2021 INTERNATIONAL SWIMMING LEAGUE – SEASON 3, MATCH 18 – LEAGUE FINAL
- Friday, December 3rd – Saturday, December 4th
- 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm local time; 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST
- Pieter van den Hoogenband Zwemstadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands
- Short Course Meters (25m – SCM) Format
- ISL Season 3 Schedules, Start Times, & More
- Live Results
- Teams Competing: Energy Standard, Cali Condors, London Roar, LA Current
The 2021 ISL League Final is here! Energy Standard, the Cali Condors, London Roar, and LA Current will battle for the third consecutive season for the league title. There’s a lot to discuss, and this is our “deep-dive” preview, so let’s get into it.
Women’s butterfly in the 2021 ISL Final will likely feature fierce battles in the 50 and 100-meter distances between Cali Condor Kelsi Dahlia, London Roar’s Emma McKeon, and Energy Standard’s Sarah Sjostrom. Dahlia, however, is the only one of these three that swims up to the 200 butterfly and should be the favorite to win that race this weekend.
Outside of one Dahlia win from back in Match 2 of the regular season, Sjostrom will be the only swimmer in the field to have won the 50 fly this season, having done so seven times. Dahlia, on the other hand, has won the 100 fly six times and is the only swimmer to have cracked 55 seconds this season.
LA’s Beryl Gastaldello could also make some noise in the 50 and 100 butterfly, as could Energy Standard’s Maddie Banic and Anastasiya Shkurdai. London supplements its women’s butterfly roster with Marie Wattel and Ilaria Bianchi, while the Cali Condors back up Dahlia with Erika Brown, Katerine Savard, and potentially Beata Nelson.
On the men’s side, we’ll see Cali’s Caeleb Dressel, Energy’s Chad le Clos, and LA’s Tom Shields duke it out in the 50 and 100-meter distances, with le Clos and Shields also likely battling in the 200 fly. Dressel has to be the favorite in the 50 fly, while the 100 could go to either Shields or Dressel.
Shields has arguably had a stronger season than Dressel, though Dressel will be somewhat rested for the final. The London Roar have not been particularly impressive in the sprint butterfly events lately, but Teppei Morimoto and Vini Lanza are a strong duo in the 200 fly. The Condors answer back with Eddie Wang, while LA will likely call upon Tomoe Hvas to back up Shields in the 200, with Hvas also capable of swimming 49-something in the 100 fly.
Overall, Energy Standard and the Cali Condors seem nearly at a draw on the women’s side, while the Condors appear just slightly stronger than Energy Standard and LA on the men’s side. London lacks the depth to match any of the other three teams, save perhaps the LA Current, which is weak on the women’s side in this discipline.
Edge: Energy Standard (women), Cali Condors (men)
The backstroke events will be some of the most exciting to watch in the 2021 League Final.
The London Roar bring in world record holders Minna Atherton and Kira Toussaint, though Atherton has not been as strong as she was during the 2019 season. Even so, Atherton and Toussaint are a potent duo across all three backstroke races.
The Cali Condors boast Beata Nelson, Olivia Smoliga, Erika Brown, and Sherridon Dressel. Nelson and Smoliga are both strong contenders in all three backstroke races, though as Nelson also frequently swims IM and Smoliga sprint freestyle, Dressel or Brown will likely be called up to step in for the 50 backstroke.
The LA Current has a breakout star in Ingrid Wilm, though they’re lacking any significant backup for Wilm. Energy Standard has Anastasiya Shkurdai and Mary-Sophie Harvey, though as each of them also swim other events, they could be spread a little thin.
Energy Standard is much stronger in backstroke on the men’s side, thanks to Evgeny Rylov, Kliment Kolesnikov, and Travis Mahoney. Energy Standard really has all of their bases covered in men’s backstroke, though Kolesnikov and Rylov also double as freestylers, with Kolesnikov also swimming the 100 IM sometimes.
The London Roar boasts three heavy-hitters of their own in Guilherme Guido, Luke Greenbank, and Christian Diener. Guido is one of the fastest sprint backstrokers in the league this season, while Greenbank and Diener have been reliable for points in almost every race.
The Cali Condors have Coleman Stewart and Justin Ress, both of whom are strong, especially in the 50 and 100-meter distances. Stewart, after all, broke the world record in the 100 backstroke in Match 2 in Naples, though he has not been particularly close to his mark of 48.33 since then.
Finally, the LA Current brings in Ryan Murphy, who just broke his own ISL Record in the 50 backstroke last week (22.53). It would not be surprising to see Murphy sweep the backstrokes in the final, potentially nabbing a jackpot or two in the process.
