2020 ISL Semifinal #1 – Day 1 Live Recap

2020 International Swimming League – Semifinal #1

The first of the semifinals will see LON, NYB, TOK, and ENS battle it out for a spot in the final. The 2 top point-scoring teams from this match will secure their place in the finale next weekend.

Today should make for an interesting matchup, with each team having specific strengths across each stroke. In our preview for this match, we highlighted how the ever-important choice of skins (whichever teams win the men’s and women’s medley relays) will play a crucial part in this match. And, how that decision doesn’t seem immediately obvious heading into today’s races.

Live Recap: Lydia Ferrari Kehoe, Race Analysis: Jared Anderson



Sarah Sjostrom remains undefeated this year in the 100 fly, going 55.44 for the first post-season win of the year. That’s just a tick off the ISL record shared by Sjostrom and Kelsi Dahlia at 55.35. But it’s still much better than anyone else in the ISL has been this year, Dahlia included.

An important second-place finish from Marie Wattel disturbs Energy Standard‘s plan of going 1-2 here. She touches in a time of 56.09 for London, just off her personal best of 55.97 from 2017. 

Energy didn’t put Maddy Banic in this race, who stepped up with a 55.69 during Match #6 when Sjostrom was out with back pain. Shkurdai’s time today of 56.40 is quite a bit off her fastest this season, also from Match #6, at 55.65.

It’ll be a solid start for Energy, which goes 1st/3rd. But Energy actually holds the #1, #2, and #3 spots in the league this year, so Wattel stepping up to second for London is a big break.
We saw no jackpots to start the meet. Perhaps with some rest, we’ll see the fields tighten up a little bit.


It’s two in a row for Energy Standard. Chad le Clos went 49.14, improving on his season-best by two-tenths of a second.

Though le Clos was much faster than his best time in the ISL this season, he’ll remain #3 in the league rankings behind Tom Shields (48.94) and Caeleb Dressel (49.02), both of whom will compete in tomorrow’s semifinal #2.

London has struggled some in the fly, but Marius Kusch really came through here with a second-place finish. Kusch was 49.48, improving his season-best by two tenths and moving up to #4 leaguewide.

We did see our first jackpot, though it was le Clos jackpotting his own teammate Kregor Zirk. Two early wins have Energy Standard on top by four points over London, with Tokyo six points back of the final transfer spot to the league finale. Tokyo’s Kawamoto was just off his own National record time of 49.54. 


A 2-3 finish for Tokyo is very solid here considering we haven’t seen them with very many high finishes in the women’s backstroke events this season.  broke 

Energy Standard is on a tear today. Emily Seebohm gives them a third-straight win, though every winner so far has been the top-ranked swimmer in this semifinal. That’s the case for Seebohm, who sits #4 in the league behind two swimmers from semifinal #2 (Toronto’s Lisa Bratton and Cali’s Beata Nelson) and one swimmer out of the playoffs (DC’s Amy Bilquist).

That’s Seebohm’s third win this season, with two losses coming to Bratton. Seebohm’s swim today was a drop of a half-second from her season-best, moving to #2 across the league and just hundredths behind Bratton for the league lead.

We’re seeing quite a few season-bests so far, suggesting we might be seeing a lot of Energy’s stars in some point of their rest phase today. Tokyo had a nice swim, going 2nd/3rd and avoiding Seebohm’s jackpot of three swimmers. But Energy still jumps out to a 10-point lead over London, and Tokyo is now just two behind the Roar for second.


We widely expected a battle of the backstrokers in this semifinal. So it’s especially impressive that Tokyo’s Ryosuke Irie gets the win here over two returning league final teams that are strong in back.

Irie has been so rock solid consistent this year, with three second-place finishes and one third-place in the 200 back. He’s been within 1:49.1 and 1:49.5 with every single swim. Today, he broke that streak with his first ISL win in the 200 back, going 1:49.02 to beat a stellar field.

The entire top five were within about half a second in a brutal race, so Irie only wound up with one jackpot. He remains the #4 performer in the ISL so far this year, beating #3 Evgeny Rylov and #5 Kliment Kolesnikov head-to-head.

