2021 ISL Playoffs: LA Current Secures Key Win in Match 2


By making it to the final round of the men’s butterfly skins race on Sunday, Tom Shields locked in the win and four playoff points for the LA Current in Match 2 of the 2021 International Swimming League playoffs. The LA also squad got a huge boost this weekend from Ryan Murphy, who took home match MVP honors in his post-Olympics debut.

The Current entered men’s skins leading London 482.0 to 469.5. Shields, Aqua’s Matteo Rivolta and London’s Kyle Chalmers and Dylan Carter advanced to the second round of skins, but the Roar swimmers were both eliminated before the final round. That was exactly what LA needed to get it done, no matter that Shields ended up second.

On the women’s side, Anastasia Gorbenko also got a huge breaststroke skins win for LA, defeating the world record holder Alia Atkinson, of the Roar, in the final round.

LA has a tough draw in getting paired with London throughout the playoffs and is extremely unlikely to be able to challenge for the win in either of its next two matches when the Cali Condors, and then Energy Standard, enter the mix. 


  • #1 Energy Standard & #7 DC Trident
  • #2 Cali Condors & #8 Iron
  • #3 London Roar & #5 LA Current
  • #4 Toronto Titans & #6 Aqua Centurions

If London bounces back strong from this second-place finish, which might entail bringing in Adam Peaty as reinforcement now that he’s been eliminated from Strictly Come Dancing, it could very conceivably secure two more second-place finishes behind the Condors and Energy Standard. That would mean a total of nine points for London in the playoff standings (3, 3, 3) while LA would have eight in that scenario (4, 2, 2).

Toronto, meanwhile, is paired with a short-handed Aqua Centurion team and should also be able to secure a couple of second-place finishes in the weeks to come. That would also mean a total of eight points in the playoff standings (2, 3, 3).

That would leave LA and Toronto in a tie, playoff points-wise, for the fourth spot in the final after Energy Standard, Cali and London. No potential tiebreak criteria has been announced, but presumably, it could be total points scored. Regardless, had LA taken second today, it would instead be facing an uphill battle to reach eight points over the next two meets rather than remaining in a workable position with third-place finishes.

ISL Playoff Rankings

Rank Team Matches Raced Points
1 Cali Condors 1 4
2 LA Current 1 4
3 Energy Standard 1 3
4 London Roar 1 3
5 Toronto Titans 1 2
6 DC Trident 1 2
7 Aqua Centurions 1 1
8 Iron 1 1

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Lior Maayan
1 year ago

Gorbenko time at her first skins win (29.51) was a new Israeli record. She now holds 17 Israeli records (8 LCM, 9 SCM, excl. relay)

1 year ago

The 👏 ISL 👏 scoring 👏 doesn’t 👏 have 👏 to 👏 be 👏 so 👏 confusing 👏

1 year ago

I think Peaty is too busy being a celebrity now to care about ISL 2021.. looks like he’d do anything else than swim for a London Roar this year .. just sayin

Reply to  Verram
1 year ago

Roar were basically expecting to be without him anyway but where is Prigoda? He was supposed to be absent only for the regular season if I recall right.

Last edited 1 year ago by Troyy
Reply to  Troyy
1 year ago

His name is on the start list of Russian short course championships which starts tomorrow. Not sure whether he’ll actually show up. He’s been very quiet on social media in the past months. Even his Russian teammates don’t know what he’s up to lately, according to theswimsuitguy.

Corn Pop
1 year ago


1 year ago

From what I can tell, tie-breakers are the same in the playoffs as they were in the regular season. If that is indeed the case, LAC has the tie-breaker over TOR. Their cummulative scores are:
TOR Match 5: 536.0 + TOR Match 12: 398.5 = 934.5
LAC Match 5: 454.5 + LAC Match 12: 506.0 = 960.5
960.5 > 934.5 Therefore, if both teams end up with 8 points, LAC makes the playoffs again.

ISL Season 3 Plans Include Six Matches for November Playoffs (swimswam.com)

Reply to  JFed
1 year ago

Yes, you’re right. So LA is pretty much guaranteed the final now, with 8+ points (assuming they come at least third in the next two matches) and the tie breaker won against Toronto.

Roar could end up with between 7-9 points, assuming they lose to Energy and Cali and depending on whether they beat LA.

If Roar beats LA in at least 1 of the next two matches, they should make the final with 8 points. The only way they don’t make the final with 8 points is if Toronto beats Energy or Cali, which doesn’t seem overly likely.

1 year ago

Can anyone explain how the pairings were decided? How does it make any sense to pair #3 and #5 while #4 and #6 are paired? If London had come fourth in the regular season instead of third they would have an easier path to finals. Like what?

Also stop teasing Peaty lol. He hasn’t even acknowledged the existence of ISL this year and has made it pretty clear he doesn’t care, so I don’t see him showing up to save the day.

Last edited 1 year ago by Sub13
Reply to  Sub13
1 year ago

Teams were put in twos. 1 and 2 were to be paired with 7 and 8. 3 and 4 with 5 and 6.

But within each quad, they were drawn randomly. So Energy Standard drew to be paired with EITHER DC OR IRON.

You’re correct in that there was not any real benefit to London being 3rd vs. 4th in the regular season.

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Thank you! I didn’t realise there was a draw

Reply to  Sub13
1 year ago

You beat me to it. The pairings are crazy weird.

Reply to  Sub13
1 year ago

There was a draw for the pairings. #1 and #2 were paired with a draw from #7 and #8. Similarly, #3 and #4 were paired with a draw from #5 and #6.

I don’t know if ISL broadcast the draws, but it ultimately shook out that all the pairings were a bit off from what typical American pairings are. AKA 1v7. 2v8, 3v5, 4v6.

Reply to  Sub13
1 year ago

That pairs are drawn I guess by flipping a coin or similar? From the rules:

Pair 1: 1st team with 7th or 8th team (draw #1; to define which of the two)
Pair 2: 2nd team with 7th or 8th team (depending on draw #1)
Pair 3: 3rd team with 5th or 6th team (draw #2; to define which of the two)
Pair 4: 4th team with 5th or 6th team (depending on draw #2)

Reply to  Sub13
1 year ago

1 and 2 were guaranteed to be with either 7 or 8. 3 and 4, with either 5 or 6. From here it was drawn out of a hat. We could have potentially had 3 v 5 or 3 v 6 but it was dependent on the luck of the draw. This is how we’ve ended up with London and LA (3 v 5), instead of the typical finals format (1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6, 4 v 5). This is actually quite a common way of doing it, if you look at the ATP/WTA Tennis Finals (if you like tennis), you can get the 1,3,5,7 best players in a group instead of the typical/fairest draw being… Read more »

Reply to  sweee
1 year ago

I actually follow tennis so I know how the seeding and draw works there and I think that totally make sense for tennis, considering in a grand slam you have 128 participants.

In a league with only 8 teams, it doesn’t really make sense to do a random draw like that, especially because unlike tennis it’s not a knockout, so sticking two strong teams together massively disadvantages both of them for the entirety of the playoffs.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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