2019 INTERNATIONAL SWIMMING LEAGUE – EUROPEAN DERBY
- Saturday, November 23 – Sunday, November 24, 2019
- 5:00-7:00 PM Local Time (12:00 noon – 2:00 PM, U.S. Eastern Time)
- London Aquatics Centre – London, England
- Short Course Meters (SCM) format
- European franchises: Aqua Centurions, Energy Standard, Iron, London Roar
- Viewers Guide
The London Roar will be a little short-handed at the European Derby stop of the International Swimming League (ISL) this weekend, though they’re still the favorites to take home the title.
London will host the derby at the London Aquatics Centre that was previously used for the Olympic Games in front of a sold-out crowd. Racing will be held Saturday, November 23rd and Sunday, November 24th starting at 5:00 PM local time (noon U.S. Eastern time).
London will have just 12 men and 11 women on their team for the derby, short of the maximum 14 men and 14 women allowed (including 2 of each gender who are relay-only swimmers). While most of the team’s big stars will be in tow, fewer athletes will put more pressure and allow less flexibility in lineups, especially on the women’s side. Each team has 52 “swims” to fill per gender, meaning that on average, London’s women’s swimmers will have to race almost 5 events each.
Of the team’s 8 missing swimmers for the derby meet, 5 are Australian – which follows a pattern we saw in the U.S. Derby as well, where several Australians are missing. While no reason was given for their absence, this weekend is the Swimming Australia annual awards ceremony.
Among the missing swimmers are the defending Olympic champion in the 100 free Kyle Chalmers, Cam McEvoy, and Elijah Winnington on the men’s side. On the women’s side, the team will be without Australians Jess Hansen and Taylor McKeown. The other missing swimmers are Spanish Olympic champion Mireia Belmonte, who has only raced in one meet for London this season, in Budapest; Britain’s Holly Hibbott; and Brazil’s Bruno Fratus (though Fratus was only ever committed to 1 meet anyway).
Based on MVP scoring (which only gives a 50% multiplier for Skins races and divides relay points equally among all participants), they lose the #2 swimmer from Budapest Chalmers, who was a surprise winner of the skins race there.
There are some big names included on that list of absences, like McEvoy and Belmonte, but on an individual level none were massive contributors in Budapest. It’s the loss of depth, though, that will hurt the Roar: in total, that group combined for 98.5 points in Budapest, where Fratus and Hibbott both didn’t race.
The Roar, however, will also get some reinforcements in the form of the ISL debuts for Duncan Scott and Siobhan-Marie O’Connor. Scott, who at last summer’s World Championships was the individual bronze medalist in the 200 free, should help soften the blow from the loss of Chalmers. At last weekend’s British University & Colleges Championships (BUCS) he showed off his range with 15 races in 48 hours, including a record-setting 200 fly. Long known as a world-class freestyler, Scott has really developed into a well-rounded swimmer over the last year who should contribute mightily in the ISL format.
Scott’s Lifetime Bests:
O’Connor likewise adds versatility for the Roar. She’ll soften the blow from the loss of Belmonte, who after a lot of recent health issues really didn’t live up to the potential that she might’ve had in this format earlier in her career. O’Connor is the two-time defending Commonwealth Games champion in the 200 IM, and she was 7th in that event at the 2019 World Championships.
In full form, O’Connor is MVP caliber, though she’s unlikely to challenge for a skins title, which does make MVP an uphill climb.
O’Connor’s Lifetime Bests:
Between them, the pair holds 14 British National Records, and so if nothing else, they should bring some cheers from the home crowd.
The team will also be boosted by the return of Matthew Wilson to the lineup. Another Australian, Wilson raced in the season-opener in Lewisville before missing the Budapest meet as the debut of Adam Peaty gave the Roar a glut of breaststrokers. In Lewisville, he was 6th in the 100 breast, 4th in the 200 IM, 4th in the 50 breast, and won the 200 breast – his specialty where this summer he tied the long course World Record.
It’s not clear where he fits in to the team at this meet, aside from spelling Peaty from the 200 breast (he was 3rd in that race in Budapest). But, with 3 breaststrokers, that puts even more pressure upon the Roar’s thin lineup, meaning that we’ll likely see at least one of those breaststrokers forced into an unexpected spot this weekend.
Returning for the Roar in London will be, among others, Adam Peaty, the World Record holder who won both the 50 and 100 breaststrokes in Budapest; and Emma McKeon, who has turned into one of the surprises of this series. McKeon ranked 4th in MVP scoring in Budapest and has 6 individual event wins to her credit in 3 meets.
By way of winning each of their first 2 meets, the Roar should, along with Energy Standard, have no problem advancing to the Las Vegas finale in December. All they need to do is not finish last, and they’ve secured a spot in the championship meet. Even if they did, it would have to be last place by a massive margin for them to be eliminated.
London Roar Roster, 2019 ISL – European Derby
|James Guy||Minna Atherton|
|Adam Peaty||Holly Barratt|
|Duncan Scott||Emma McKeon|
|Alex Graham||Cate Campbell|
|Matt Wilson||Bronte Campbell|
|Peter Bernek||Sydney Pickrem|
|Finlay Knox||Sarah Vasey|
|Vini Lanza||Marie Wattel|
|Yuri Kisil||Boglarka Kapas|