Energy Standard was 2nd and 3rd, still good for overall points, but disappointing given the strength of their backstroking group. Kolesnikov did improve his season-best by two tenths, remaining #5 in the league for the year.

London’s Luke Greenbank and Christian Diener were 4th and 5th – not far out of the win, but also continuing to show some rust after their backstroking group started the season on such a hot streak. That’s also a British record for Greenbank, the previous mark belonging to Chris Walker-Hebborn  at 1:50.73 which stood for 11 years. 

Irie’s clutch win puts Tokyo into second place, two points ahead of London and in control of the final qualifying spot into the league final. Energy leads Tokyo now by 8. The NY Breakers are quickly falling out of it, sitting 24 points behind London in last place.


New York’s Emily Escobedo has been outstanding this year, trailing only Lilly King in the ISL ranks. Escobedo gets the win here without needing a best time. She beat Annie Lazor (#3 in ISL ranks) by six-tenths of a second as New York got a much-needed 1st/3rd.

Escobedo’s win came with one jackpot of Energy Standard‘s Viktoriya Gunes. The defending champions from Energy really struggled in this event, going 7th and 8th and taking just two points overall.

That’s going to catalyze a major shakeup in team points: London now leads by 9 over Energy Standard and Tokyo is just two points back of knocking the defending champs out of a qualifying spot to the final.


But just as things were starting to trend upwards for New York, we get a massive upset. Marco Koch hadn’t lost this race yet in 2020. In fact, he had consistently won by gigantic margins, including the league’s biggest jackpot swim from earlier this year.

Koch was part of a Breakers controversy last week when the team used too many swimmers, ultimately replacing an injured Koch with a bench swimmer rather than a relay-only swimmer, which is not what ISL rules stipulate. It might be due to injury, but Koch has been a little off his formerly-dominant mark the past two weeks, going 2:01.4 and 2:01.3 compared to his 2:00s from early in the year.

London’s Kirill Prigoda – the World Record holder in this event (2:00.16) – got the big upset here, carrying two jackpots, including a key jackpot on Energy Standard‘s Maxim Stupin. Prigoda wasn’t even inside the top 5 in the league this year in the 200 breast, but rockets all the way up to #2 leaguewide with that breakout swim.

Tokyo’s Koseki will move up to 4th in the league with a drop of almost a second and a half here.


This one was maybe the marquee matchup coming into the day. Energy Standard has never lost this relay in two ISL seasons. London hasn’t lost it yet in 2020, and only lost twice in 2019, both times while splitting its relays to maximize points rather than secure the win.

And the drama certainly paid off. Both relays got splits of 51.9 or better from all four swimmers as we saw the two best times in the ISL this year by a longshot. It was Energy Standard that took home the win and stayed unbeaten. Siobhan Haughey‘s 51.3 leadoff staked them to a solid lead, and Sarah Sjostrom anchored in 51.2. Pernille Blume was 51.6 and Femke Heemskerk 51.5. Their 3:25.82 destroys the ISL record, set at 3:26.48 by Energy Standard last year.

The time is actually almost a full second under the standing world record in the event – though FINA has said it won’t ratify world records on relays unless all four swimmers are of the same nationality.

So Energy Standard will have the fastest time in history, though not technically the world record as Haughey represents Hong Kong, Sjostrom Sweden, Blume Denmark and Heemskerk the Netherlands.

London was 3:26.64, seven-tenths under their formerly-league-leading time. Freya Anderson was 50.99 on the anchor leg and the only swimmer sub-51, trying valiantly to run down Sjostrom. Anna Hopkin also led off in 51.9, a very solid swim for her.

Tokyo wound up third here, bettering their season-best by three tenths. Natsumi Sakai was 51.9 on her split. The big relay win puts Energy Standard back on top by a whopping 27 points over London. London and Tokyo tied in overall points here, so the Roar will continue to lead the Frog Kings by 11 for second place.



Energy Standard‘s Florent Manaudou hasn’t lost a 50 free yet this year. That includes a win over world record-holder Caeleb Dressel in week 1.

Manaudou sat out last week to rest up for the postseason, and he made the rest count today with another win. Manaudou crushed Tokyo sprint star Vladimir Morozov by three tenths, and Manaudou didn’t even have to go a season-best time.

