The London Roar came into the International Swimming League’s Vegas Final as the big favorites on paper, and late in the match, appeared well on their way to victory. But, a late charge from Energy Standard bumped London down to second place, losing to their European rival by 9.5 points.
The main reason the Roar failed to win despite a large statistical advantage coming in? Failure to win the close races.
0.1% is a tiny margin. That’s roughly one hundredth of a second per length of the pool. Over a 200, we’re talking about a tenth of a second. A total nothing margin. Swimming is not a sport that has a lot of randomness in it – doesn’t matter how many times you could rerun that men’s 400 IM, Daiya Seto is winning it by a mile every time. But on some of these close race, it really could be anyone’s game.
And in these super close races, London had the fewest close wins and the most close losses.
You could say that Energy won the Finale with Ben Proud beating Kyle Chalmers by 0.11 in the 1st round of the men’s skins. But that’s five times the margin I’m talking about here. And those 11 close losses ended up costing the Roar 25 points against Energy in the team standing.
The most notable of those was the mixed freestyle relay. Energy Standard’s team of Simonas Bilis, Sergey Shevtsov, Kayla Sanchez, and Penny Oleksiak outtouched the London team squad of Kyle Chalmers, Duncan Scott, Bronte Campbell, and Emma McKeon by just 0.06. That is an 8 point swing in Energy’s favor – remember they won the whole meet by only 9.5. Energy’s relay take offs were not great (0.85 total), but they still got a full tenth on London (0.95) in that department.
The next most notable was the women’s 50 free, where Energy’s Sarah Sjostrom beat out London star Cate Campbell by just 0.02. Again, not just a close loss for London – but a close loss to Energy and for the win. Had this gone the other way, that’s another 4 point swing.
Those two races – losses by a combined 0.08 – account for more than Energy’s margin of victory. When every point counts, every finish counts.
The other losses by less than 0.1% for London:
McKeon to Shkurdai by 0.01 in the 100 Fly (2 points to Energy)
Barratt to Masse and Baker by 0.01 in the 50 Back (2 points)
Prigoda to Prenot and Matthew Wilson to Chupkov in the 200 Breast by 0.04 and 0.11 respectively (3 points)
LON 2 to CAC 2 by 0.03 in the men’s freestyle relay (2 points)
Prigoda to Fink in the 100 Breast by 0.03 (1 point)
Belmonte to Flickinger in the 400 Free by 0.04 (1 point)
Lanza to Conger in the 50 Fly by 0.01 (1 point)
Hibbott to Dahlia in the 200 Fly by 0.12 (1 point)