ISL Play-In Match (#11) Day 1 Wrapup: DC Opens Big Lead, Ranomi Is on Fire


  • Wednesday, September 29 – Thursday, September 30
  • 7:00 am – 9:00 Am EST (1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Local Time)
  • Piscina Felice Scandone, Naples, Italy
  • Short Course Meters (25m – SCM) Format
  • ISL Season 3 Schedules, Start Times, & More
  • Teams Competing: DC Trident, Team Iron, Tokyo Frog Kings, New York Breakers
  • Omega Live Results

The DC Trident jumped out to a commanding day 1 lead in Match #11 of the 2021 ISL season: the Play-In Match.

The top 2 of the 4 teams competing this week will advance to participate in the Playoff round in Eindhoven in November, and after day 1, the Trident look comfortably in control of that standing, with Iron 2nd.

Team Scoring After Day 1, Match #11 (Play-In Match)

  1. DC Trident – 277
  2. Iron – 226.5
  3. Tokyo Frog Kings – 214.5
  4. New York Breakers – 193

While it appears, on paper, as though there’s still a tight battle between Iron and Tokyo, we know that Iron is very strong in day 2 of this season, especially in Skins races. Iron, in fact, has scored the second-most points of any team in the ISL this season in Skins racing, while the other three teams in this match are the three worst teams in that category.

The difference in prize money between a team finishing 1st and a team finishing 2nd in an ISL “regular season match,” which they’re defining the Play-In match as, is $123,200. Each athlete on the team that wins the meet receives $800, and each athlete on the team that finishes 2nd receives $400.

Skins Scoring, 2021 ISL Regular Season

  1. Cali Condors – 388.5
  2. Iron – 257
  3. Energy Standard – 242
  4. London Roar – 193.5
  5. Toronto Titans – 173
  6. Aqua Centurions – 154
  7. LA Current – 126
  8. Tokyo Frog Kings – 79
  9. New York Breakers – 53
  10. DC Trident – 34

Skins Selections:


  • Iron removes breaststroke
  • Tokyo removes backstroke
  • DC chooses free

As SwimSwam’s Barry Revzin put it, DC was left with a fairly easy choice here. When left with freestyle and butterfly as their choices, there was only one choice. Ryan Hoffer of DC won the 50 free, albeit by a narrow .06 second margin ahead of Iron’s Thom de Boer, but Iron’s Nicholas Santos is one of the biggest skins weapons in the whole league. In a 50 fly skins race, DC would be lucky to score at all, so any points they can get from Hoffer is a relative bonus.


  • New York removes free
  • DC removes fly
  • Iron chooses breaststroke

While New York and DC managed to successfully block Ranomi Kromowidjojo, one of the best skins swimmers in the league, from participating (breaststroke is the one event where Iron definitely won’t use her), they couldn’t stop Iron from still having a big advantage here.

Ida Hulkko dominated the individual women’s 50 breaststroke on Wednesday, swimming 29.68 and collecting 6 Jackpot points on top of her 9 for a win.

While Tokyo’s Miranda Tucker is the 2nd-best swimmer in the field, that is not a strong event for DC. So, maybe this gives Tokyo a puncher’s chance of an upset and taking 2nd place from Iron – but it’s not likely. The more likely outcome is that this is enough for Iron to jump DC for the meet win, with those two teams advancing to the Playoff.

Day 1 Highlights

  • DC Trident’s Jacob Pebley swam 1:48.59 in the 200 backstroke, which is the fastest time in the league this season – clearing the 1:49.61 done by Evgeny Rylov of Energy Standard in Match 1. Pebley’s previous lifetime best from 2016 Short Course Worlds was 1:48.98. Pebley, a 2016 Olympian, chose to skip the Tokyo 2020 US Olympic Trials, citing his mental health, but this swim makes it clear that skipping Trials is not the same as his career being over.
  • Iron’s Ranomi Kromowidjojo split 50.86 to anchor Iron’s 400 medley relay, which is the fastest split of the ISL season, and just short of her personal best-ever relay split of 50.77. Kromowidjojo, even at 31 years old, continues to show new gears in this ISL format.
  • The skins and penalty points have begun to backfire a bit in relays. Iron’s men’s “B” relay swam 3:29.22 in the 400 free relay – more than 18 seconds slower than the next-slowest relay. Without the pieces on their roster to really challenge for any positive points, Iron just completely mailed that one in, with Kirill Strelnikov actually splitting 55.48. On a freestyle leg. Of a men’s 400 free relay. Here’s the best way to contextualize just how slow that relay was: the DC women’s “A” relay was 3:28.79, which is faster than the Iron men’s “B” relay. All but two women’s swimmers in that field (which happened to be Iron swimmers, as they went for a similar strategy in the women’s relay) were faster than Strelnikov. I’d expect to see a new rule in place to control this next season.
  • The New York Breakers don’t have the roster to be anywhere but the worst team in the ISL this season, but they do have a couple of swimmers who are performing exceedingly well. Among them is Brendon Smith, who won the 400 free, scored 14 total points, and swam 3:37.11. Only one other swimmer in the whole league this season, Duncan Scott, has been under 3:40 – and even at that, he’s only been 3:39.5. Smith has nothing to save up for at this point, as it appears that Breakers’ season will end on Thursday, but he’s moving into territory where there will be international implications.
  • If Tokyo was going to finish in the top 2, they needed all of their swimmers to be on fire. They’ve been good, but not on fire. Daiya Seto, for example, didn’t pick up a win on the day. Takeshia Kawamoto was only 50.22 in the 100 fly (where a 49.9 won), even though he later split 48.74 on Tokyo’s winning 400 medley relay. They’ve missed their opportunities to pick up 4 or 5 points in several places, and that could be what does them in.
  • Iron’s Erik Persson won the 200 breaststroke in 2:02.88, which makes him a perfect 5-for-5 in that event this season. He was Iron’s last pick in the 2021 ISL draft – and has proven a big return value as he’s gotten faster as the season has gone on.
  • Iron’s Ingeborg Loyning was flat on Wednesday. She split 58.04 on a backstroke leadoff leg on Iron’s 400 medley relay (though they still were good enough to win), was 8th in the 200 back in 2:07.15, and was 5th in the 50 back in 26.78. Just a few days ago, in Match #10, she swam 2:03.7 in the 200 back, 26.4 in the 50 back, and 57.1 leading off the 400 medley relay.
  • The ISL has restored their Instagram account.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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