Morozov did manage to drop .02 off his season-best. That breaks a three-way tie for #5 in the league. Tokyo did not use Bruno Fratus here – Fratus was tied with Morozov for #5 in the league. Instead, the Frog Kings took third with Kosuke Matsui, who was nearly under 21 seconds.


Energy Standard brought in two 50 freestylers who haven’t lost yet in 2020. Sjostrom‘s win here means both will stay undefeated heading into the league final. Sjostrom was 23.43 here, .02 off her season-best, which ranks 4th in the league for the season.

But this one was a matchup of unbeatens, as New York’s Kasia Wasick also hadn’t lost a 50 free this year. Wasick remains the top time in the ISL with her 23.30 from earlier in the year, but Sjostrom handed Wasick her first head-to-head loss here and grabbed two jackpots – both of Tokyo Frog Kings.

Energy has rocketed out to a 42-point lead over London, taking care of business in their ISL title defense run. London is up 16 on Tokyo as that battle remains fairly close heading into the IMs, a Frog Kings strength.

MEN’S  200 IM

We noted how good Tokyo is in the IMs, but it was London that dominated this one. Duncan Scott came through with a massive swim in what is perhaps the most wide-open event in the entire ISL.

Scott’s 1:51.66 surges him from outside the league’s top 5 to the top performer in the entire league this year. Prior to today, no one had been under 1:52.4 in this event. Scott is now within a second of Daiya Seto‘s league record from last year.

London went 1st/3rd, with former league leader Andreas Vazaios coming in just tenths off his season-best.

Tokyo was very solid as well. Kosuke Hagino took second in 1:52.35, taking over the #2 spot in the league for the season. And Tomoru Honda won a touch-out for fourth place.

London makes up 11 points on Energy Standard here, and Tokyo makes up five. That’s going to league London in second by 22, and Tokyo 22 behind London for second.


Tokyo did break through for an IM win here, though. Yui Ohashi has been one of the league’s best rookies, and she continues to dominate the IMs here. Her 2:03.93 breaks the ISL record set by Melanie Margalis, who has withdrawn from the remainder of the season. 

Ohashi’s time is also a new Asian record as she takes down Ye Shiwen‘s mark of 2:04.64 from 2012. 

London’s Sydney Pickrem moves up to #3 in the league for the year as London stayed tough on depth here. Pickrem was 2nd and Siobhan-Marie O’Connor 4th.

Ohashi jackpotted Energy Standard‘s Viktoriya Gunes and New York’s Emily Escobedo as London and Tokyo continue to somewhat work together to chase down Energy Standard. London is now just 13 points back of Energy, with Tokyo 18 points back of London. New York is 49 behind Tokyo.


Lke Manaudou, London’s Adam Peaty sat out last week for some rest heading into the semifinals. He responded here with his season-best in the 50 breast by almost half a second, winning over #2-ranked Ilya Shymanovich and displacing Shymanovich for the second spot in the league ranks.

Peaty was 25.50, trailing only Iron’s Emre Sakci in the ISL this year. Shymanovich was solid in his swim, too, taking .02 off his season-best.

It’s another 1st/3rd for London, including one jackpot. That cuts the Energy Standard lead down to 8 points.

Tokyo fell out of it here, though, going just 4th/7th and fading to 27 behind London for the second-place transfer spot to the league final.



Energy Standard‘s Benedetta Pilato has been outstanding – she ties the ISL record here in 28.86. That puts Pilato atop the league ranks, tied with dominator Lilly King for first. King beat Pilato in the only regular-season meeting between the two.

That came in week 1, with King going 28.86 and Pilato 28.97. We should now get the two on a collision course for the ISL final next week.

Pilato grabbed four huge jackpots, as Energy will battle back against the surging London Roar here. London has their own breaststroke star in Alia Atkinson, who was just a tenth off her season-best in second here. But Energy’s lead grows to 25 points, with Tokyo 28 behind London for second.


Energy Standard stayed hot, taking a half-second off their season-best and moving up to #4 in the league this season. The only teams ahead of them are the Aqua Centurions (who didn’t qualify for the postseason) and the two American franchises (Cali and LA) expected to move on to the final from the other semi.

