5 Storylines For ISL’s Match #5: Three High-Ranked Teams Collide

2020 International Swimming League – Match 5


1 Cali Condors CAC 2 4 4 8
=2 Iron IRO 2 3 3 6
=2 LA Current LAC 2 2 4 6
4 London Roar LON 1 4 4
=5 DC Trident DCT 2 2 1 3
=5 Energy Standard ENS 1 3 3
=5 NY Breakers NYB 2 1 2 3
=5 Tokyo Frog Kings TOK 1 3 3
=9 Aqua Centurions AQC 2 1 1 2
=9 Toronto Titans TOR 1 2 2

1. #3 LA, #4 Tokyo & #5 London Jockeying For Standing

This one is going to be a very even match at the top – something we haven’t really seen since Energy and Cali’s battle in match #1. We’ve got three of our top five teams in our Week 2 Power Ranks, and we should get some clarity on their order after this week.

London won a lopsided victory against a weak field in week 1. LA nipped Tokyo in week 2 while London was on bye. The finish order could be any permutation of the three this week.

2. Battle of the Backstrokers

That team battle might turn on one set of events: the men’s backstrokes.

It’s a relative strength for all three of those teams. LA has Ryan Murphythe current series MVP points leader and winner of the 50 back skin race in both of his appearances so far. The current also have sprint specialist Zane Waddell, though he hasn’t competed yet and it’s unclear if he’ll swim this weekend or not.

London currently has two of the top 3 swimmers in the league in the 50 back, with ISL leader Christian Diener and ISL record-holder (with his 22.55 from last year) Guilherme GuidoDiener has also previously won a skins race.

And even Tokyo is fairly strong, with reliable veteran Ryosuke Iriecurrently the #3 swimmer in the league in the 100 back and #5 in the 200 back. DC adds in Jacob Pebleywho won the 100 back in Monday’s week 2 match and sits tied with Irie for 5th in the league in the 200 back.

3. Can DC Stay Unbeaten in Mixed Relay?

Speaking of the Trident, they’ll be in a tough spot for team points this week, but have a chance to extend their unbeaten streak in the mixed 4×100 free relay this season. DC beat London by two tenths in week 1 and went more than a second faster to win on Monday.

That relay has been buoyed by league 100 free leader Zach Applebut swimmers have stepped up across the roster to fill in that relay squad. DC probably gets its toughest test this week: the Trident have been 3:17.60 for the #3 time in the league this year, but LA was 3:17.64 in their week 2 match.

4. London Roar Get Reinforcements

London dominated in week 1, and they got even more top swimmers ready to go over their week 2 bye.

James Guy, Freya Anderson, Holly Hibbott and Tom Dean were all held out of match #2 through contact tracing from a coronavirus case in their British training base before the ISL season. All four are expected to be able to return this week and shouldn’t feel any ill effects of their absence – none of the four tested positive for COVID and were only held out due to contact tracing protocols.

Guy is probably the team’s best 400 freestyler, boosting an event where London was 6th and 8th in week 1. Dean is likely the team’s #2 entrant there, and last week they had to resort to using flyer Vini Lanza and backstroker Elliot Clogg to fill that event.

Anderson might have the highest impact – she sits atop the team’s depth chart in the 200 free and should be a huge relay boost in the 100 free. Hibbott is probably the team’s best 400 freestyler on the women’s side, and the 200 free might ultimately feature both Anderson and Hibbott despite Marie Wattel and Siobhan-Marie O’Connor going 1-4 last week.

5. Key Medley Relay Showdowns

The medley relay takes on special significance this year, with the winning team picking the stroke for the skin race. Match #5 might have some of the closest medley relay matchups we’ve seen so far. Here’s a look at the season-long ranks of all ten teams and their best medley relays, with match #5 teams bolded:


Team Time
1 Cali Condors 3:47.92
2 Energy Standard 3:48.81
3 LA Current 3:50.05
4 London Roar 3:50.27
5 Toronto Titans 3:50.57
6 DC Trident 3:51.26
7 Tokyo Frog Kings 3:51.65
8 NY Breakers 3:51.89
9 Iron 3:53.66
10 Aqua Centurions 3:55.22


Team Time
1 LA Current 3:21.85
2 Tokyo Frog Kings 3:22.83
3 Aqua Centurions 3:22.96
4 London Roar 3:23.18
5 Energy Standard 3:23.33
6 Iron 3:24.81
7 Toronto Titans 3:25.40
8 DC Trident 3:25.70
9 Cali Condors 3:26.06
10 NY Breakers 3:26.17

The women’s medley should be a thriller, with LA and London just tenths apart in season-bests. The men’s race pits the two best medleys in the league against one another.

