After a month-long break, Season 3 of the International Swimming League (ISL) is set to resume on November 11 with the “Play-off phase,” a series of six matches where the top eight clubs will be whittled down to four for the league final in December.
While the ISL format brings a new team-based element to professional swimming, it also means that the biggest meets won’t have all of the best swimmers.
Two clubs, the Tokyo Frog Kings and New York Breakers, have already been eliminated from competition, and four more will bow out prior to the league final.
So as we head into the playoffs, here is the 2021 ISL All-Eliminated team, featuring the five best male and female swimmers that won’t be in action the rest of the season.
Daiya Seto, Tokyo Frog Kings
A dominant presence throughout the entirety of the regular season, Tokyo’s Daiya Seto finished atop the season MVP standings with 253.5 points—though it needs to be acknowledged he had five matches to score points in, compared to four for the majority of clubs. Seto was the league’s fifth-highest scorer prior to the Play-In Match with 220.5 points, trailing Cali Condors’ Caeleb Dressel (233.0) and Beata Nelson (232.0), and Energy Standard’s Sarah Sjostrom (228.5) and Siobhan Haughey (227.0).
Seto was named Match MVP twice (Match 6 and Match 10), and won a total of 14 individual races over the duration of the season, including a clean sweep of all five in the men’s 200 butterfly. He was the season’s fastest performer in the 200 fly (1:49.41), 200 IM (1:51.12) and 400 IM (3:58.65), and his form has only gotten better since the campaign wrapped up, putting on a dominant display at the FINA World Cup (2:01.4 200 BR, 1:49.7 200 FLY, 51.2 100 IM, 1:50.6 200 IM, 3:57.8 400 IM).
Needless to say, Seto’s presence will be one that’s sorely missed during the playoffs.
Yasuhiro Koseki, Tokyo Frog Kings
Tokyo’s Yasuhiro Koseki was consistently among the top male breaststrokers over the course of the season, scoring 134.5 points over the five matches in which he raced.
Koseki won the men’s 50 breast twice and the 100 breast three times, including claiming both events during the Play-In Match when points were at a premium. With season-best times of 26.01 and 56.31 in the two races, the Japanese swimmer would’ve been in the mix with the other big names had he been in action for the playoffs.
Brendon Smith, NY Breakers
Brendon Smith was the top male performer for the New York Breakers in 2021, winning seven individual races including a clean five-for-five sweep in the 400 freestyle. He finished with 122 points on the season, tops among Breaker men.
Smith was the season’s fastest swimmer in the men’s 400 free with a time of 3:37.11, and with the Breakers battling to avoid finishing last in all of their matches for the season, the Australian defeated Seto head-to-head in the 400 IM in the Play-In Match to help lead the club to third place. In that race, Smith dropped more than four and a half off his best time in 3:59.33.
Takeshi Kawamoto, Tokyo Frog Kings
Kawamoto was a consistent performer for the Frog Kings during the season, walking away with one victory in the men’s 50 fly in Match 2 (22.28, just off his Asian Record of 22.19 from 2020), beating the likes of Caeleb Dressel and Tom Shields head-to-head.
Kawamoto cracked 23 seconds a total of six times in the 50 fly during the season, including his effort in the butterfly skins during Match 8, where he made the final before ultimately taking second to Shields.
Kawamoto also broke the 50-second barrier in the 100 fly (49.80), was steady in hitting 23-low-to-mids in the 50 back, and could jump in the 100 IM if called upon. The 26-year-old finished with 121.5 points scored.
He was also a dynamo on relays, highlighted by his 48.74 fly split on the men’s 400 medley during the Play-In Match that led Tokyo to the event victory.
David Popovici, NY Breakers
Popovici, the rising Romanian star that took the world by storm this year, did not compete during the regular season for the NY Breakers. However, if the club had qualified for the playoffs, he was expected to join them.
While Popovici is a swimmer that appears to be more suited to long course, especially given the fact that he only just turned 17 and is still building muscle, he has turned in some quick SCM times of late, setting a new Romanian Record at the World Cup in the 100 free (46.77) and in the 200 free at SC Euros (1:43.08).
Abbie Wood, NY Breakers
Great Britain’s Abbie Wood was the top-scoring New York Breaker this season by 90.5 points, ranking sixth leaguewide with 212.5.
Excluding the Play-In Match (to make it a level playing field with the swimmers on the clubs that didn’t compete in the extra meet), Wood scored 175.5 points, which would make her the sixth-highest female scorer in the league.
The 22-year-old won eight races over the course of the season, including four in the women’s 200 IM and three in the 400 IM (tying with Yui Ohashi in one of those 200 IMs). Having produced respective times of 2:04.94 and 4:27.76 in those two events, Wood ranked third and second in the league overall during the season.
Yui Ohashi, Tokyo Frog Kings
One of the few women who could compete with Wood in the individual medley events was Tokyo’s Ohashi, who will also be missing from the action in the postseason.
Ohashi finished with 126.5 points over the five matches, winning five races, including that tie with Wood in Match 10 in the 200 IM.
Ohashi ranked second to London’s Sydney Pickrem for the season in the women’s 200 IM, clocking a time of 2:04.86 to defeat Wood in the Play-In Match, and also ranked third in the 400 IM (4:28.33) behind DC’s Bailey Andison and Wood.
Paige Madden, Tokyo Frog Kings
Finishing close behind Ohashi in the race to be Tokyo’s top female scorer was former NCAA star Paige Madden, who clocked in 121 points for the Frog Kings.
Madden was a stalwart in the distance freestyle events, picking up a victory in Match 6 in the 400 free (4:02.84) while also showing her versatility by chipping in with swims in the 200 back, 100 IM and the free relays when needed.
Svetlana Chimrova, NY Breakers
Russia’s Chimrova proved to be the league’s fastest 200 butterflyer by season’s end, winning the Play-In Match in a time of 2:03.76—dipping under Kelsi Dahlia‘s league-leading 2:03.95 from Match 4.
Chimrova also placed first in the 200 fly in Match 2 and Match 10, and was consistently between 56.5 and 56.9 in all five of her 100 fly appearances. She finished with 110.5 points.
Catie DeLoof, Tokyo Frog Kings
DeLoof scored 100 points in four appearances, grabbing a win in the 50 free in Match 10 (24.19). She was also a consistent contributor in the 100 free, 50 back and 100 back, and extremely valuable in relays, including throwing down a 51.83 100 free split in Match 8.