Kliment Kolesnikov continued to be a relay hero, going 45.7 on his split to lead the team. Florent Manaudou was also 46.2.

London pushed hard early, taking the lead on a 46.1 split from Mikhail Vekovishchev on the second leg. They also saw a 46.3 from Marius Kusch, but couldn’t hold off Energy’s stellar back half of Kolesnikov/Manaudou. London did improve its season-best by seven-tenths of a second, though.
Tokyo got 46.7s from Katsuhiro Matsumoto and from Markus Thormeyer to take third.


London clearly showed up to swim today. Kira Toussaint broke the first official world record of the 2020 ISL season here, going 25.60 to shave .07 off a six-year-old world record.

Toussaint has been brilliant this year, filling in for Minna Atherton, last year’s London backstroke star. In fact, this will mark the second ISL season where a London backstroker breaks the first world record of any swimmer in the league.

Toussaint moves from #2 to #1 in the league this year, passing up Olivia Smoliga, who will swim tomorrow. Despite setting a world record, Toussaint earns just one jackpot, taking points from New York’s Golding.

Tokyo was great here, in 2nd and 3rd. But Energy still leads the team ranks by 24 points over London. Tokyo is 27 behind the Roar for second.



London’s Guilherme Guido and Christian Diener were lights out early in the season. But they’ve taken some tough hits lately in brutal matchups. Today, though, they get a really key return to form from both men in the 50 back.

Guido went 22.89, finishing just .03 off his season-best. He remains the league record-holder with his 22.55 from last year. Diener was 23.03 here, three tenths off his season-best. Those two sit #2 and #3 in the league this season behind only Ryan Murphy of the LA Current.

London jackpotted both of New York’s swimmers, and they’ve clawed to within 13 points of Energy Standard in the race for the team lead. They’ve also built a 46-point lead on Tokyo, for the moment leaving little drama to which two teams will make the trip to next week’s final.

Tokyo’s Kawamoto had a good swim here, beating two highly-touted Energy Standard talents. Energy used Matt Grevers and Evgeny Rylov here, likely resting up Kliment Kolesnikov for that all-important medley relay coming up.


Tokyo really pressed their advantage here. Leah Smith hasn’t lost the 400 free yet this year, and she came through with her best swim of the year to improve to 5-for-5. Smith’s 3:58.26 moves up to #1 in the league for the season, passing Melanie Margalis. Smith had previously been 3:58.65.

Energy Standard‘s Siobhan Haughey entered the meet with a better time than Smith by a tenth. But she was well behind the Frog King distance queen here, going 4:00.10 for second – that’s a second and a half off a season-best.

London faded to just 7th and 8th here as the Frog Kings will make up some ground. But the Roar avoided the jackpot margin with both swimmers, which will be key in keeping Tokyo behind them.

London is currently 20 points behind Energy Standard for the lead. Tokyo is 36 behind London for second, with New York 85 back of Tokyo in fourth place.


London has struggled hard in the men’s 400 free this year. So it’s all the sweeter for the Roar that Tom Dean broke through so emphatically here. Dean hadn’t finished higher than 5th in this race until last week, when he rose to third. But he was an incredible 4.1 seconds faster today, handing Danas Rapsys his first-ever ISL loss in the 400 free.

Dean’s 3:37.87 beat Rapsys by two tenths and also moved Dean up to #3 in the league this season. That’s a massive breakthrough for London in an event where they had been losing major points so far this year.

Rapsys was second, two and a half seconds off his league-leading time. Dean took two jackpots, though his teammate Vini Lanza missed the cutoff time, swimming in relief of James Guy who is out today.
That’s going to get London to within 19 points of Energy Standard heading into the all-important medley relays. Tokyo is 42 behind London.


Energy Standard won big here. They came in with the league’s best time this year, though the Cali Condors have never lost this race head-to-head. Energy went 3:45.58, crushing Cali’s ISL record of 3:46.82 from last year and setting up a likely showdown with Cali in the final.