Apostolos Christou and Maxime Rooney can play backup to Murphy and are generally reliable for points in the backstroke races, but they are by no means equal to Murphy in this discipline. Rooney and Stewart, though entered in the 2021 U.S. Open, which coincides with the League Final, both still appear to be in Eindhoven.
Overall, London is the strongest team on paper in both women’s and men’s backstroke, though if Smoliga and Nelson are both on their top form in the final, the tide could turn toward the Condors on the women’s side.
Edge: London Roar (women & men)
The Cali Condors are probably the strongest all-around female breaststroke crew in the league this year.
The London Roar boasts an incredible duo in Annie Lazor and Alia Atkinson, the latter of which is one of the greatest SCM female breaststroke swimmers of all time and the co-world record holder in the 100 breast.
Energy Standard is no slouch here either, with Evgenia Chikunova, the World Junior Record holder in the SCM 200 breaststroke, as well as Benedetta Pilato. While both teen phenoms have had great years in 2021, Chickunova has been much better in short course than Pilato.
Finally, the LA Current brings in Anastasia Gorbenko, Imogen Clark, and Kotryna Teterevkova, all of whom have been far better in the post-season than the regular season—though it still a relative weakness for the club.
Energy Standard is far and away the strongest breaststroke team on the men’s side, all thanks to one man: Ilya Shymanovich.
Shymanovich has lowered his world record in the 100 breaststroke twice this season, as well as tied the WR in the 50 breast at the SC European Championships. In addition to Shymanovich, Felipe Lima is a major threat to place 2nd in both the 50 and 100 breaststrokes.
Nic Fink of the Cali Condors is probably the strongest all-around male breaststroke swimmer competing in the final this weekend, after Shymanovich, and easily the best male breaststroke specialist on the Condors this year. The London Roar, who are still without Adam Peaty, will rely on Ross Murdoch and Sam Williamson, while the LA Current will need Christopher Rothbauer to step up in a big way.
Breaststroke on the women’s side should shape up for some interesting battles between at least three of the four teams competing this weekend, though the men’s breaststroke events will be dominated by Energy Standard. Jackpots in the women’s breaststroke events are not necessarily unlikely, but they should be much smaller than those we are likely to see on the men’s side, thanks to Shymanovich.
Edge: Cali Condors (women), Energy Standard (men)
Energy Standard and the LA Current both have very well-rounded female freestyle crews, with swimmers capable of winning the 50 through 400.
Most notably, Energy Standard brings in Sarah Sjostrom and Siobhan Haughey, the former of which is the ISL season leader in the 50 freestyle, while the latter is the heavy favorite to win the 200 and 400 freestyles, and may very likely also take the 100 freestyle. Both Haughey and Sjostrom are also potent 50 freestyle skins racers. Maddie Banic and Femke Heemskerk compliment Sjostrom and Haughey in the sprints, also bolstering their freestyle relays.
The LA Current, meanwhile, brings in Abbey Weitzeil, Madison Wilson, and Beryl Gastaldello. Weitzeil and Wilson have been two of LA’s best freestylers this season, with Gastaldello makings strides toward regaining her top form. Wilson, like Haughey, can swim any freestyle, from the 50 to the 400, while Weitzeil and Gastaldello are more suited to the 50 and 100. Valentine Dumont will likely swim the 400 freestyle for LA as well; Dumont is a reliable swimmer who should be a shoo-in for a top-4 finish.
London’s Emma McKeon will make things interesting in the 50 and 100 freestyles, with Freya Anderson and Katie Shanahan also helping in the 100, 200, and 400 frees. There is a chance McKeon won’t swim the 50 though, despite being the Olympic champion in the race, in which case Kim Busch will need to step up.
Finally, the Cali Condors bring in Olivia Smoliga, Natalie Hinds, Erika Brown, and Kelsi Dahlia to cover the women’s sprints, with Brown also capable of swimming a very competitive 200 freestyle. The Condors women are lacking in the 400 freestyle though, a problem they’ve contended with all season.
A rested Caeleb Dressel could be a game-changer for the Cali Condors. London’s Kyle Chalmers will go head-to-head with Dressel in the 50 and 100 free in what will be two of the most highly-anticipated showdowns of the meet.
Energy Standard’s Ben Proud is a surefire threat in the 50, having been 20.64 in the playoffs, while the LA Current lacks a male sprinter that can match Dressel’s caliber.
In fact, Kolesnikov is Energy Standard’s best male sprinter this season as Chad le Clos has not been near his best times.
