ISL Depth Charts: Caeleb Dressel Will Only Swim Portion of ISL Regular Season

The Cali Condors, ISL’s reigning champion team champion, have confirmed their 33-athlete roster for the 2021 ISL Season in Naples, Italy. The Cali Condors have retained 20 of their athletes from the 2020 ISL season, including ISL MVP Caeleb Dressel, who scored 463.5 points for the Condors throughout the season.

Of note, several of the team’s biggest American stars will only be partial participants in the 2021 regular season: Caeleb DresselEmily EscobedoNic FinkNatalie Hinds, and Olivia Smoliga are expected to race in the regular season, but are expected to miss portions of the regular season according to Condors management.

Escobedo, for example, is getting married in September, and so will miss a portion of the season for her nuptials.

Other big names will miss the regular season: Olympic bronze medalist in the 200 fly and 400 IM Hali Flickinger will miss the regular season, as will 200 breakout swimmer Eddie Wang and Russian Aleksandr Krasnykh. Flickinger, Wang, and Krasnykh are expected to join the team for the ISL Playoffs.

Women’s Roster (Regular Season)

Erika Brown
Kelsi Dahlia
Kathrin Demler
Maaike de Waard
Sherridon Dressel
*Emily Escobedo
Molly Hannis
*Natalie Hinds
Lilly King
Leonie Kullman
Beata Nelson
Marie Pietruschka
Katerine Savard
*Olivia Smoliga
Anastasia Sorokina

Men’s Roster (Regular Season)

Khader Baqlah
Marcin Cieslak
Kevin Cordes
*Caeleb Dressel
*Nic Fink
Townley Haas
Oleg Kostin
Kacper Majchrzak
Angel Martinez
Tomas Peribonio
Jesse Puts
Justin Ress
Coleman Stewart
Mark Szaranek
Brodie Williams

Although the Condors plan to send 33 athletes to Naples for the regular season, each team is only allowed 28 athletes on a roster per meet (including 2-per-gender who can only swim relays). The Cali Condors will compete in the following four regular season matches during the 2021 ISL Season:

  • Match 2: August 28th-29th vs. LAC, TOK, NYB
  • Match 4: September 4th-5th vs. LAC, DCT, AQC
  • Match 6: September 11th-12th vs. LON, TOK, AQC
  • Match 7: September 16th-17th vs. IRO, TOR, NYB

*Notably, the Cali Condors won’t face off against Energy Standard during the regular season.

2021 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.

STRENGTHS

On the women’s side, the Condors look to continue their female breaststroke dominance. Lilly King and Molly Hannis have been integral parts of the Condors success, as they’ve consistently topped the fields in both the 50 and 100-meter breaststroke events. They’ve also played key roles on the Condor’s medley relays and breaststroke skins events. Although Hannis qualified for the 2016 US Olympic Team in the 200-meter breaststroke, she’s excelled in the 50 and 100-meter breaststrokes in the ISL short course meters format. The Condors have also added Emily Escobedo, who was ranked 4th overall in ISL rankings for the 200-meter breaststroke event following the conclusion of the 2020 season. With the addition of Escobedo, the Condors have the ability to score big points across all three breaststroke distances.

Marcin Cieslak had an outstanding meet at the 2020 SCM Polish Championships, dropping new personal bests in the 50 freestyle (22.55), 100 freestyle (46.79), and 50 butterfly (20.08). His time in the 50 butterfly established himself as the ninth fastest all-time performer in the event and would’ve won the ISL Final. His time in the 100 freestyle will add to the Condor’s potential on their freestyle relay. Cieslak and Dressel finished 1-2 in the 100 IM at the 2020 ISL Finals. Cieslak adds to a strong list of sprint butterfliers for the Condors, which includes Dressel, Oleg Kostin, Kacper Majchrzak, and Justin Ress.

Although the Condors lost some of their top performers, they’ve picked up athletes that show true potential. Jesse Puts will make an immediate impact towards the Condors sprint squad. Puts boasts best times of 21.05 and 47.14 in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle events. His 100 freestyle time was achieved this past April at the Speedo Fast Water Meet.

