INTERNATIONAL SWIMMING LEAGUE 2020: CALI CONDORS
- 2019 finish: 3rd
- 2019 MVP: Caeleb Dressel (240 MVP points)
|1||Olivia Smoliga||Caeleb Dressel|
|2||Lilly King||Nic Fink|
|3||Kelsi Dahlia||Justin Ress|
|4||Melanie Margalis||Kacper Majchrzak|
|5||Hali Flickinger||Gunnar Bentz|
|6||Molly Hannis||Radoslaw Kawecki|
|7||Natalie Hinds||Mark Szaranek|
|8||Beata Nelson||Kevin Cordes|
|9||Erika Brown||Townley Haas|
|10||Meghan Small||Tate Jackson|
|11||Kelly Fertel||Coleman Stewart|
|12||Veronica Burchill||Marcin Cieslak|
|13||Sherridon Dressel||Eddie Wang|
|14||Haley Anderson||Khader Baqlah|
|15||Allison Schmitt||Bowe Becker|
|16||Lia Neal||Tomas Peribonio|
2020 Depth Charts
Our depth charts are equal parts research and prognostication. While most of our ordering is based around best times on record, we’ve also done some guesswork based on time conversions from short course yards and/or long course meters, or in cases where athletes don’t have recent results in a specific event. These depth charts are intended to show the top options for each event, even if the specific event lineup may prevent a top swimmer from entering all of the events where they rank in the top two.
Potential skin races are shown in blue, and the events with relay considerations in red.
Like the LA Current (which we profiled yesterday), the Cali Condors are built around elite butterflyers.
On the men’s side, it’s Caeleb Dressel, who is kind of a one-man wrecking crew in the ISL format. Dressel should dominate sprint free and sprint fly, and is a massive skin race weapon in any stroke.
But while Dressel is clearly the biggest name on the roster, the Condors were carried by their women’s roster last year. The Condor women outscored all other teams by almost 60 points, and return most of their stars. They’re also clustered in butterfly, where Kelsi Dahlia was arguably the top 100 flyer in the league last year (she had the top time in the league overall, plus four of the stop six swims) and Hali Flickinger arguably the top 200 flyer (the top ISL time and two of the top three swims).
The women’s roster is stellar in breaststroke, where Lilly King is easily the top breaststroker in the league and Molly Hannis also one of the top sprinters. In fact, King and Hannis combined for the six fastest 50 breast swims in the entire league last season.
Women’s IM should be yet another strength. Melanie Margalis is an elite IMer, and NCAA addition Beata Nelson should star in the 100 and 200 IMs.
As weird as it is to say on a team with Dressel, the men’s sprints are actually somewhat thin. Dressel is going to cover over that weakness quite well by potentially winning the 50 and 100 frees everytime he swims, but it’s worth looking back at last year’s finale where Cali went 1st-7th in the 50 free, 1st-8th in the 100 free, 2nd-7th in the 400 free relay and then 1st-8th in the skin race.
Men’s backstrokes take a hit with Mitch Larkin withdrawing in the mass Australian exodus. (He’s still a potential postseason swimmer, though). Cali will have to rely on NCAA pickup Coleman Stewart to keep the backstrokes and the medley relays afloat.
Losing Larkin and Clyde Lewis is also a bad blow for the IMs. Adding Gunnar Bentz from Iron helps, but doesn’t fully replace those two on the depth charts.
If the women are weak anywhere, it’s freestyle, where Ariarne Titmus bowed out with Larkin/Lewis, and Mallory Comerford also withdrew from the league. That comprises the team’s top two 200 freestylers, and will probably leave Margalis and/or Flickinger pulling 400 free duty and forcing Allison Schmitt to step up in the 200.
Free: Dressel is an elite-level weapon here. Cali struggled with the women’s skin races last year, but Erika Brown has a lot of upside, and the field really clears out with the Australians (including the Campbell sisters and Emma McKeon) out of commission.
Back: The men will be reeling some with the loss of Larkin, though Coleman Stewart (20.6 in short course yards) has huge potential. Olivia Smoliga is a really good 50 backstroker, and the backstroke skin race is a big boost to her contributions.
Breast: King is outstanding, and Cali has a real shot to stack the final with her and Hannis. (That means winning the women’s medley relay could be a gigantic swing for Cali anytime they can do it – they went 4-for-4 in that relay last year and return the three key non-free legs). Nic Fink was very good last year, going 25.7, and should be a potential finalist most weeks.
Fly: Again, we get to see Dressel’s strengths on full display. For the women, Dahlia was top-4 in all of her 50 fly swims last year and should be among the better entrants.
Cali has a pretty easy-to-see roadmap for success. Their strength in the women’s medley allows them to maximize their dominance in women’s breaststroke, and to save their top women’s 100 IMers from having to double with the skin event.
Meanwhile Dressel allows them to have a fighting chance in two of the four skin races. That’s important because the Cali men never won a medley relay last year and may not often be in a position to choose the stroke for the men’s skin race.
The Condors should be in good shape to once again lead the league in scoring by their women. The men will really have to keep pace, though, without requiring Dressel to overextend his lineup. We mentioned it with Vladimir Morozov last week, but Dressel faces the disadvantage of being the team’s top skin entrant, but also its most exciting 100 IMer, and that double late in the meet will be brutal.
A lot of Cali’s hopes probably rely on whether they got the best NCAA prospects. Brown and Nelson look like impact additions, but it all depends on whether Brown can best Weitzeil, her NCAA-to-ISL counterpart for LA. Meanwhile Stewart joins a position of great need for the Cali men, but will have to fight off a tough leaguewide backstroke field.
All-in-all, the women’s roster is too stacked and Dressel too incredibly overpowered (especially with the new jackpot rules) for this team to miss the postseason unless things go dramatically wrong. They’ve probably got an avenue to pass up London for second place, though a full-strength London team (if the Australians can return for the postseason) is still a tough sell for Cali to beat.