4 Big Things From Day 2 of ISL’s Match #4


Match 4 has wrapped – here’s what we learned:

Putting Sakci’s Skins Race Into Perspective

Because it was the first men’s 50 breaststroke skin race, it’s hard to put into perspective just how good Emre Sakci has to be to go 25.73 in the final round.

In the individual 50 breast – just one round and coming pretty early in the event lineup on day 1 – only two men in the entire league have been under 26 seconds across four meets. Sakci’s 25.50 is the ISL leader and ISL record, and Ilya Shymanovich has been 25.64. Beyond that, no one has been better than 26.0.

So after an entire meet’s worth of swims – and two rounds into a brutal skin race format – Sakci went faster than anyone but Shymanovich has gone with almost total rest and prep time.

Not only that, but Sakci was just a half-second off the world record (25.25) in his third round of the skin race. No comparison is perfect, but if we calculate the percentage margin between Sakci’s swim and the world record (1.9%) and between Sakci’s swim and the ISL’s best time this year (0.9%), we can compare what a similar time would look like in other events:

Sakci’s swim is like a freestyler going 20-point-mid in the third round, or like a women’s breaststroker going 28-high in the final round. His swim today was incredible, and it carried Iron to second place.

1.90% 0.90%
Sakci’s Margin From WR
Sakci’s Margin From ISL’s Best Time
M 50 free 20.62 20.82
M 50 back 22.64 22.97
M 50 fly 22.16 22.16
W 50 free 23.37 23.64
W 50 back 26.16 25.97
W 50 fly 24.84 24.96
W 50 breast 29.10 29.12

Sakci’s swim is like a freestyler going 20-point-mid in round 3, or like a women’s backstroker going right around 26.0. It was an incredible swim, and it powered Iron to second place.

Sprinters or IMer for 100 IM?

So far this season, we’ve seen two very different strategies for filling out the 100 IM. Some teams have tended to use their 200/400 IMers, hoping their versatility will translate down. Others have filled the race with their best sprinters, hoping speed will make up for a specific focus on IM.

At the top, results have mostly favored sprinters. Of the seven 100 IM winners so far, we’d consider Caeleb Dressel (2x winner), Vladimir Morozov, Marco Orsi, Sarah Sjostrom, Maria Kameneva and Runa Imai as sprinters. But today, Cali Condor Melanie Margalis added one win for the IMers – she’s definitely known more as a 200/400 IMer, but bested the field today with the ISL’s #2 time this year.

While the sprinters have been winning more often, IMers scored a lot of points today. The top three women’s finishers (Margalis, Abbie Wood, Meghan Small) are all probably better-known as IMers. We might be seeing a little disparity between the men’s event – where sprinteirs seem to dominate – and the women’s event, where IMers, even 400 IMers, have a better shot at placing highly.

Medley Relay Winners Have Won Every Skin Race

This is the first year of the ISL’s new rules allowing the winner of the medley relay to choose the stroke for the skin race. So far, the medley relay winners are 8-for-8 in skins wins, suggesting that teams are indeed picking ‘correctly’ and maximizing their strengths.

So far, Cali has won the women’s medley relay twice, first picking breaststroke and leading to a Lilly King win and then picking backstroke for an Olivia Smoliga win. London has won a women’s medley relay and got a backstroke win from Maria Kameneva, and LA won a women’s medley to set up a freestyle skin win for Beryl Gastaldello.

Meanwhile LA has won two men’s medley relays, funneling into two Ryan Murphy backstroke skins wins. London won and set up a Christian Diener backstroke win, and Iron kept the streak alive when Emre Sakci beat Dressel for the breaststroke skins win.

The Power of Rest

While superstars like Caeleb Dressel have pulled insanely crowded event lineups, teams are taking a wildly different tactic with their support swimmers. Today’s meet showed the benefits of selectively lightening a swimmer’s event load to set up for one big event, if they’re not  superstar who needs to fill lots of lineup gaps.

Here are a few examples:

  • Last week, Cali used Townley Haas in a tough two-event combo on day 1: the men’s 4×100 free relay into the 400 free after only a short session break. Haas was great in the relay (46.60) but very disappointing in the 400 (3:52.37 and jackpotted out of points). So this week, the Condors pulled Haas out of the 400 free on day 1. His free relay split improved two tenths, and he was able to pull off a 200 free win the following day with one of the league’s best times.
  • While Sakci swam quite a bit on day 1, Iron rested him up on day 2, entering only the 100 breast and the skin race, which he won with flying colors.
  • Olivia Smoliga qualifies as a superstar, but even she took a lighter event load today to get ready for the skins. Smoliga swam only the 100 back and did not swim on the mixed free relay. It paid off with a dominating skins win. Same goes for Beata Nelsonwho was second in that skin race.
  • The DC men elected to save Ian Finnerty for the skins, even keeping him out of the 100 breaststroke. He just missed the cuts in 5th place in the skins, but very nearly made the final round and did avoid getting jackpotted at the very least.

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1 month ago

Another one:
Dos Santos winning an ISL event at 40!

1 month ago

-So far, breaststrokers have had an advantage in skins because they can have clean breathing every single stroke, and pullouts don’t just fall off like underwater dolphin kicks when you’re tired. Maybe not a fair comparison, but still a fantastic swim for Sakci on round 3. Similar to King going 28.90 on round 3 in the first match. -As expected, Andrew has gotten a bit better. He got a bit more rest this meet, and he was top-4 in all his events today. -Could team training be affecting performance? The Breakers had a great showing yesterday while they weren’t as on fire today, while it was the other way around for Iron. Was the Trident weaker this meet because they… Read more »

Reply to  swimfan210_
1 month ago

great add-ons!

1 month ago

this is SUPER random, but I feel like it was a missed opportunity for David Nolan to miss out on the ISL. He would have thrived in this format. 12/12 NCAA individual finalist in his career.

Reply to  THEO
1 month ago

Felicia Lee, Janet Hu and Ally Howe would’ve been amazing in this format

Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Australian swimmers are loosing out on important racing!

Corn Pop
Reply to  Ropes
1 month ago

Doubt it bothers Australian s. Except for dingbat Melbourne, life is fine everywhere else .

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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