Molly Hannis is returning to Eindhoven, Netherlands on Monday ahead of the ISL finale that begins on Friday to decide the 2021 ISL Championship.
Hannis, who swims for the defending league champion Cali Condors, missed the team’s last two Playoff match over the weekend while getting married. The Condors were 2nd in one of those matches and won the other, which carries them into the finals as the top seed.
There they will face a big challenge from Energy Standard, the 2019 league champions.
Hannis, when paired with teammate Lilly King, gives the Condors the dominant women’s breaststroke group in the ISL. Hannis has averaged 17.1 points/match for the Condors, while King is averaging 46.4 points/match.
Hannis picked up her lone win of the season in Match #2, where she topped the 50 breaststroke.
As for the team’s other big name who missed the last round of the Playoffs, Caeleb Dressel, general manager Jason Lezak is optimistic that he’ll be available for the final.
While not naming Dressel specifically, Lezak said that “although we have several athletes currently not feeling 100%, that should not impact their participation in the finals. We have a few days to get everyone healthy, rested and ready to defend our title.”
Dressel missed Playoff #6 with what the team called a cold. He was on deck and in the team box with his teammates during Playoff #6, in spite of his illness.
As for their opponents from Energy Standard, head coach Tom Rushton was coy about naming names, but said that they “hope to have some ‘ringers’ arriving last minute” without naming who.
Rushton says that his team has had some illness too and that they’re finally on the recovery from that.
He did say that one of the team’s top swimmers Chad le Clos was fine after Playoff #5 and should be available for the finale. Le Clos missed a few matches this season (and some FINA World Cup stops) due to a lingering knee injury, but looked solid in his first playoff match last week. He finished that match ranked 14th in MVP scoring with 27.5 points, including runner-up finishes in the 100 fly and 200 fly.
Among the swimmers who were on the team’s playoff roster but didn’t race are Florent Manaudou, Simonas Bilis, Max Stupin, Benedetta Pilato, and Jessica Vall (who only missed the 3rd round of playoffs).
If Energy Standard were to get all of those swimmers back, they probably become the favorites – especially with Dressel not looking near his best the last time out. But without any full certainty about either team’s roster, we probably won’t be able to get a good read until the day 1 start lists are revealed 90 minutes prior to the final match.