After the conclusion of the ISL draft, three more ineligible draftees have emerged, leaving more gaps in teams’ rosters heading into the 2021 season.
For Tokyo, Noe Ponti, their last choice, is not participating in the 2021 ISL season. That’s because he has opted instead to retain his amateur status and head to NC State this fall to race in the NCAA.
For New York, another draftee, Maxime Grousset, who was chosen is not eligible.
The Toronto Titans have also apparently drafted a swimmer who is not entered in the league – versatile British woman Aimee Willmott.
The Hits Keep Coming for Tokyo
After what was a contentious day for Tokyo in the draft, they’ve now unintentionally forfeited their last two draft picks, after also forfeiting a pick when they drafted Sarah Vasey, who had already been retained by the New York Breakers.
With his next pick, after arguing with ISL technical director Apostolos Tsagarakis, Salo attempted to pick Anastasia Gorbenko, who had also already been chosen. He then landed on Noe Ponti from Switzerland.
This immediately raised flags, as Ponti is committed to swim at NC State in the fall. NC State head coach Braden Holloway confirmed to SwimSwam on Wednesday that the European Junior Champion Ponti is not doing ISL and is still coming to NC State.
As it turns out, Ponti was one of the collegiate swimmers who registered while exploring his options, but ultimately he pulled out of the draft pool to maintain his college eligibility.
Ponti was the 93rd pick out of 110.
So this now leaves Tokyo with just 20 swimmers heading into free agency, with each team needing to get to at least 32 by the start of the regular season. Most teams will have 27 heading into free agency, except for the New York Breakers, who also had to forfeit a pick and will only have 25 athletes and Toronto Titans who will have 26.
Tokyo finished 5th out of 10 teams last season as the first team out of the final, and with these draft-day blunders, combined with questionable day 1 decisions, it’s hard to see them returning to that spot in 2021.
New York Breakers Follow Error With Another
Long before choosing ineligible Mehdy Metella in round 10, New York Breakers GM Martin Truijens chosen another ineligible swimmer – Maxime Grousset – in round 4 as the 25th overall pick. Like Metella, Grousset never entered the ISL draft pool.
With a lot of very fast swimmers still on the board, including the next pick Marius Kusch who was a Breaker in 2019, that one hurts much more than a forfeited late-round pick.
The Breakers, who climbed into the semi-final in 2020 after finishing last in the league in 2019, will now enter free agency with 25 swimmers, needing to get to 32.
Truijens is the team’s head coach and general manager this season – the only individual serving in both roles in the league. He was just head coach last season, but was elevated to general manager this season.
Aimee Willmott – Toronto Titans
Versatile IMer Aimee Willmott was chosen in the 8th round on Saturday by the Toronto Titans. But Willmott was not in the pool. This was not noticed during the telecast, but was pointed out to SwimSwam after the draft.
This one is more ambiguous, because while Willmott was not on the originally-released list of swimmers in the ISL draft pool, which was put out after the registration deadline.
She has, however, been added to the Titans’ online roster.
In a few instances, this happened with junior swimmers as the league was trying to protect their identities, but that doesn’t apply to Willmott, who is 28-years old.
The league has confirmed that Willmott is not participating this year, which means that Toronto will also head into free agency with one fewer swimmer on their roster: 26 instead of 27.