2020 ISL Final – Day 1 Live Recap


It has arrived. The International Swimming League (ISL) season 2 final where we’ll see defending champions Energy Standard try to hold the line against a siege of talent incoming from Cali Condors, London Roar, and LA Current.

The Cali Condors beat Energy Standard in match #1 to prove that the feat, in fact, can be done and the U.S.-based club’s leading star Caeleb Dressel has only gotten even more formidable over the past weeks of competition. However, multi-threat Melanie Margalis has since left the Budapest bubble, leaving the Condors without a big asset in the IMs and 400m free event.

We’re about to see how everything unfolds during today’s lineup of events. Follow along and keep refreshing for live updates.



  • 1 & 2 – LA Current (LAC)
  • 3 & 4 – Cali Condors (CAC)
  • 5 & 6 – Energy Standard (ENS)
  • 7 & 8 – London Roar (LON)

Recap: Retta Race, Analysis: Reid Carlson


LA’s Beryl Gastaldello wasn’t the leader at the 50 or even the 75-meter turn as Dahlia took it out fast. World Record holder Sarah Sjostrom began to make her move over the second 50 but Gastaldello surged out of lane 1 to take the victory in 55.34, just 0.02 off her week-old ISL Record and only 0.03 ahead of Sjostrom who touched 2nd for Energy Standard in 55.37.

Sjostrom was undefeated entering this meet so today represents her first loss of ISL season 2. Of note, ENS teammate Anastasiya Shkurdai got the nod as the 2nd entrant here over the other option of Maddy Banic who is relay only today.

Dahlia, meanwhile, finished 3rd in 55.55. You could tell Dahlia was feeling it in the final 15 meters, and though she conceded her lead, she and Condors teammate Erika Brown, who placed 5th, still bring in 10 points for the Condors.

London is off to a meh start with a 4th place finish from Marie Wattel in 55.71, which is pretty solid, though teammate Emily Large had her point stolen by Gastaldello, diminishing Wattel’s 5 points to 4.

Gastaldello was fired up post-race, helping set the tone for her LA Current squad.


Cali’s Caeleb Dressel was out fast in a blazing 22.44 at the 50-meter turn but LA’s Tom Shields was even faster in 22.38. However, leave it to Dressel to bust out his usual impeccable underwater dolphin kicks to pull away from the field down the final 50 to crank out a new World Record time of 47.78. That took a full 3 tenths from Le Clos’ 2016 World Record, set months after the Rio Olympics.

Though he lost his WR, Le Clos still managed to finish 2nd in 48.45, itself the 4th-fastest performance of all-time and Le Clos’ third-best career swim.

Tom Shields posted a 48.47 for the 5th-fastest swim all-time and what would have been a new American Record if Dressel hadn’t been in the field.  Marcin Cieslak, meanwhile, put up a new Polish Record in 49.18.

Dressel’s massive swim jackpotted three swimmers: Vini Lanza (London), Maxime Rooney (LA), and Kregor Zirk (ENS), giving Dressel 15 points and Cali overall 20 in this first men’s event.


Cali’s Beata Nelson was not intimidated by Aussie and Energy Standard star Emily Seebohm, taking the race out fast and refusing to relinquish her lead as the swimmers flipped at 150 meters.

Though Seebohm has traditionally always had a faster final 50 than Nelson, the Condor stayed strong and produced incredible underwaters off the 150 and 175-meter turns. Nelson finished in a massive best time and rocketed to the 7th-fastest on the all-time list with a 2:00.27, finishing nearly a full second ahead of Seebohm.

Cali picked up major points in this race thanks to a 3rd place finish by Hali Flickinger who hit the wall in 2:01.94, fully 2 seconds ahead of 50 backstroke World Record holder Kira Toussaint who finished 4th in 2:03.95. Flickinger is also entered in the 400m free later this session, replacing CAC teammate Melanie Margalis who left the Budapest bubble due to personal reasons.

LA faded a bit in this race, finishing just 6th and 8th, though 8th-place finisher Helena Gasson lost her point to Nelson’s jackpot, which also stole Energy’s potential 2 points from Jakabos, giving Cali a total of 18 points in the heat.


Ryan Murphy set out to defend his 7-race win streak in the 200 backstroke and produced a fast opening 50, flipping in 25.06. By the 100-meter turn, however, Energy Standard Russian star Evgeny Rylov had pulled ahead and flipped in a blistering 51.77.