The Condors have the depth to vie for skins titles in any of the four strokes. On the men’s side, Caeleb Dressel has demonstrated that he’s a favorite in the freestyle and butterfly skins, and proved to us last season that he has potential to compete in the breaststroke skins, if needed. Justin Ress and Marcin Cieslak are excellent #2 spots behind Dressel in the freestyle and butterfly skins, respectively. Ress and Coleman Stewart own personal bests fast enough that make themselves legitimate threats in the backstroke skins race. On the women’s side, Olivia Smoliga, Lilly King, and Kelsi Dahlia have been dominant whenever they’ve been selected to represent the Condors in a skins event.

CONTIGENT STRENGTHS

When the Condors released their Naples lineup, there were five athletes that were listed as “partially” competing: Caeleb Dressel, Emily Escobedo, Nic Fink, Natalie Hinds, and Olivia Smoliga. The strength of the team is dependent on how much of the season each of these five athletes will miss. It’s important to note that Dressel, Fink, Hinds, and Smoliga recently competed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games last month. Without them, the Condors will struggle to place at the top in both individual and relay races.

The Condors have had two respectable male breaststrokers for the past two ISL seasons in Nic Fink and Kevin Cordes. Fink and Cordes represented the Condors in the 100 and 200-meter breaststrokes at the ISL Finals. Fink, a 2020 USA Olympian, recently finished fifth in the 200-meter breaststroke at the Tokyo Games. The Condors look to strengthen their depth in the breaststroke events with the addition of Oleg Kostin. Kostin is an ISL rookie and his SCM breaststroke times are fairly old, but if can be near his personal best times (25.90/56.16/2:02.38) he will be an immediate threat to his competitors. The 100 breaststroke field is deep with Adam Peaty and Ilya Shymanovich leading the pack, so Cali’s male breaststrokers will have to consistently perform at their best.

On the women’s side, there are 5 female athletes on the Condors that boast a personal best of 26.6 or faster in the 50-meter backstroke: Olivia Smoliga (25.74), Maaike de Waard (26.17), Beata Nelson (26.55), Sherridon Dressel (26.55), and Erika Brown (26.62). Smoliga (55.60) and Nelson (56.29) are the only two who are viable threats in the 100-meter distance, but there is potential in the other three athletes to improve their 100-meter backstrokes. The depth in this 50-meter event also plays an essential role in the skins event.

WEAKNESSES

There are prominent names that aren’t on this season’s lineup for the Cali Condors. Cali has lost key contributors Melanie Margalis, Allison Schmitt, Gunnar Bentz, Mitch Larkin, Haley Anderson, Ariarne Titmus, Lia Neal, and Tate Jackson. All of these listed athletes played important roles for the Condors in multiple individual events and/or relays. There are clearly weaknesses in all the events that these athletes previously filled, so the Condors will have to rely on their transfer and rookie athletes to step up in a big way.

There was another notable component to the Naples lineup, which had Hali Flickinger, Aleksandr Krasnykh, and Eddie Wang on the list, but their names were not checked in the “competing” box. Hali Flickinger is coming off two individual bronze medals in the 200-meter butterfly and the 400-meter IM at the Tokyo Games. Flickinger is one of the most versatile athletes in the world, as she’s competed at a high level in freestyle, butterfly, backstroke, and IM events. Although the Condors can still rely on Dahlia, Savard, and Demler, Flickinger has always been reliable in-season. Aleksandr Krasnykh would’ve been a major threat in the middle distance freestyle events. Although Krasnykh’s best time in the 400-meter (SCM) freestyle is from 2016, his time of 3:35.30 would’ve won the ISL final. In addition, he’s great at the 200 freestyle, as he’s won SC Worlds and has medaled individually in both SC and LC World Championships. The Condors do have Townley Haas, but don’t have a solid second middle-distance athlete. Eddie Wang excelled in the 200-meter butterfly during the 2020 ISL season, breaking the World Junior Record three times during the ISL season and establishing himself as the #8 all-time performer in the event. With Wang out for the regular season, the Condors have lost both of their top-2 200 flyers, Gunnar Bentz and Wang.

