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
- ISL Live Stream ($)
- Live Results
- Teams Competing: Energy Standard, Cali Condors, London Roar, LA Current
Braden Keith contributed to this report.
It’s certainly not a surprise to see Energy Standard leading the ISL Final standings after the opening day of competition, but the road we took to get there was an unexpected one.
Despite Caeleb Dressel not being on top form, everything else was seemingly going right for the Condors, as they compiled seven wins across the first 14 events. This included Kelsi Dahlia breaking a seven-year-old world record in the women’s 100 butterfly in the opening race of the meet, and Nic Fink producing a pair of upset wins in the men’s breaststroke events over Energy Standard’s Ilya Shymanovich.
Then came the women’s 400 medley relay.
The match was close coming into the event, with Cali up by nine points on Energy, but the Condors appeared to extend that advantage by a wide margin by winning the race with a big jackpot.
But shortly after the race it was revealed that Cali had been disqualified due to a non-simultaneous touch by Lilly King on the breaststroke leg, which had huge ramifications on the overall standings.
Energy Standard ended up scoring 38 points after they were awarded the victory and exited the race leading by 23 points. Had Cali not been disqualified, they would’ve been leading by 27 after the race— a 50-point swing.
Despite the setback, the Cali men carried on undeterred in the men’s medley relay, earning the victory in a new American Record of 3:19.64.
The all-U.S. team of Coleman Stewart (49.62), Nic Fink (55.21), Caeleb Dressel (49.01) and Justin Ress (45.80) managed to erase the previous American Record of 3:19.98, set at the 2018 SC World Championships.
With Energy Standard scoring both their ‘A’ and ‘B’ relays, they only gave up two points to the Condors in the event, exiting the day leading by 21.
Match Standings – Thru Day 1
- Energy Standard, 271.0
- Cali Condors, 250.0
- London Roar, 206.0
- LA Current, 171.0
London Feeling Toussaint’s Absence
With Kira Toussaint, London’s top female scorer this season and the 16th-highest point-getter league-wide, out of the match with a non-COVID-related illness, the Roar had to fill in the gaps as best they could on women’s backstroke.
London scored nine combined points across the women’s 50 and 200 back, while Toussaint would’ve been a near-lock to win the 50 and a likely top-three finisher in the 200. Emma McKeon was thrown into the 50 back, getting jackpotted in eighth, and Katie Shanahan also scored zero points in the 200 back.
Additionally, the Roar finished just over three-tenths back of Energy Standard’s winning team (after Cali’s DQ) in the women’s 400 medley relay, with Minna Atherton leading off in 57.23 on the backstroke leg.
All they would’ve needed is Toussaint going 56.9 or better—she was 55.45 individually in the fourth playoff match—and they would’ve earned the win and had a 32-point swing with Energy Standard, keeping them more in the thick of the team battle than they currently are.
- LA Current – Eliminate Fly
- London Roar – Eliminate Free
- Energy Standard – Chooses Backstroke over Breaststroke
This one went about the way you might expect it to go. Teams steered well-clear of Energy Standard’s Sarah Sjostrom, who has major jackpot potential in the skins races, and Cali Condor’s Kelsi Dahlia, who is swimming as well as anybody at this match. LA Current and London Roar, by cutting those two strokes, have eliminated the two stars of this session so far.
That left Energy Standard with a pretty straightforward choice, if not an ideal one: choosing backstroke over breaststroke.
Anastasiya Shkurdai was 2nd in the 50 back, .04 seconds behind Ingrid Wilm of the LA Current. LA is not a threat to Energy Standard in the team battle. Cali’s Maaike de Waard was 3rd in the 50 back in 26.28.
Wilm also reportedly a hand injury during Day 1, which makes the decision an even better one for Energy Standard.
As compared to breaststroke, where Energy’s Benedetta Pilato was 3rd in the individual event behind Cali’s Lilly King and London’s Alia Atkinson, two swimmers who are really good in skins, the backstroke is a better choice for Energy. Even if de Waard beats out Shkurdai (she was only .03 seconds behind individually), de Waard won’t go for huge Jackpot points there, which neutralizes any possibility of a big Cali comeback.
The only other way this could have gone is London could have left Energy the option of freestyle, and really could have forced their hand into it by eliminating backstroke, with the hope that Emma McKeon swims well and wins. That may have been a tactical error by Steven Tigg, because Energy Standard coach Tom Rushton was never going to choose to go up against Alia Atkinson and Lilly King in a breaststroke skins event. No, the backstroke isn’t Energy’s best skins race, but it’s a much better option for them with Anastasiya Shkurdai against a pretty soft field than breaststroke is with Pilato against a very, very good breaststroke field.
- London Roar – Eliminate Breaststroke
- Energy Standard – Eliminate Freestyle
- Cali Condors – Chooses Fly over Backstroke
London’s choice was straightforward: get rid of Nic Fink, Ilya Shymanovich, and Felipe Lima, with huge Jackpot potential, from the choices. Energy Standard’s choice was more tactical: they eliminated the 50 free, in spite of a Ben Proud win by .56 seconds in the individual event. While Proud is great in a 50, he hasn’t historically been as good across three 50s, and with Kyle Chalmers and maybe even Caeleb Dressel (who didn’t swim the individual event) lurking, they didn’t want to take that chance of pushing big points to their biggest rivals.
That left Cali with the choice between the 50 backstroke and the 50 fly. Neither was a great choice for Cali – but ultimately they decided to shy away from Ryan Murphy of the LA Current, who is very good in skins and very good at Jackpotting points in skins, in favor of fly.
No, Caeleb Dressel hasn’t been at his best as of late. But, in the skins format, he’s been so good, that even at less than his top form he might still win. In either case, the biggest downside in that race is again LA Current and Tom Shields, who won the 100 fly on Friday, but whose team is not a big threat. The next-biggest threat is maybe Vini Lanza of London, who has won a butterfly skins race already this season, and then Chad le Clos, who like Shields is a bigger threat if he survives the first round (he too has won a butterfly skins race this season).
It was a tough choice for Cali, who is really skins-proof when Dressel is firing but gets thin when he’s not. Ultimately, they probably made the right choice, though there’s still some gamble in play.