ISL First 5: London Roar Retains McKeon, Chalmers, Toussaint, Pickrem, Atkinson

The London Roar have announced the first five swimmers they’ll retain for the 2021 season – including two notable 2020 opt-outs: Emma McKeon and Kyle Chalmers.

McKeon competed for London in 2019, finishing 3rd across the league in individual scoring. Chalmers competed that year as well, finishing 15th despite swimming just three of the possible four meets. McKeon withdrew last season as Australians faced tough travel restrictions amid the pandemic. Chalmers withdrew for injury reasons.

The team will also bring back Kira Toussaint, Sydney Pickremand Alia Atkinson.

Toussaint was the team’s top individual scorer last year (#16 across the league in the regular-season), and set a world record in the 50 back. Pickrem was just the #53 overall scorer in the regular season, but perhaps does gain some extra value with the new ISL rules boosting 400 IM and 400 free scoring. Swimmers gain extra points for their place in each of those events at the 100-meter checkpoint.

Atkinson won a 50 breast skins race and was the team’s second individual scorer of the regular season at #21 leaguewide.

London finished third last season without its strong Australian core. With most of those 2020 opt-outs registered for the league in 2021, London has arguably the league’s deepest pool of swimmers to retain from. Swimmers not yet retained include Australian sprint star Cate Campbell, British breaststroke dominator Adam Peaty (#44 in regular season scoring), the versatile Duncan Scott (#37), freestyler Freya Anderson (#31 despite not swimming opening week)Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse, 2019 world record-setter Minna Atherton (who withdrew in 2020), backstroker Guilherme Guido (#38) and British standouts Tom Dean (#195), James Guy (#233) and Kathleen Dawson (#189).

All of those swimmers were originally registered for the ISL this season, but as we’re seeing around the league, it’s not clear yet which swimmers have chosen to withdraw from the league since that early announcement of 940 registered swimmers.


First, a quick refresher on personnel rules, as announced by the league:

Each team can retain up to 16 swimmers from their 2020 rosters across six different rounds of retention:

  1. 5 pre-selected athletes to retain
  2. 4 athletes announced in round 1 of retention
  3. 3 athletes announced in round 2 of retention
  4. 2 athletes announced in round 3 of retention
  5. 1 athlete announced in round 4 of retention
  6. 1 athlete voted on by fans (this round of retention comes after the first round of the ISL draft, though)

After that, players not retained will fall to the ISL Draft Pool, where the Aqua Centurions and DC Trident will each have a first-round pick. The Draft Pool will include unretained players, but also ISL rookies, like NCAA graduates and other new ISL additions.

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2 years ago

McKeon, Pickrem, Chalmers and Atkinson = all no brainers. All would be top or top 2 in one or more event with potential for jackpot in certain matches. All bar Pickrem are major relay assets. At least 2 would be viable skins options in various matches.

Am less sold on Toussaint who “beat up” in weaker matches but was often bested against stronger competition. Granted Atherton not making AUS Olympic team strengthened her hand as regards retention by Roar (which I would favour) but would’ve had her lower in the 15.

Reply to  commonwombat
2 years ago

I don’t think they’re being announced in order. For instance Dressel and King weren’t even announced for the Condors yet.

Reply to  Troyy
2 years ago

Suspect that may be the case.

I do,at this stage, still think Toussaint a lesser weapon in the Roar armoury than the other four named with her….. and at least 2-3 others who will be named later than her.

2 years ago

It’ll be interesting what Roar decide to do about Dawson and Atherton.

Sapnu puas
2 years ago

Peaty, sweetie, the disrespect!

Reply to  Sapnu puas
2 years ago

He should be in the next phase alongside Scott, Campbell and one of the backstroke boys

2 years ago

For me, retaining McKeon and Chalmers seems like a strong indication that Australian swimmers will compete in this season, at least many of them. I doubt that London Roar would risk to retain them, if they weren’t sure.

Reply to  iceman
2 years ago

They would not have nominated for the draft unless they were prepared to compete.

With regards to London’s AUS component from ISL1; I can only see the likes of McKeon, Chalmers, C1 & quite likely Graham making the 16 “retained”. Had Winnington made himself available then he’d very likely make the cut but he did not do so. Had Atherton made the AUS Olympic team or at least been somewhere near her 2019 level then she would also but that has not been the case.

Reply to  commonwombat
2 years ago

I think Graham has lost his spot to Dean who’s more versatile.

Reply to  commonwombat
2 years ago

commonwombat – there was high pressure on athletes to register for the draft.

Ultimately, we know for a fact that there are athletes who are registered for the draft who do not intend to compete, because they’ve told us as much.

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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