Rylov did not produce the fastest split on the final 50 though he had created a substantial enough lead that he comfortably held off a charging Murphy and Kawecki. Rylov missed the World Record but finished in a very fast 1:46.37.

Murphy, meanwhile, was more than a second behind, though the 2nd and 3rd place finishes by Murphy and Kawecki breathed new life into LA. For comparison, Murphy’s 1:47.48 from the semifinal earned him 19 massive points compared to tonight’s single digit result.

Luke Greenbank produced a new British Record with his 4th place finish for London, while Christian Deiner managed a 5th place finish for London.


Lilly King, roared back to win the women’s 200 breaststroke in a near-American Record of 2:15.56 Rebecca Soni’s 2:14.57 from 2009 remains.

If this were a normal meet it would have been a 1-2 finish for the United States, but Annie Lazor, who competes for London Roar, charged over the final 50 to get London a vital 7 points.

London’s Sydney Pickrem placed 3rd and brought in another 6 points for the Roar.

Cali’s Molly Hannis brings the ‘Dors another 5 points to add to King’s 15, the result of a jackpot at the expense of LA’s Kierra Smith and both swimmers from Energy Standard. Though Energy misses out on points in this heat they don’t lose any points, and we know they’re primed for potentially big things in the relays.


London’s Kirill Prigoda was out fast, turning at 100 in 58.36, with teammate Adam Peaty in 2nd at 100 in 58.95, barely ahead of LA’s Will Licon who was out in 58.96. Prigoda pulled ahead over the final 100 meters as he’s wont to do while Peaty, the sprint breaststroke champion, faded a bit.

American and Cali Condor Nic Fink swam a patient race, turning 6th at the 100 but picking up steam over the second 100 to surge to a 2nd place finish overall in 2:02.20, breaking Cody Miller’s American Record. LA’s Licon held on for 3rd in 2:02.27.

We know the 200 breaststroke isn’t Peaty’s favorite race, but he stuck it out for the London Roar to place 5th and hold onto his points in a time about .2 faster than his semifinal outing. In fact, no swimmer lost their points in this race.


Siobhan Haughey started off a big relay with a new Asian Record in the 100 freestyle, hitting the wall in 50.94, the fastest split in the field even though it was from a flat start.

Reigning 50m free Olympic champion Pernille Blume, Femke Heemskerk, and Sarah Sjostrom all produced 51-mid-to-lows to bring the team to a new World Best Time of 3:25.37, which won’t count as the World Record but is the fastest time ever swum.

The same ENS foursome hit a mark of 3:25.82 for the former ‘unofficial’ WR last week, with splits as follows: Haughey 51.35, Blume 51.67, Heemskerk 51.53, Sjostrom 51.27. As such, the bookends of today’s relay in Haughey and Sjostrom were the difference-makers in hacking over half a second off the semifinal perforamnce.

LA Current placed 2nd, giving them some much-needed points, while London placed 3rd pushing the Condors to 4th. Energy Standard and LA brought up 5th and 6th again, while Cali and London’s ‘B’ teams lose their points.

After this relay, CAC owns a 16-point advantage over defending champions ENS.


  1. CAC – 93
  2. ENS – 77
  3. LON – 64
  4. LAC – 60


This race was all Dressel. After producing a World Record in the 100 fly earlier in 47.78, Dressel blasted a 20.16 in the 50 freestyle, lowering this record for the second time in his career and besting former World Record holder Florent Manaudou once again.

Manaudou, for his part, posted a 20.60 for 2nd while LA’s Kristian Gkolomeev was 20.75 for 3rd, lowering his own Greek Record once again.

Cali managed to earn a few more points thanks to the 4th-place finish by Justin Ress in 20.95.

Once again, Dressel jackpotted four other swimmers in the field, stealing all of London’s potential points in the process. Luke Greenbank, who earlier swam the 200 backstroke, was 8th and lost a point for the Roar. Greenbank was a last-minute replacement for Duncan Scott who was suspiciously originally entered in only this event and not his better 200m IM.

London’s other potential 50 freestyler of Katsumi Nakamura only raced in the ISL semi-finals last week, having returned to Japan already.

Nakamura was 21.22 last week. Had he been here this week with that time, he would have avoided the -1 result potentially from Greenbank racing this off-event.


