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 Poll, which asks voters which new SEC coach will have the highest team finish at next year’s conference championships:
The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner