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12 Cal alumni, including Natalie Coughlin, in the newly formed International Swimming League

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ISL is a newly formed professional swimming league with teams in both US and Europe.

Olympic Preview: Team USA Media Summit
Natalie Coughlin is not quite done with competitive swimming
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

While we will have a lot of swimming news in the coming year with the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games just a little over a year away, the swimming world is trying to improve their place in the lucrative but also very hard to succeed professional sports landscape by launching the International Swimming League.

Designed to fill the gap between the FINA sanctioned events, the first season of ISL will run for two months in the October to December period of 2019.

Very slowly, the rosters for the 8 ISL teams have been unveiled. Of course, a lot of Cal Bears alumni can be found on these rosters. While all these Bears have ambitions to make the 2020 Tokyo games next year, they are also invested in seeing pro swimming become a more lucrative things, particular for the 3 years between Olympic games.

There are 4 ISL teams in US and 4 in Europe. Each team is not completely aligned to one geographical location. Each roster currently has over 20+ swimmers with the maximum roster size being 28 swimmers per team, but the scoring for the ISL is not publicly known. The scoring breakdown for individual events and relays may eventually show up on the ISL website.

DC Trident grabbed the early attention of the ISL by pairing two US swimming greats - Stanford great Katie Ledecky and the never-quite-retired-officially Cal legend Natalie Coughlin. Coughlin, 3x Calympian, has stopped swimming competitively 3 years ago when she missed out on making the 2016 Team USA roster for the Rio games. After having a kid and writing a cookbook, Coughlin is ready to jump back into the pool as perhaps an experimental run to see if she has a shot at the 2020 Tokyo games? Coughlin started her swimming career being a great backstroker, but has since shifted to be a sprinter. It would be very interesting to see just what events and how competitive Natalie Coughlin will be in the ISL this fall.

Also on the DC Trident is Cal alum Madison Kennedy (part of that 1st Cal women’s swimming championship team in 2009), another sprinter that has been based on the East Coast (North Carolina area) since graduation.

The other US based teams are Cali Condors, New York Breakers, and LA Current.

The LA Current is the one roster that is loaded with Cal Bears. On the men’s side, LA Current will have Calympians Nathan Adrian, Ryan Murphy, Tom Shields, and Josh Prenot as well as recent graduate and likely future Calympian in Andrew Seliskar. On the women’s side, the roster is also loaded with Cal alumni - Calympian Kathleen Baker headline a Cal contingent that includes Amy Bilquist, Katie McLaughlin, and Egyptian national Farida Osman.

Calympian Jacob Pebley is the lone Cal Bear on the New York Breakers squad.

I do not see any Cal Bears on the Cali Condors roster, despite the closeness in the name.

The 4 International Teams are the Aqua Centurians, Energy Standard, Team Iron, and London Roar. [Clearly some team names are much better than others.]

The schedule of the ISL is 3 meets for each team and then the championship final with half of the teams qualified. Each team will face the same 3 teams in a USA venue and a European venue. Each team will then face the other USA/Europe teams in a regional meet for the 3rd and final regular season contest. Only the top 2 US and top 2 European teams will make the final in Vegas.

October 4-5, 2019: INDIANAPOLIS, IN

Where: IU Natatorium on the campus of IUPUI

Teams: Cali Condors, DC Trident, Aqua Centurians, Energy Standard

October 12-13, 2019: NAPLES, ITALY

Where: Piscina Felice Scandone

Teams: Cali Condors, DC Trident, Aqua Centurians, Energy Standard

October 18-19, 2019: LEWISVILLE – DALLAS, TX

Where: The LISD Westside Aquatic Center

Teams: LA Current, New York Breaker, Team Iron, London Roar

October 26-27, 2019: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

Where: Duna Aréna

Teams: LA Current, New York Breaker, Team Iron, London Roar

November 15-17, 2019: WASHINGTON, DC (but actually College Park, MD)

Where: Natatorium at the Eppley Recreation Center

Teams: Cali Condors, DC Trident, LA Current, New York Breaker

November 23-24, 2019: LONDON, GB

Where: London Aquatics Centre

Teams: Auqa Centurians, Energy Standard, Team Iron, London Roar

December 20-21, 2019: LAS VEGAS, NV

Where: Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino

Teams: US Team, US Team, European Team, European Team

Cal fans, do you think there is appetite for a professional swimming league? If/when these franchises become bigger (assuming that ISL is successful), is the prospect of professional swimmers training in a pro setting rather than with the pro group of colleges, a good development? Let us know in the comment section below.

Best of luck to all the Cal alumni on the various ISL rosters, and best of luck to this newly formed sports league (where sometimes finishing the first season is a feat). It would be great for ISL to find success and for all the great Cal swimmers to shine under the spotlight outside the Summer Olympic years.

GO BEARS!