We also saw most teams get quite a bit faster in the relays in their second matches – perhaps with more data points to use when selecting relay lineups. That could give a boost to Tokyo and London, who will be in just their second meet this weekend.

Women’s Skin choices

When LA won last weeks’ medley, they chose freestyle. That’s probably a good choice again, as it takes advantage of Tokyo’s weakness and a just OK area for London.

Tokyo would have a tough call. They don’t have one clear sprint standout on the women’s side. Breaststroke is a strength for them, but probably a better strength for London with Alia Atkinson in the mix. Tokyo’s choice might come down to (1) which of their swimmers has the hot hand on Friday and (2) which team they’re in the closest battle with. Picking breaststroke would help London but really hurt LA. Picking backstroke might be Tokyo’s best choice, but also aligns with strengths for LA and London. Picking fly probably helps LA and hurts London.

Men’s Skin choices

LA has won the men’s medley twice, choosing backstroke in both showings. The presence of London and it’s great backstroke group could sway that decision, but probably wouldn’t change LA’s choice. A London relay upset might let the Roar pick breaststroke, because even though their backstrokers are great, they might have more of an advantage over LA in breaststroke.

If Tokyo wins, though, we’d almost certainly see them go after freestyle. It’s a relative weakness for London and just an OK event for LA. Tokyo, meanwhile, has last year’s multi-meet skin champ Vladimir Morozov.

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3 years ago

It’s amazing to me that teams are already having rematches with LAC having their third match while ENS still hasn’t swam again since match 1. What is ISL trying to achieve by having such a strange schedule?

Reply to  Troyy
3 years ago

It’s strategically arranged for each team to have one bye week before the champs, but they all take their bye weeks at different times. Having 2 teams per week compete does seem to give an illusion of a longer wait. Energy has not competed for 4 matches (first match of a week, 2 meets off during bye week, one match off waiting for the second meet of the week) the longest wait possible. It feels like we’ve missed them for longer than we actually have.

Reply to  swimfan210_
3 years ago

I’m sure the ISL can make improvements with the schedule. Perhaps teams coming out of a bye can compete in the first matchup of the following week.

The biggest improvement they can make is to ensure every team faces each other at least once among their 4 matches.

3 years ago

ISL is awesome, it’s always got something going on, feels like the last meet finished just yesterday. Speed, strategy, spirit, all coming together in the ISL (sounds like an ad or intro).

This meet will be key to shaking things up, if it does happen. The power rankings seem pretty solid for now, but this could change everything. After having weak opponents in match 2, we’ll get to see London Roar’s true ability. LA and Tokyo will have a rematch. Can the Trident have a statement meet to move up in the battle for semifinals, after having a disappointing season so far?

3 years ago

I like LON’s chances to win the medley relay. They had a 53 free split in match 1 and were still only 0.22s slower than LA. Anyone know if Anderson’s was still able to train when quarantining? They’ll need to win the women’s medley relay and skins to have a chance against LAC I think.

Last edited 3 years ago by Troyy
3 years ago

Anyone think ES will rest sjostrom for one of the three matches they have left?

Reply to  DiscoDobber
3 years ago

She never seems to get tired and is always ready to swim fast… so I think no.

3 years ago

For Backstroke, Murphy has to take on and beat Irie, Guido, Diener to make it through. I think he can, but that’s only one swimmer through and tough odds to win.

I would think LA would go with fly off Rooney and Shields. There are challengers to them, Kawamota, Kusch, mizunuma, but that’s not nearly the same challenge as in back. Imo way better chance to get both to the semi, shields to win.

Don’t get me wrong, as a spectator back skins here could be the best racing we have seen so far, but from tactical if LA gets to choose, I see safety in fly.

3 years ago

Why hasn’t Zane competed yet?

Reply to  Safari
3 years ago

There hasn’t been any public explanation for why, so it may just be ‘coach’s choice.’ Remember that each team has to leave 2 men and 2 women on their bench in any given meet.

Reply to  Safari
3 years ago

Waddell? From a comment from another meet, someone said he was having trouble having a passport that contains his Hungarian VISA delivered.

3 years ago

Our take on storylines 🤣


About time
Reply to  TheSwimSuitGuy
3 years ago

Awesome! The patriotic commentary was the best!

Reply to  TheSwimSuitGuy
3 years ago

These are always awesome

3 years ago

Hyped for men’s backstroke!

Reply to  Joe
3 years ago

Beardless Guido I hope

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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