SwimSwam Pulse: 61% Think Top ISL Draft Pick Will Be An NCAA Alum

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers what category the #1 pick in the 2021 ISL draft will fall into:


Question: The #1 pick in the ISL draft will be…

  • An NCAA graduate – 61.7%
  • An ISL veteran who was not retained – 29.2%
  • Someone else – 9.0%

61.7% of voters predicted that the top pick in the first-ever ISL Draft will be an NCAA graduate moving on to the professional swimming league.

The International Swimming League will hold a swimmer draft for the first time in league history this year, setting up a new roster-building model for Season 3 and beyond. In the past, teams have signed swimmers in what was essentially a free-agent market, with some brief periods of geographically-oriented exclusive recruiting.

An NCAA grad is probably a good bet to go #1 overall. The ten current ISL franchises will each be able to retain up to 16 swimmers from their 2021 rosters – that’s about half of their existing teams. That means most of the top-scoring ISL veterans should be retained – though it’s possible some swimmers push to hit the draft pool if they’re unhappy with their current franchise.

A few of the top 2021 NCAA seniors who could potentially join the ISL draft pool this spring and summer: Ryan Hoffer, Paige Madden, Brooke Forde, Nic Albiero, Evie Pfeifer, Trenton Julian, Javier Acevedo. One wrinkle to that list, though, is the NCAA’s offer of extra eligibility to athletes affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Most of those athletes would have the option of continuing to compete in the NCAA for one more season, taking them out of this year’s ISL draft pool.

The other wrinkle is how swimmer retention will work for 2020 ISL opt-outs. A number of top swimmers – including almost all the Australians in the league – signed with franchises for 2020, but did not ultimately compete amid travel difficulties and national policies that often restricted international travel.

There are some rumblings we’ve heard are that those swimmers – including Ariarne Titmus, Mitch Larking, Mallory Comerford, Emma McKeon, Cate Campbell, Minna Atherton, Kyle Chalmers, Ella Eastin, Madi Wilson, Kristof Milak, Daiya Seto and Kayla Sanchez – will not be eligible to be retained by their 2020 teams, with a few exceptions for athletes who were designated as “finals only” swimmers. That would be a major upset to the established draft pool, with proven ISL vets very likely overtaking NCAA-to-ISL rookies as the top values.

About 29.2% of voters expected an unretained veteran to go #1 overall in the draft. Even with that long list of opt-outs included in retained athletes, we projected a number of key scorers, including 100+ point-scorers Kirill Prigoda, Kelsi Dahlia, Christian Diener, Annie Lazor, Andreas Vazaios, Radoslaw Kawecki, Mikhail Vekovishchev, Vini Lanza and Allison Schmitt, as swimmers who could be on the bubble for either being retained or falling to the draft pool.

Only 9.0% of voters expected the #1 ISL pick to come from elsewhere other than those two categories. The best bet for that type of swimmer would be an established international star who hasn’t previously competed in the ISL but decides to join in 2021. That list would include someone like Simone Manuel, who hasn’t yet competed in the ISL, or swimmers like Xu Jiayu or Ye Shiwen from China, as China is one of the few swimming powers that remains unrepresented in the ISL.


Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks voters which new SEC coach will have the highest team finish at next year’s conference championships:

Which new head coach will have the highest team finish at 2022 SECs?

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner

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Sun Yangs Hammer
18 days ago

Confirmed 5% of SwimSwam voters can’t read. Auburn didn’t have a single scorer this year

18 days ago

It’s gotta be Simone, Jiayu, or Ledecky. If Ledecky actually showed up to all the meets first season she would have been a huge asset for DC

Reply to  N80m80
18 days ago

If Ledecky or Manuel swims, it would make this choice very interesting. They would both be huge marketing assets for whichever team signs them.

But I’m not sure if Ledecky is more valuable than Ryan Hoffer, for example.

Aqua gets first pick. New GM, so hard to read exactly what they’ll do.

I would suspect that DC will take a female. Hard to see them passing on Ledecky if she’s there, their women have more needs than their men, and they’ve had a very “women-centric” vibe to their marketing, so hard to see them passing up either of those female superstars.

Breakers will be hoping both Ledecky and Simone join (though Simone hasn’t been involved so far – so who… Read more »

Reply to  N80m80
17 days ago

For what it’s worth, Brett Hawke said that Manuel wouldn’t do ISL on the social kick podcast

18 days ago

Wow I didn’t even see that Geer had retired. Seems unusual to go straight to a power 5 head coach from professional swimming doesn’t it?

IU Swammer
Reply to  N80m80
18 days ago

She swam pro for a couple years. Just didn’t make much of a splash since 2019 teams were selected so long ago and 2020 was 2020.

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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