Getting into the middle-distance events, LA Current hits its stride with Fernando Scheffer and Martin Malyutin, either of whom could be a tentative favorite for the 200 or 400 freestyle. However, London’s Chalmers, as well as Duncan Scott, are incredibly strong in the 200 and 400 freestyles, respectively.
Scott is obviously a very capable option for London in the 200 free, but with his IM duties, the club has turned to Chalmers and Zac Incerti there, while Tom Dean is another Roar swimmer that’s been rounding into form nicely and could very well go 1-2 with Scott in the 400.
Kregor Zirk represents Energy Standard’s best chance to score significant points in the men’s middle-distance freestyles, while the Cali Condors will need some big performances from Townley Haas if they are to get any significant points in these events.
Energy Standard that is likely to win the day in the freestyle on both the women’s side with the lethal Sjostrom/Haughey duo. While the men’s freestyle points look like they could be well-spread, barring a miraculous Dressel return-to-peak-form, the versatility of Kyle Chalmers across the 50-100-200 freestyles (he even beat Ben Proud in the 50 last week) gives them the edge.
The LA Current boasts the second-strongest women’s freestyle roster competing this weekend.
Edge: Energy Standard (women), London Roar (men)
Energy Standard brings in a loaded women’s IM roster with Mary-Sophie Harvey, Viktoriya Gunes, and Helena Rosendahl Bach. Add Sarah Sjostrom to that list as a likely favorite to win the 100 IM and Energy Standard covers the bases in all three IM events.
The Cali Condors will rely on Beata Nelson to get the job done in the 100 and 200 IMs, with Hali Flickinger also stepping in on the 200- and 400-meter distances. Kathrin Demler will also be an asset to the Condors in the 400.
The Current are relatively weak in this discipline. Beryl Gastaldello and Anastasia Gorbenko should be capable of putting points on the board in the 100 IM, though LA is missing a significant female performer in the women’s 400 IM.
The London Roar boasts the strongest men’s IM roster of the teams competing this weekend, thanks to Duncan Scott, Vini Lanza, and Christian Diener. Scott can cover all three IMs, while Lanza is a strong back-up to Scott in the 200.
The LA Current has a strong competitor in Tomoe Hvas, who can swim all three IMs competitively, with Brett Pinfold a solid performer in the 100 IM as well, though the Current does struggle a bit in the 400 IM.
Dressel and Cieslak ought to be the favorites to place 1-2 in the 100 IM, with Dressel also capable of winning the 200 IM, is he swims it. Wang and Martinez, meanwhile, are better suited to the 200 and 400 IMs, though neither swam the 400 IM in their last match, which left Cali to place just 7th and 8th.
Finally, Energy Standard is a mixed bag in the IMs. Charlie Swanson has recently swum well in the 400 IM, as Kliment Kolesnikov has in the 100 IM, though they need a boost in the 200 IM to earn any significant points there.
Overall, Energy Standard’s women’s roster is strongest in the IMs, though it will get some pressure from the London Roar and the Cali Condors. If both Nelson and Flickinger are on form, Cali could end up having the best IM performance on the women’s side.
Meanwhile, the London Roar brings the strongest IM group on the men’s side, though if Dressel is on jackpot-form, and if the Condors can figure out the 400 IM, they may also be able to rake in the most points here.
Edge: Energy Standard (women), London Roar (men)
Realistically, the women’s 4×100 medley relay is the only relay Energy Standard probably won’t win. Perhaps the London Roar gets the better of Energy Standard in the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay as well, but the men’s medley relay, as well as the mixed 4×100 medley relay, are Energy’s to lose, thanks mostly to Ilya Shymanovich‘s breaststroke.
Energy Standard could also get some heat from either the Condors or the London Roar in the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay, but it’s more likely that Cali and London will battle one another for 2nd and 3rd after Energy Standard.
Edge: Energy Standard (women & men)
Projected Team Outcome
- Energy Standard
- Cali Condors
- London Roar
- LA Current
Energy Standard and the Cali Condors seemed evenly matched in the regular season, perhaps with the Condors appearing slightly stronger. However, Energy Standard has been extremely strong in the post-season, and with Shymanovich showing so much jackpot potential–as much if not more than Dressel did in season 2–and with relays counting double, Energy Standard appears to have the slight edge over the Condors.
London has proven it can pick up momentum and reel off consecutive wins during the playoffs, including a 60-point win over Cali in Match 4. However, with Energy Standard in the mix here, the Roar will have a much more difficult path in securing some of the jackpots they did in that match. Still, it’s not hard to imagine them being firmly in the fight at the top of the standings.
The LA Current have come in 4th each of the past two seasons and would need absolutely everything to go right in order not to get 4th again.