Marco Koch and IMer Abbie Wood, who actually moved up to become the league’s fastest active IMer over the Breakers bye week with the withdrawal of league-leader Melanie Margalis.
Wasick is .01 off of the ISL record in the 50 free, which would be a big postseason storyline for the Breakers. If Energy Standard continues to lean towards the freestyle skins, Wasick could have a chance at a major postseason scoring opportunity, provided the Breakers end up in a semifinal with Energy Standard.
#9: DC Trident (-)
A week 5 bye effectively ended the Trident’s season before anyone else’s. That’s a shame, because we got used to watching Zach Apple scorch the field several times a meet, often while carrying entire Trident relays on his back.
DC also ends the year ranked #5 in the league in the mixed free relay, a good piece to build around for the future.
#10: Aqua Centurions (-)
The Aqua Centurion men lost their first free relay of the year in week 5, but they finish the regular season as the league leaders and ISL record-holders there. Szebaztian Szabo finishes the year undefeated in the 50 fly, even beating the standout Dressel in the regular season finale.
The addition of Federica Pellegrini didn’t do a lot for Aqua’s scoring in week 5, but they did get stuck with a very brutal grouping in the regular-season finale. With the way Italy continues to rise as an international swimming power, the Aqua Centurions should be a very sneaky team to watch for next season – if they get the bulk of their Italian talent back, Aqua could make a major run up the ranks next year.