Olympic medalists Chase Kalisz and Leah Smith are scheduled to make their International Swimming League debuts this weekend for the LA Current during the US Derby meet at the University of Maryland. Racing will begin at 2PM Eastern Time on Saturday, November 16th, and continue at the same time on Sunday.
Kalisz (unexplained) and Smith (aggravated neck) both missed the team’s opening stops in Lewisville, Texas and Budapest in October, but both are on the roster that the LA Current sent to SwimSwam on Monday ahead of the team’s final regular season meet this weekend in Maryland. Kalisz, an IMer, was the 2016 Olympic silver medalist in the 400 IM and the 2017 World Champion in both the 200 and 400 IM. He took a step back in 2019, winning just 1 medal, in the 200 IM, at the World Championships, but will still be one of the top 2 IMers at the US Derby.
His biggest competition in those races will come from the DC Trident, which boast both Abrahm Devine and 2019 Worlds silver medalist in the 400 IM Jay Litherland on their roster. In Naples, Litherland won the 400 IM, and the Trident m got a little bit of a surprise victory when Andreas Vazaios tied for the win in the 200 IM.
Kalisz is also one of the most versatile swimmers in the world at distances 200 meters or more, and could conceivably fill-in spots for the Current in the 200 fly, 200 back, or 200 breast with a chance for top 3 points. Of those races, the team’s biggest need is probably the 200 back this week, though they’re in pretty good shape overall.
On the women’s side, the addition of Smith to the roster fills a big weakness for the Current. They went 4-8 with Katie McLaughlin and Anastasia Gorbenko racing the event in Budapest, and 2-8 in the 400 IM with Bailey Andison and Katie McLaughlin in the race at the same meet. Smith should net out at least an extra 7 or 8 points for the Current in those events in DC.
Andison, who was a last-minute addition for the Current but came up big in Budapest when she pushed Katinka Hosszu to the wire in the 400 IM, will race again in DC, even as the team gets IMer Ella Eastin back.
The Current will see a lot of big names return to the lineup after they took a thin roster to Europe for meet 2. A few notable absences in Budapest slid them behind the hosts Iron at that meet into 3rd, place, though that 3rd-place finish was still enough to all-but-guarantee them a spot in the final in Las Vegas.
The biggest absence from the roster is 3-time Olympic gold medalist and World Record holding backstroke Ryan Murphy, who scored 22 individual points and swam on 2 relays for the Current in Budapest. The Current announced late last week that they would add Irish backstroker and sprint freestyler Shane Ryan, who has had some really good performances in short course over the last few weeks to their roster. Ryan will couple with Matt Grevers for the Current backstrokers.
The team will also be without Murphy’s fellow Cal Bear Nathan Adrian as they’re again only going to have 13 swimmers in DC – 1 less than the minimum. The team’s other Cal post-grads, Tom Shields, Josh Prenot, and Andrew Seliskar, are scheduled to compete.
Key Swimmers Missing:
While those absences are significant, they probably still leave the Current in 2nd place in the meet – behind the Cali Condors, but ahead of the DC Trident (who are also expected to be missing a few big name) and the New York Breakers.
LA Current Roster, US Derby Meet, University of Maryland
|Chase Kalisz||Bailey Andison|
|Dylan Carter||Kathleen Baker|
|Michael Chadwick||Amy Bilquist|
|Jack Conger||Ella Eastin|
|Matt Grevers||Beryl Gastaldello|
|Ryan Held||Margo Geer|
|Felipe Lima||Annie Lazor|
|Shane Ryan||Linnea Mack|
|Blake Pieroni||Katie Mclaughlin|
|Josh Prenot||Farida Osman|
|Andrew Seliskar||Leah Smith|
|Tom Shields||Kendyl Stewart|