This past weekend, the ISL European Derby was every bit as thrilling as the previous weekend’s American Derby – featuring a close battle for 1st place between Energy Standard and the London Roar and a close battle for 3rd place between Team Iron and the Aqua Centurions. Energy Standard and Team Iron prevailed, respectively, and once again it really came down to the skins.
We at SwimSwam predicted a London Roar win at home, with Iron finishing third, and just like last week… this was a prediction that was looking pretty good. Energy had a strong start early on Day 1, building up to a 31 point lead. They had the opportunity to nearly put it away with the closing relay, but an early jump by Ivan Girev turned turned what would’ve been a 16 point edge against the Roar into a 6 point deficit. The Roar came out really strong in Day 2, taking over the lead and even pulling up to a 20.5 point lead in their own right through the 200 IMs.
Going into the skins, London still had a 16.5 point advantage over Energy and the Aqua Centurions had a 9.5 point advantage over Iron. With Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Vladimir Morozov on the roster, coupled with Aqua really having no sprint power on the women’s side, it wasn’t surprising to see Iron just take over – outscoring Aqua by 43.5 points over the final two events.
But London, even without Kyle Chalmers, still had Cate Campbell and Emma McKeon (each of whom had gotten 2nd in skins before) and a relatively rested Duncan Scott. Even with Sarah Sjostrom and Florent Manaudou for Energy, it was hard to guess how this would end up!
Here’s how exciting the finish was (and I’ll talk more about the Skins at the end). Kayla Sanchez _just_ out-touched Cate Campbell to known her out of the first round, and Ranomi Kromowidjojo only barely beat Emma McKeon to make it to the third. That reduced London’s lead to just 1.5 points.
That’s right. Exactly tied.
Which is something that really should’ve been displayed, somewhere, anywhere. But wasn’t. Maybe somebody, somewhere knew this, but I sure didn’t.
In any event, the whole meet came down to the second round of the men’s skins – Florent vs Duncan. When Vlad Morozov beat Scott by 0.16, it was over. Energy wins by 9 points, the margin of Manaudou (2nd – 21 pts) over Scott (3rd – 12 pts).
So as with last week, let’s take a look back throughout the whole meet and see how Energy won, even while DQing a relay (deja vu), and see where the Roar left points on the table. This one definitely could’ve gone either way; an officially-9 point margin is very tight.The Roar only had a single swim fail to meet the time standard, but that single swim was a relay: the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay of Vini Lanza, Peter Bernek, Finlay Knox, and Kirill Progoda managed just a 3:18.10, badly missing the time standard of 3:17.00, which cost them 2 points. This relay finished 7th (thanks to the Energy DQ), but was a full six seconds behind the Iron “B” relay.
London had another poor relay showing in the mixed freestyle relay, where while their “A” relay won their “B” relay managed just 7th place. With neither Chalmers nor Cameron McEvoy nor Elijah Winnington in attendance, the team turned to their breaststroke group to fill out some relay swims – with Prigoda splitting 51.68 in the former relay and Adam Peaty splitting 50.73 in the latter.
It’s worth interjecting at this point that really one of the great things about the ISL format is the opportunity for us to see some of the top swimmers in the world swim really off events for them, for the team. Peaty and Prigoda swimming freestyle, Cody Miller in the 50 fly, Zane Grothe in the 400 IM, Kathleen Baker returning to her breaststroke roots. It’s a long list.
Anyway, could the Roar have done something differently here?Let’s start with the mixed free relay. London had Guido and Diener in the 100 back immediately before the relay, and would have Guy and Lanza in the 200 fly after it (following the break). Taking those four out of contention only leaves three men that could’ve replaced Peaty: Finlay Knox, Peter Bernek, and Kirill Prigoda. After the 51.6 split the day before, Prigoda should probably be out of consideration.
Bernek only swam the 400 free (~45 minutes earlier) and Knox only had the 200 IM (~20 minutes earlier) thaty day, and they had split 49.7 and 48.8, respectively, on the freestyle relay the day before. Either one probably would’ve been capable of the 50.5 necessary to put London ahead of Iron “B”, but would either have managed the 49.2 necessary to also pass the Aqua “B” relay? It’s not a sure thing, but it’s not unreasonable. The more surprising choice to me is Prigoda anchoring that freestyle relay immediately following the 200 breaststroke, instead of choosing either Guido or Diener – who in addition to just more likely being faster freestylers, also had the luxury of an additional ~15 minutes rest and after a shorter race (the 50m back).
All it would’ve taken to avoid the penalty is a 50.5, and the pair swam their 100m backs in 49.8 and 50.8. Another relay problem was in the men’s medley relay. London finished 2-5 to Energy’s 1-4, in part due to Energy’s Simonas Bilis outsplitting a tired Duncan Scott 46.57 to 47.28 (Energy won by 0.42). Given that Scott went on to split a 45.87 in the last relay and a 46.48 the next day when he had more rest, it seems that putting him in the 50 free immediately before the relay was a mistake (especially easy to say given that he finished 7th in that 50 free). Had London won this relay, that’s an 8 point swing against Energy. Altogether, and this is a net 12 or 14 points London could’ve gained (and remember Energy only won by 9*).
Moving past the relays, there were several really really close finishes by London, which I’ll just run through real quick (and some of these close finishes hurt especially since they were to Energy swimmers):* Marie Wattel lost to Sarah Sjostrom in the 100 fly by 0.06 (2 points).
* Vini Lanza lost to Matteo Rivolta in the same event by 0.05
* Peaty was beat by Ilya Shymanovich in the 50 breast by 0.03 (2 points)
* Scott couldn’t quite run down Maxim Stupin in the 400 IM, just missing by 0.16 (2 points)
* McKeon got run down by Pellegrini in the 200 free by 0.04, and Heemskerk by 0.10 (3 points, potentially)
* Guy likewise got outtouched by le Clos in the 200 free by 0.04 (2 points)
* Guido couldn’t quite 3-peat in the 100 back, losing at the very end to Rylov by 0.11. And likewise, Diener got outtouched by Kolesnikov by 0.04. This was especially brutal, and could’ve been a 6 point swing.
If all of these races went London’s way instead (and they definitely all could have, these are pretty small margins), that’s another 18 point gain on Energy.Every. Point. Counts.But even with the bad touches (or great touches by Energy), and the relay misfortunes, this still came down to the wire. In the first round of the womens skins, Energy’s Kayla Sanchez out-touched London’s Cate Campbell by 0.04 to make it into the second round. Sanchez ended up finishing 4th — that 0.04 margin was a 12 point swing all by itself. And then Kromowidjojo only beat McKeon by 0.11 in the second round (a much larger margin to be sure, but not outside the realm of possible). A little bit faster by McKeon there, and even if Sjostrom wins, that would’ve been a net 3 point gain for London (or 15, on the chance McKeon went on to win).Even without some key players (Kyle Chalmers in this format is a huge loss, but missing Winnington and McEvoy was a huge hit to relay depth as well), this was still London’s meet to lose. Even had Energy not DQed their relay, London had every chance to win – just slipped one close finish after another.With full depth, and a slightly less overused Duncan Scott, London is going to be a very hard team to beat in Vegas.