2020 INTERNATIONAL SWIMMING LEAGUE
- Duna Arena – Budapest, Hungary
- Short Course Meters (SCM) format
- ISL Technical Handbook
- 2020 ISL Scoring Format
- 2020 ISL Prize Money and Bonuses
- Omega Results
The ISL’s 2020 season has wrapped, and it’s time for SwimSwam’s end-of-season awards:
Swimmer of the Year: Caeleb Dressel, Cali Condors
It would be hard to justify anyone else here. Even if you depart from the ISL’s rigid adherence to MVP points as the sole determiner of the league’s top swimmer, Dressel can counter with a ridiculous 24 individual event wins and 29 total wins. Those five relay victories are especially significant, given that Dressel was carrying the Cali men on his back for most of the season. He was the league’s top scorer, and terrified teams in the skins so badly that every single team picked ‘away’ from his best events everytime they swam the Condors.
Honorable mentions: Lilly King, Beryl Gastaldello, Ryan Murphy
Rookie of the Year: Emre Sakci, Iron
Another clear-cut standout. Sakci was a dominator in the breaststrokes this year, winning all five of his meets in the 50 breast. He finishes with the league’s best 50 breast by a solid margin, and is the ISL record-holder with his 25.29. If his Iron team had made the final, we could have seen a world record attempt by a fully-rested Sakci. He also had a chunk of the year where he led the league in the 100 breast, though he ultimately faded to 3rd in the league as others soared over the postseason.
Honorable mentions: Benedetta Pilato, Yui Ohashi
Breakout Swimmer of the Year: Freya Anderson, London Roar
Sakci could have been in contention for this one, too, but there is no shortage of breakout candidates. Anderson was a game-changer for the London Roar this season, arriving during the team’s week 2 bye and effectively re-energizing the Roar relays into league contenders.
Here’s a look at all of Anderson’s swims this year – she dipped into the 50-points as many times as anyone else in the league on 100 freestyle splits, and was a consistent force week-in and week-out:
|100 FR||100 FR (Relay Leadoff)||100 FR (Relay Split)||200 FR||50 FR||50 BR Skins|
Race of the Year: Women’s 100 Free – ISL Final
It was an especially pivotal moment of the season. Defending champs Energy Standard were in a precarious position, trailing the Cali Condors by 17.5 points. But the event schedule probably broke a little bit better in day 2, and Energy also had shots to win both skin races to close the day. All they needed was a momentum boost to kickstart the day.
Siobhan Haughey was coming off of an ISL record 50.94 in the 100 free the day before, done while leading off the women’s 400 free relay. But the field was also stacked. LA’s Beryl Gastaldello sat #2 in league ranks for the year at 51.16. London’s Freya Anderson had just led off a 400 free relay in 51.43 and anchored a medley in 50.44. Energy Standard’s Sarah Sjostrom was #3 in league ranks (51.17) and hadn’t lost a 100 free this season in five swims. LA’s Abbey Weitzeil (51.26) was also ranked in the top four in the league for the season.
In the very first event of day 2, Energy Standard made a fateful strategic decision to sit Sjostrom out of the 100 free. In theory, it allowed her to focus in on the 100 IM later in the session, with Femke Heemskerk more than capable of filling in on freestyle.
The race was as thrilling a showdown as we saw all year. Weitzeil led early, blazing out in a 24.49. But her LA Current teammate Gastaldello flew home, rocketing from 4th to 1st over the final 50 meters. Haughey went by Weitzeil and very nearly held off Gastaldello. Meanwhile Anderson went out too slow and was sitting 7th at the halfway turn, but roared back to wind up 4th.
The entire top four were separated by just .05 seconds in a brilliant photo finish. And the race was ultimately a missed opportunity for momentum for Energy Standard, which got just one event win in the opening 8-event session to start day 2, falling behind Cali and never making up the ground.
Performance of the Year: Dressel’s 49.28 WR in 100 IM
There are a number of ISL world records to pick from. This one is particularly impressive, though, because Dressel is nearly one full second ahead of the #2 performer in history (Vladimir Morozov at 50.26) and almost a second-and-a-half ahead of the #3 performer (Kliment Kolesnikov at 50.63). Dressel won this race in the ISL finale by almost two full seconds.
It also came as his 6th swim in a very busy event schedule, and happened in the very same event session as his 100 free win, showing remarkable toughness and also all-but-sealing the league title for his Cali Condors.
2020 Most Improved: Cali Condors Men
Through the regular season, the Cali Condor men ranked just 6th among 10 teams in the league in average scoring. The Cali men were brutal in the early weeks, scoring just 173 points in week 1 and never scoring more than 231 in any single meet.
Then, the postseason hit, and the Condors went on a tear. They scored 264.5 points in men’s events in the semifinals, followed by 240.5 in the final – that means the Condor men had easily their two highest-scoring meets against the league’s toughest competition.
The Condors went from the #6-scoring men’s roster in the regular season to the #1-scoring men’s roster in the postseason.