Sarah Sjostrom and Femke Heemskerk blasted a 1-2 finish for Energy Standard, taking home 17 points for Energy after their unofficial World Record in the women’s 4x100m free relay.  

Sjostrom jackpotted Natalie Hinds who finished 8th for the Condors, though that loss won’t hurt them too much after everything else they’ve done in this session.

LA emerge with 8 points in the women’s 50 while London take away 7 and Cali just 4. There is definitely a lot of strategy thus far regarding which swimmers to use and which to save for the 400 medley relay which will decide what strokes the skins are tomorrow.

MEN’S  200 IM

LA came away with 15 points thanks to Andrew Seliskar and Tomoe Hvas who finished 1st and 4th, respectively, though London still takes away 13 points thanks to Andreas Vazaios and Duncan Scott who kept it close the entire race for Seliskar.

Energy Standard was unimpressive in this heat, emerging with only 4 points, while the Condors take away just 5.

Duncan Scott was originally going to swim the 50 freestyle and relays only but was entered in this race where he did prove vital, although he wasn’t as fast as his 1:51.66 from last week that denied Tokyo Frog Kings’ Kosuke Hagino.

Seliskar’s time here is now the fastest of the entire ISL and the former Cal standout was clearly pumped up post-swim.



  1. CAC – 138
  2. ENS – 111
  3. LON – 99
  4. LAC – 93


Adam Peaty seemed to have this one in the bag, but Energy’s Ilya Shymanovic out-touched him by a fingernail in 0.02. That tiny difference directed 5 additional points in the Belarusian’s corner while also jackpotting Cali’s Kevin Cordes and LA’s Will Licon to take home a total of 12 points. Coupled with Felipe Lima‘s 3 points gives the Paris-based squad 15 from this heat.

Peaty and Prigoda, meanwhile, took 11 total points for London, while Nic Fink brings home only 6 for Cali as Cordes was a victim of the jackpot steal by Shymanovic. Though Licon, who placed 3rd in the 200 breast earlier, lost his points, Felipe Silva delivered 5 points for LA.


Lilly King avenged her loss in the 50 breaststroke in Semifinal #2 with a victory of a mere 0.04 over teen phenom Benedetta Pilato representing Energy Standard, touching 28.77 to Pilato’s 28.81. King takes home a massive jackpot here with 19 points, stealing points from both LA Current swimmers as well as London’s Breeja Larson who King also jackpotted in the 200 breast earlier.

Pilato did earn a new Italian national record as a consolation, although King’s victory by .04 led to a consequential 12-point difference between the two.

Molly Hannis brought in another 5 points for the Condors, bringing their total up to 24 in the heat. If the ‘Dors can win the women’s 400 medley relay and select the breaststroke for the women’s skins again this weekend they could become the favorites to win this meet.


1. CAC – 168
2. ENS – 133
3. LON – 116
4. LAC – 98


Caeleb Dressel didn’t break another World Record leading off the 400 freestyle relay, but he did break his own American Record in a 45.18, putting the Condors in a massive lead. Kliment Kolesnikov, Le Clos, and Manaudou reeled in the team from California to finish in 3:02.78, scoring 18 points.

Energy also placed 5th to take another 8 points and a total of 26.

LA Current brought in 18 points thanks to their 3rd and 6th place finishes, which is more than the Condors who take away 14 total despite the massive lead-off leg from Dressel. London also brings home 14 points.

Significant splits came not only from Dressel, but also Kolesnikov’s 45.25 second leg for ENS, Justin Ress‘ 45.42 anchor for CAC, Gkolomeev’s 45.87 leg on LAC and LON’s Vekovishchev hitting a 45.82 anchor.


Despite setting the World Record in the semifinals, Energy Standard did not utilize Kira Toussaint in the 50 backstroke, opting to save her for the all-important 400 medley relay instead. That was despite the Dutch ace appearing on the start lists for this back sprint.

Olivia Smoliga instead took the win in the women’s 50 back in style, producing the only sub-26 second time of the field. Nobody was jackpotted in the women’s 50 back, though London will only take away 3 points to Cali’s 13. Energy Standard emerges with a solid 10 points in this race, right behind LA who gets 11 points.


Though Ryan Murphy took a loss in the 200 back earlier he was back on top in the 50, winning in a new American Record time of 22.54. Murphy’s trash-talking recipient last week, Coleman Stewart, nabbed 2nd and 7 points for Cali, though his 7 points are knocked down to 6 as teammate Mark Szaranek was over the minimum time and loses a point.

