5 Big Things From ISL Match #6


1. Sjostrom’s absence allows Shkurdia & Banic to Rise

We see it across sports all the time: an established star sidelined due to injury can often be an opening for a new star to rise.

Energy Standard was swimming without reigning league MVP Sarah Sjostrom today – she’s dealing with back pain, though she said on the broadcast that she hoped to be back in the mix for week 4. Her absence, though, created an opening for Energy Standard to find two new young swimmers rising up the ranks.

17-year-old Anastasiya Shkurdai filled in for Sjostrom in the 100 fly on day 1, not only winning in Sjostrom’s absence but besting Sjostrom’s season-best and taking over the ISL lead. On day 2, Shkurdai took over the 100 IM for Sjostrom, going 58.34 for a key Energy Standard win. She’s just six tenths off of Sjostrom’s ISL record there.

And in the 50 fly, free agent signee Maddy Banic exploded for a 24.97 win. That’s faster than Sjostrom’s best time this year, and moves Banic to #4 in the ISL this season. Banic was also second in yesterday’s 100 fly and sits #2 in the entire league behind Shkurdai for the season.

Banic didn’t even get to swim individually in week 1. But given an opportunity in week 3, she’s made a strong case to be a regular in the lineup moving forward.

2. Free Agents Szabo, Haughey & Ryan Making Most of New Settings

We saw three free agent additions stand out for their respective teams today, showing the importance of off-season personnel moves in the budding league.

Szebaztian Szabo was a standout for Iron last year, but he’s been a game-changer for the Aqua Centurions in 2020. Unbeaten in the 50 fly last year, Szabo has won three more 50 fly races this year to remain undefeated for his career. Szabo also came within one round of winning the 50 free skins today, and finished the meet tied for #2 in overall MVP points.

He’s the highest individual scorer in the league so far this year who has not won an individual meet MVP title. Szabo sits #3 across the entire league in scoring, though Aqua has the advantage of swimming three meets so far compared to just two for a number of the league’s teams with an earlier bye week.

Meanwhile Siobhan Haughey was the top swimmer for the DC Trident last year, going 3-for-3 in the 200 free and placing 30th in the league in MVP points despite not getting to swim in the final. She’s stepped up her game even further for Energy Standard, winning today’s MVP title without even competing in the skins. Haughey is undefeated in two 200 frees so far this year and swimming inside the top 10 in series MVP points with just two meets swum.

Shane Ryan swam just one meet for the LA Current last year, and it wasn’t a great showing. In the U.S. Derby, Ryan took two DQs in four races and scored just ten points. He led off a medley relay that DQ’d on the back-to-breast exchange, then took a DQ in the 50 back. He would later swim on a second-place 400 free relay and take second in the 100 back.

But this year, Ryan has been on a whole different level for Toronto. He went 50.45 for a key 100 back win today after winning the 50 back earlier in the meet. His 50 fly late in the meet today broke an Irish record, though he was just 7th overall. He was a big reason why Toronto clearly bested New York for second place and should now pretty much be locked into a post-season berth as one of the league’s top 8 teams.

3. Kapas & Chimrova Break Through For NY

The Breakers got a breakthrough from Boglarka Kapas and Svetlana Chimrova in the 200 fly. They’ve been on the cusp of a breakout win for awhile now.

Chimrova was second in the season opener to Hali Flickinger, who has never lost a 200 fly in the ISL. The next week, Chimrova was once again second to Flickinger and Kapas moved up to 4th overall.

This time around, the duo torched the field in the back half for a 1-2 finish, a huge points boost to New York. They sit #4 and #5 in the league this year in the 200 fly and should be a match for any team besides Flickinger’s Condors and the Tokyo Frog Kings, who have two of the league’s top three swimmers in the event.

4. Toronto Backstrokers Carry Titans

We mentioned Shane Ryan, but the Toronto Titans really got the most out of their women’s backstrokers.

Kylie Masse could have been mentioned above as another dominating free agent acquisition. She scored triple-digit individual points across last season for the Cali Condors, but already has 88 through two matches this year for the expansion franchise Titans.

This week, Masse swept the 50 back and 100 back while taking second in a 1-2 Titans finish in the 200 back behind teammate Lisa BrattonMasse also staked the Titans to a 0.8-second lead in the medley relay as the team won by 0.4 yesterday. And with that win, the Titans were able to pick backstroke for the skins, allowing Masse to win all three rounds and nab 38 points, six of them from jackpots. Masse crushed the field for her first skins win and finished 4th in the match in MVP points.

5. Rapsys Dominating Distance Free

ISL rookie Danas Rapsys looks like a contender for rookie of the year. After obliterating the ISL record with a 3:35.49 win in the 400 free yesterday, the Lithuanian went 1:41.23 in the 200 free today to crush his second league record. He leads the ISL ranks in the 200 free by half a second and in the 400 free by almost two seconds.

Despite swimming just two events, he finished 23rd in the match in MVP points, jackpotting four total swimmers across his two events.

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2 years ago

I’m so happy for Banic after all her struggles

2 years ago

Does anyone else feel that the jackpot times are too hard to get for the distance events? Like Rapsys was more in control of those races than the 50s that get huge points?

Also, I think SS and M Litchfield sitting out brings up the question about good teams resting swimmers. Like does ES need to swim its studs in match 7? They could definitely win without a few of them, and it’s not clear that they would even materially benefit from winning. I bet the league would be pissed though, so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle that.

Reply to  CACrushers
2 years ago

The 50s are too easy to jackpot.

2 years ago

Szabo looking scary good in the sprint fly.

Reply to  Sandorelli
2 years ago

Am looking forward to Dressel vs Szabo. AQC and CAC only meet once in the final week of the season.

2 years ago

SS’s absence hopefully provide the proof needed that ISL as a professional league in this format does bring more opportunities to more swimmers, especially those that do not necessary thrive in the traditional FINA setting (LCM, WC/Olympics) or have the means to travel for FINA World Cups.

tbh, I don’t know or recognize Shkurdai or Banic (name or what stroke they swim) until this match 6.
Tom Shields is another good example that some swimmers thrive in this format. It is clear not all LCM swimmers translate as well to SCM with short turn around between races.

The pandemic and postponement of Olympics are real bummer for swimmers and fans. But the silver lining is that they give ISL… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by Spectatorn
Corn Pop
Reply to  Spectatorn
2 years ago

Skurdai was one of the top LC fliers in 2019. She’s a bit stronger in SC this year .

Reply to  Spectatorn
2 years ago

shame on me to have no idea all the ups and downs that Banic had gone through. Bravo for her mental strength and achievements!

2 years ago

Expected an article about Szabo 50 fly.

Is it 2nd all time now?

Reply to  Rafael
2 years ago

4th best swim and 3rd best athlete ever.

1 Nicholas Santos (BRA) 21.75 2018
2 Steffen Deibler (GER) 21.80 2009
3 Nicholas Santos (BRA) 21.81 2018
4 Szebasztian Szabo (HUN) 21.86 2020

Last edited 2 years ago by tkrisz
Be fair.
2 years ago

Glad to see Shane Ryan finally getting some recognition. Even now with placing 1st last week, yesterday & today its only the one announcer that will mention Shane, LA should have kept him. Can you imagine RM & him together! Good eye Toronto for picking him up!! Someone on that team knows a good Backstroker when they see it!

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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