Emily Seebohm actually outsplit Kira Toussaint in backstroke (56.2 to 56.6), a key swing for Energy. Benedetta Pilato was 1:03.1 for the field’s best breaststroke split, and Energy Standard also had the best fly split on a 55.1 from Maddy Banic.

Sarah Sjostrom anchored in 51.0 for Energy. London was 3:46.59, also passing up Cali in the league ranks and going under Cali’s old league record. Freya Anderson had the field’s best anchor leg at 50.8. Marie Wattel was 55.3 on fly and Alia Atkinson 1:03.7 on breast.

Energy did go 1st/3rd here, taking a big point swing and the ability to pick the skins. They should probably look to freestyle tomorrow to take advantage of London’s weakness, but we’ve seen this loaded Energy Standard roster basically be able to make the wrong skins choice in the past without fear of losing the meet – so it’s possible they mix things up tomorrow if they’re not too concerned about falling out of the top two.

They’ll currently lead London by 29. Tokyo is an even 50 behind London and 79 behind Energy, so there isn’t too much fear that Energy will lose their finals berth.


Energy came in with the league’s best time this year, almost a second faster than London. But the Roar had an incredible showing here, cutting two seconds from their best time, smashing Energy’s ISL record and taking over the top time in the league this year.

London had the best backstroke split of the field, with Guilherme Guido going 49.4 to beat league record-holder Kliment Kolesnikov (49.6 here). The difference-maker, though, was Adam Peaty, who split an absurd 54.8 on breaststroke, one of the fastest splits we’ve ever seen. Marius Kusch was 49.3 on fly and Duncan Scott swam a very strategic 45.9 anchor, holding off Energy’s Manaudou at the wall.

Energy had the field’s best fly split from Chad le Clos (48.9) and wound up second, more than a second faster than their previous ISL record. Manaudou was 45.7 on free, outsplitting Scott for the best split of the field.

These two teams made a huge statement to set up a potential finals showdown with the LA Current, who still haven’t lost a men’s medley relay but now sit almost a second and a half behind the two European clubs in league ranks this year.

London was 1st and 4th, a great points haul. And they’ll be able to pick the men’s skin stroke tomorrow, perhaps the only factor left that could keep this meet close at the top.

London is 21 points behind Energy. We’d guess they’ll look to the men’s breaststroke for the skins, where Peaty was pretty dominant today with his relay split and a 50 breast win, and where Kirill Prigoda is also swimming as well as he has all year coming off a 200 breast win.

Tokyo was third, taking two tenths off their season-best. Ryosuke Irie split 50.2 on back and Yasuhiro Koseki 55.8 on breast.


In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

why didnt bruno fratus do the 50 free

Reply to  swimfan44
2 years ago

Bruno is a great LCM 50 freestyler. Yes he won the 50 free in the team’s last meet, albeit against a pretty thin sprint field, but he was 8th in the 100 free and was Jackpotted. That was his only other individual event.

Remember: teams only get 12 swimmers in individual events. Presuming a full roster, that means 2 have to be relay-only and 2 have to be on the bench at each meet of each gender.

In a deep field, in a semi-final, and especially a final, getting 3rd in the 50 free and 8th in the 100 free and having your Jackpotted points is not a recipe for a championship for London. There are too many events for… Read more »

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

I actually wish they’d abolish relay only swimmers and just have a roster limit of 14. I wonder what their rationale is behind having relay only swimmers?

Swim mom Canada
2 years ago

We need to see the times after the races please, not only the points

2 years ago

That has been true of quite a few breaststrokers from the underwater footage I’ve seen…

2 years ago

Guido new SA record 49,40

2 years ago

That was the most exciting day of ISL so far this year for sure. Peaty has been a revelation. Why did I doubt you?

Last edited 2 years ago by Troyy
Reply to  Troyy
2 years ago

Agree, great day of racing. A WR and a best-ever split, individual surprises, and epic relays overall.

2 years ago

ISL record in the men’s medley relay.

2 years ago

Peaty fastest split ever ? 54.84 ! Roar wins the medley ! Yes !!!!

Reply to  Aussieone
2 years ago

Possible is? It’s way faster than that of the medley WR’s split.

2 years ago

54.8 for Peaty?????