Analyzing the 2020 ISL Schedule: No Regular-Season Energy/London Showdown

The International Swimming League announced its 2020 regular season schedule on Monday morning. With the October 16th start of the season less than 2 weeks away, that’s the best look provided so far by the upstart professional swimming league as to what, exactly, the 2020 season will look like.

Each team will swim 4 total meets during the regular season. Based on last year’s scoring system, within each of those meets, the highest-placing team will receive 4 standings points, the 2nd-place team will receive 3 standings points, the 3rd-place team will receive 2 standings points, and the 4th-place team will receive 1 standings point.

At the end of the regular season, the 8 teams with the most points will advance to the semi-finals, and the top 4 teams from those meets will advance to the final.

The ISL has not yet announced how teams will advance for the 2020 season, and if there will be any groupings as there was in season 1 or if it will simply be the 8 best teams.

Schedule Matrix

A cursory look at the schedule indicates no obvious groupings by continent.

Each team will compete on 4 of the league’s 5 weekends, getting 1 weekend off. Each weekend will have 2 meets: one that runs Friday-Saturday, and another that runs Sunday-Monday.

Below you will find a table that shows each team’s opponent counts for the 2020 season. Note that each meet is represented twice: once above the diagonal, and once below it.


  • Unlike many leagues, where the best teams in one season get the toughest schedules in the next, the defending champions Energy Standard have escaped any big challenges in the 2020 regular season. They won’t face the defending runners-up London Roar in the regular season, and will have 2 meets against last season’s last-place team the New York Breakers, plus 3 against the expansion Toronto Titans. It likely won’t matter much – after a number of high-level swimmers, especially from Italy and Australia, have withdrawn from the season, Energy Standard is expected to easily win the 2020 title, unless something dramatic changes.
  • That dramatic change could come in the form of a return of Australian swimmers for December’s championship meet at a to-be-determined location. There are indications on the ISL website that this could happen, with a number of Australian swimmers still listed on rosters, albeit in red. Sources have told SwimSwam that this means that these swimmers are eligible to join the team in the post-season if the situation in Australia changes. As it is, London has had to cobble-together a roster that doesn’t stack up to what they had last season. This leaves them in a battle to even qualify for the semi-finals or finals, especially with a tough schedule that includes 2 meets each against the Cali Condors and LA Current: the top teams on the American side.
  • There are 3 occasions in which teams will face of 3 times: Energy Standard vs. Toronto Titans, Cali Condors vs. New York Breakers, and DC Trident vs. Iron. Of those 3 matchups, DC Trident vs. Iron is the most interesting, with those teams having finished 3rd in their respective continental groups last year.
  • The two expansion franchises, Tokyo Frog Kings and Toronto Titans, will face off twice.
  • The New York Breakers have a front-loaded schedule, and with a November 7-8 regular season finale will be the first team to finish their regular season: a full weekend before the other teams wrap.
  • On the flip side, the LA Current, Tokyo Frog Kings, and Toronto Titans all won’t begin racing until the 2nd weekend of the season. For the Frog Kings and Titans, this provides an opportunity to observe and adapt to the ISL format, which we learned last season has a learning curve, especially when it comes to constructing lineups.
  • This timing could matter even more than expected in season 2 with the coronavirus protocols put in place. With the probability that some athletes will test positive before departing for Budapest, they could miss the first weekend of the season while trying to clear the testing protocol. On the flip side, if there is any spread within the Budapest camp (athletes are sort of quarantined, but allowed out into the public for up to 90 minutes at a time), then teams that have more meets early could benefit from missing any community spread on Margaret Island.
Energy Standard London Roar Cali Condors LA Current Iron DC Trident Aqua Centurions NY Breakers Toronto Titans Tokyo Frog Kings
Energy Standard 0 1 1 2 1 1 2 3 1
London Roar 0 2 2 1 2 2 1 0 2
Cali Condors 1 2 2 1 1 1 3 0 1
LA Current 1 2 2 0 1 2 1 1 2
Iron 2 1 1 0 3 1 1 2 1
DC Trident 1 2 1 1 3 1 1 1 1
Aqua Centurions 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 2 1
NY Breakers 2 1 3 1 1 1 1 1 1
Toronto Titans 3 0 0 1 2 1 2 1 2
Tokyo Frog Kings 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 2

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3 years ago

Was a good idea until it all suddenly became too big and too complicated to follow .. I just want straight swimming racing not the fancy bells and whistles to confuse the matter .. turning it into a circus show

Reply to  Verram
3 years ago

I was gonna comment until I saw that you said everything that needs to be said

Last edited 3 years ago by Olympian
3 years ago

Non-swimmer and swimmer fans bout to be very confused.

3 years ago

Seems uneven. Why are some teams finishing a whole week before others? Why are some teams meeting three times and others not at all?

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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