ISL Protection Lists: Iron’s Core Protected; Small Tokyo Group Adds Watanabe

Iron will have the option to retain pretty much all of its 2020 scorers. Tokyo has lots of stars not registered for the league, but added breaststroker Kanako Watanabe to their pool.

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:

Iron Protected Swimmers

Alina Zmushka
Artsiom Machekin
Caroline Pilhatsch
Clément Mignon
Daria K. Ustinova
Daryna Zevina
David Verraszto
Emilie Beckmann
Emre Sakci
Guilherme Basseto
Ida Hulkko
Isabella Hindley
Jenna Laukkanen
Jessica Vall
Katinka Hosszú
Kristof Milak
Leonardo Santos
Marco Orsi
Maria Ugolkova
Maxim Lobanovszkij
Mélanie Henique
Nicholas Santos
Oussama Sahnoune
Ramon Klenz
Ranomi Kromowidjojo
Robert Glinta
Ross Murdoch
Thom de Boer
Valerie Van Roon
Veronika Andrusenko
Yakov Toumarkin


  • Iron brings back most of its top 2020 scorers. That includes team MVP (and ISL rookie of the year) Emre Sakci and #13 overall scorer Ranomi Kromowidjojo.
    • In fact, Iron appears to have the option to bring back every single scorer from last season’s final ranks, aside from #282 overall scorer Danica Ludlow. Ludlow scored 7 points across three meets, but is not registered for the league in 2021.
  • Iron also got breaststroker Jessica Vall onto this list. She was not on the roster in 2020, but was part of Iron in 2019.

Tokyo Frog Kings Protected Swimmers

Ai Soma
Anna Ntountounaki
Catie Deloof
Chihiro Igarashi
Cristian Quintero
Daiya Seto
Kanako Watanabe
Katsuhiro Matsumoto
Kosuke Matsui
Leah Smith
Markus Thormeyer
Miho Teramura
Ryosuke Irie
Shinri Shioura
Simona Kubova
Suzuka Hasegawa
Takeshi Kawamoto
Tomomi Aoki
Tomoru Honda
Vladimir Morozov
Yasuhiro Koseki
Yui Ohashi


  • The Tokyo protected group is on the small side, with just 22 names. Tokyo should be able to retain up to 16 of these 22 names.
  • The list is small, in part, because a lot of 2020 roster members did not register for the league in 2021. That includes Kosuke Hagino, Natsumi Sakai, Bruno Fratus, Bradley Tandy, Naoki Mizunuma, Reona Aoki, Rio Shirai, Runa Imai, Sakiko Shimizu and Shoma Sato.
  • Tokyo should get Daiya Seto back into the mix, though. He was named to the roster but did not compete last season. He’s expected to be a high-impact addition after scoring a whopping 56 points in his single meet appearance in 2019.
  • Tokyo also lists Kanako Watanabe on the protected list. She did not compete in the 2019 or 2020 seasons and wasn’t announced with the Frog Kings roster at any point. But it appears she still made it into their protected pool, which is a big get for Tokyo considering how relatively thin their retention pool is.

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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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