The Cali Condors were unable to add a new female sprint star to their 2021 roster, specifically in the 100-meter freestyle for relay purposes. The Condors retained Smoliga, Brown, and Hinds, but lost key relay leg Allison Schmitt. At the 202o ISL Finals, Schmitt split 52.03 and 52.25 on her freestyle legs for the Condors. Cali will most likely rely on Kelsi Dahlia, who has a personal best of 52.46. Cali could’ve also used a sprint freestyle star for the skins races, as the freestyle skins is the weakest link for the Condors.

OUTLOOK

There is reassurance in the consistency of the Condors. The Condors will return 20 of their athletes from last season’s winning roster. The Cali Condors have retained five crucial athletes that combined to win 13 individual titles at the 2020 ISL Final: Caeleb Dressel (50/100 fly, 50/100 free, 100 IM), Hali Flickinger (200 fly, 400 free), Lilly King (50/100/200 breast, plus the breaststroke skins), and Olivia Smoliga (50/100 back). Individual and relay performances from these athletes earned Cali 271 points, which was nearly half of the team’s overall point total. The Condors will rely heavily on these five athletes to place in the top of their events and to score as many jackpot points as possible. The Cali Condors are also bringing back their entire women’s 400-meter medley relay from last season. The quartet of Olivia Smoliga, Lilly King, Kelsi Dahlia, and Erika Brown won the ISL Final and smashed the World Record in 3:44.52.

The Cali Condors have also added some prospects that look to score big points for the team. Maaike de Waard, Oleg Kostin, Leonie Kullman, Jose “Angel” Martinez, Marie Pietruschka, Jesse Puts, Katerine Savard, Anastasia Sorokina, and Brodie Williams will all help to fill the holes in the roster.

The Cali Condors have retained General Manager Jason Lezak for the 2021 ISL Season, and Jeff Julian will rejoin the Condors as Head Coach after missing the 2020 season when he was hospitalized with adenocarcinoma. The Condors have also retained assistant coaches Sean Schimmel and Brian Schrader, and have added Bobby Brewer to the staff for the 2021 season.

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mamaswim
1 year ago

I’m sure Katerine Savard should be in consideration for the free relay as she’s doing 53 in the 100 free. She’s also 56.1 in the 100fly btw.

Last edited 1 year ago by mamaswim
Tyson
1 year ago

They needed a bigger gap between olympics and ISL, a few swimmers will not do the whole season because of how close the turnaround is

Pvdh
1 year ago

Dude secured an absolute bag to set him up for life with his Olympics. Wouldn’t be surprised if he de-prioritizes isl completely

Redhawk
Reply to  Pvdh
1 year ago

An extra $300k to get some race practice in while staying in Italy isn’t the worst priority to have tho

Troyy
1 year ago

I guess with the team name not even mentioned in the title it’s just team Dressel now?

CY~
Reply to  Troyy
1 year ago

Sounds about right 😂

Xman
1 year ago

Are they touring this year with spectator seating?

Admin
Reply to  Xman
1 year ago

No tour. Regular season in Italy, Playoffs/Final in Netherlands. For now, they’re allowing spectators.

Oldmanswimmer
1 year ago

Nice analysis. Darn that autocorrect. Paragraph 4 under strengths: “respectfully” should be “respectively.” I enjoyed reading this and am looking forward to the new season!

Chineeese boy
1 year ago

This man deserves a long break, he will show up at the playoffs

monsterbasher
Reply to  Chineeese boy
1 year ago

Activate LeCaeleb playoff mode. Gonna be lazy defense for the rest of the regular ISL season  🤧

Mr Piano
1 year ago

Dressel isn’t even gonna get back into the pool until ISL finals and he’ll go super saiyan

McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
Reply to  Mr Piano
1 year ago

is that still allowed? I thought that changed after seto debuted in the 2019 final and broke lochte’s 400 im wr. or maybe not because he swam for energy standard…

Admin
Reply to  McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
1 year ago

We are definitely expecting a lot of athletes to swoop in for semis/finals.

Whether it’s allowed or not is almost irrelevant. The rules in this league are somewhere between “fluid” and “gelatinous” at all times.