ISL Protection Lists: DC Can Retain Miller/Litherland, AQC Adds Ceccon & Grinev

The DC Trident can retain key members of their 2019 roster who sat out 2020, while the Aqua Centurions re-added Vladislav Grinev from 2019 and can ‘retain’ impact rookie Thomas Ceccon.

What does the ‘Protected List’ Mean?

This week, the ISL will be announcing each team’s “protected” athletes: effectively, the pool from which each team will be retaining athletes as part of the draft process. To be clear: these are not the lists of athletes that a team will protect; rather, it is the group from which the team will choose up to 15 to protect, and from which fans will pick 1 additional swimmer to protect.

That means the new information will tell us two big things: which athletes have declined or refused to return to their former teams (which is something the league is, apparently, allowing), and which athletes are being given special exceptions after skipping the 2020 season and being allowed to return to their 2019 teams. Also excluded are athletes who didn’t register for the 2021 ISL season.


  • On June 21, teams will announce the first 5 athletes that they will retain from their 2021 rosters.
  • On June 28, teams will announce up to 10 additional athletes that they will retain from their 2021 rosters. After that, there will be a public vote for a 16th athlete that each team will retain from their 2021 rosters.
  • On June 29, teams will draft the remainder of their rosters, with the lowest finishing teams from last year’s season getting advantageous draft positions.
  • Click here to read a more detailed description of the draft.

This group of “protected” athletes are not yet actually retained. Today’s lists show the athletes who have “confirmed their commitment to remain on their current team if selected by the team’s General Manager or if elected by the fans online, during the ISL Draft.” That means teams can essentially choose to retain athletes from these lists.

An athlete who doesn’t agree to stay with their team from last season will enter the draft pool as a rookie. Unretained athletes from this list will enter the draft pool as a veteran.

We also ran through each team’s roster in the spring for a very early look at who each team should try to retain. You can read that story below:

DC Trident Protected Swimmers

Abrahm DeVine
Annika Bruhn
Bailey Andison
Brianna Throssell
Cody Miller
Drew Loy
Jacob Pebley
Jay Litherland
Kathrin Demler
Leah Gingrich
Leah Neale
Leiston Pickett
Linnea Mack
Madison Kennedy
Mark Nikolaev
Matheus Santana
Meiron Cheruti
Miranda Tucker
Mohamed Samy
Rozaliya Nasretdinova
Ting Quah
Tommy Cope
Tristan Hollard
Velimir Stjepanovic
Zach Apple
Zach Harting
Zane Grothe


  • DC had a number of 2020 roster members not register for the league in 2021 – but they supplemented by bringing back a lot of 2019 roster members who didn’t compete in 2020.
  • Members of last year’s roster who didn’t register for the league this season: Amy Bilquist, Bethany Galat, Ian Finnerty, Ky-Lee Perry, Margo Geer, Robert Howard, Ali Galyer, Conner McHugh, Emma Barksdale, Giles Smith, Remedy Rule. 
  • 2019 DC Trident members who didn’t compete in 2020, but registered for 2021 and remain part of the DC protection pool: Cody Miller, Jay Litherland, Leah Neale, Brianna Throssell, Annika Bruhn.
  • Superstar distance swimmer Katie Ledecky remains unregistered for the league for 2021 (though she could be in play as the ‘mystery’ name the ISL hasn’t yet announced). If she ever were to return to the league, the precedent set by the Miller/Litherland group suggests she may remain tied to DC, rather than rejoining the league as a true free agent.

Aqua Centurions Protected Swimmers

Fabio Santi
Tain Bruce
Katalin Burian
Martina Carraro
Arianna Castiglioni
Marcelo Chierighini
Gabriel Santos
Elena Di Liddo
Silvia Di Pietro
Valentine Dumont
Leonardo De Deus
Vladislav Grinev
Luiz Altamir
Nicolo Martinenghi
Breno Correia
Larissa Oliveira
Alessandro Miressi
Lidon Campo Del Munoz
Stefania Pirozzi
Matteo Rivolta
Simone Sabbioni
Fabio Scozzoli
Szebasztian Szabo
Alexandra Touretski
Evelyn Verraszto
Pedro Spajari
Thomas Ceccon


  • The Aqua Centurions were decimated by withdrawals last year, with the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the team’s Italian base especially hard. But the team looks primed to bounce back in a big way with some of those names set to return in 2020, plus the franchise holding the #1 overall pick. NFL fans might find some parallels to the 2018 San Francisco 49ers, who went 4-12 decimated by injury, but returned a strong core of talent, plus a high draft pick, and went 13-3 with a Super Bowl appearance the next season.
  • Returning from 2020 absences to the Aqua Centurions protection pool are Elena di Liddo, Silvia Scalia and Simone Sabbioni. But some of the key 2020 withdrawals are not in the team’s protection pool for 2021: Ilaria Bianchi, Silvia Scalia, Madeline Groves, Lara Grangeon, Matteo Ciampi and Sara Franceschi are all registered for the league in 2021, but do not appear on the Aqua Centurions protection pool list.
  • In addition, Etiene Medeiros and Philip Heintz were both key scorers for AQC last year and are registered for the league, but do not appear on the protection list.
  • But on the positive side, the Aqua Centurions added two massive additions we might not have expected. Vladislav Grinev scored 24 points in a single meet appearance for AQC in 2019. He didn’t compete in 2020, but is part of the 2021 protection pool for the Aqua Centurions. Thomas Ceccon has never competed in the ISL, but is part of the AQC protection pool, which means he’ll likely be retained to represent the ISL club based in his home nation of Italy.
  • We already knew that captain Federica Pellegrini would not be returning in 2021 – she did not appear on the league’s list of registered athletes.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
10 days ago

no Pellegrini? I guess she doesn’t need the extra $$$ for a few more weeks of swimming. Straight to retirement after Tokyo

Reply to  ab88
10 days ago

Beat me to it – no Fede was the big story from the Aqua list

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 …

Read More »