Murphy jackpotted three swimmers including teammate Dylan Carter and Energy Standard’s Matt Grevers, one of the best sprint backstrokers in American history. London’s Rylov and LA’s Guilherme Guido tied for 3rd in 23.02, each taking away 5.5 points. London thus comes away with 9.5 points while Energy only gets 5.5 points.

Carter was relatively disappointing in this 50m back after his strong showing in the backstroke skins in ISL match #10.


Cali’s Hali Flickinger pulled off a minor upset to win the women’s 400 freestyle in 3:58.77 over Energy’s Haughey who was 2nd in 3:59.69. The Condors also earned the 3rd place points thanks to open water star Haley Anderson who came in at 4:00.19.

Flickinger jackpotted one other swimmer, LA’s Makayla Sargent, bringing the Condors up to a total of 16 points. London will take 9 points from this field while Energy comes away with 10. LA, meanwhile, only gets 1 point out of this race.


12 points for London in the men’s 400 freestyle thanks to a win from Tom Dean who got to the wall just 2 tenths ahead of Danas Rapsys representing Energy Standard which will take back a total of 11 points.

Race strategy-wise, Dean nearly even-split this race, displaying the Brit’s growing maturity and experience in sticking to his own game plan to get the job done to beat Rapsys for the 2nd consecutive time.

Cali’s 200m fly weapon Eddie Wang had his points stolen here in the 4free, though Townley Haas managed 3rd for 6 points.

While it is still seemingly too early to say who’s fighting for 1st and 2nd in the team standings, it looks like the main battle could come down to the Cali Condors and Energy Standard tomorrow.


The all American team of Olivia Smoliga, Lilly King, Kelsi Dahlia, and Erika Brown ran away with the victory in the women’s 400 medley relay and set a new World Record in the process. Since the entire relay was American the World Record is valid.

Smoliga kicked off the effort with a speedy 55.60 to come within striking distance of her own 55.47 American Record. She then handed the reigns off to Lilly King who put up a 1:02.4 for one of the fastest splits ever recorded.

Dahlia and Brown were equally impressive and now the Condors will have the opportunity to choose the women’s skins tomorrow, which will almost certainly be breaststroke so that King and Hannis can have their shot at more major points and a 1-2 finish as they did in the second semifinal, though Atkinson and Pilato will likely shake things up a bit and could influence Cali’s skins decision.

Regardless of what the Condors choose for the skins tomorrow, they still come away with 24 points. Energy Standard, meanwhile, will take away 22 points for their 3rd and 4th place finishes, while London who placed 2nd and 7th come away with 18. LA, on the other hand, comes out with only 10 points. 






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2 years ago

What’s up with Cordes? Not looking promising for this summer

2 years ago

Toussaint absence on the 50 back hurts london, withdrawing from a race to rest for another was never an option to look for

2 years ago

Actually pretty massive 7:25s from Romanchuk and Christiansen!

Reply to  N P
2 years ago

What ? The 800 m started??

Reply to  swimfan_00
2 years ago

Yeah, it was at noon Eastern time.

2 years ago

I’m not sure if this is just my American bias showing but whenever they call James Gibson a relay expert I find it a little annoying. When you have the best team is it that hard to put together the best relay? You don’t hear everyone talking about Frank Vogel when the Lakers have Lebron and Anthony Davis

Reply to  Swimdude
2 years ago

No bias, you’re right, it was bugging me and I’m both European and a big fan of James’.

2 years ago

Prigoda’s -0.02 takeover just avoided the disqualification that would be an absolute disaster for London.

2 years ago

While on the discussion of relays imagine a relay consisting of Regan king (insert fastest butterflier) and Anderson. And for men, Murphy peaty dressel chalmers. Those would be stupid fast. Y’all are awfully chatty today too

Reply to  MX4x50relay
2 years ago

maybe kolesnikov instead of Murphy, given he cranked out a WR today?

Dressel <3 <3 <3
2 years ago

After today’s results, I conservatively have Cali still winning by 6.5 points after the Skins (assuming CAC picks breast, ENS picks Back and beats Murphy)

2 years ago

look up the scm wr then for a start

Reply to  Anonymoose
2 years ago

Welcome to our world when you all discuss short course yard times. It’s all weird to us

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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