In this weekly series, we’ll track stars of the week’s ISL meets, both established stars and rising stars.
5 Stars of Week 1
Lilly King, CAC
King was made for this ISL format. She remains unbeaten in all three breaststrokes across five career meets and has been a difference-making piece of a winning medley relay all five times. With her 50 breast skin race win, King actually has four of the seven fastest 50 breast swims in the entire league this year, and by the third round of the skin race, she still had more speed (28.90) than anyone else had in the fully-rested individual 50 breast.
Ryan Murphy, LAC
Another skin race winner, Murphy took full advantage of jackpot rules, scoring a whopping 58 points in that event. Murphy completed full jackpots in rounds 2 and 3, ultimately stealing 26 points from his competitors. Murphy broke 23 twice in match #1, but also dominated the 100 back and powered the winning medley relay, which set up his skin race opportunity.
Olivia Smoliga, CAC
Cali’s women had plenty of standouts, but Smoliga probably didn’t get enough credit for just how dominant her backstroke times were. Her 55.62 in the 100 back is more than half a second faster than anyone else in the league so far this year, and it would have been the #10 swim in the league across all of last year. And Smoliga went 55.6 twice: once winning the individual race (55.66) and once leading off the winning medley relay (55.62).
Ranomi Kromowidjojo, IRO
Kromowidjojo was the best in the league in last year’s freestyle skins. And even though match #2’s skin race went to arguably her third-best stroke (backstroke), she still managed to make the second round and avoid getting jackpotted. In the meantime, she won the 50 free (23.64), 100 free (52.00), and 50 fly (24.74) with the league’s best time in the fly and second-best time in the 50 free.
Tom Shields, LAC
In match #1, Shields managed to beat Caeleb Dressel in the 100 fly (49.58 to 49.62) and Chad le Clos in the 200 fly (1:50.43 to 1:50.48). He holds the league’s best time in both, and came within a hundredth of beating Florent Manaudou in the 50 fly. Shields’ versatility has been so valuable in the ISL, and he held down a solid entry in the 50 back skin race, not moving on to round 2 but avoiding the brutal Murphy jackpot hammer that got the best of so many in that field.
5 Rising Stars of Week 1
Rising stars are lesser-known swimmers who had high-impact performances this week.
Linnea Mack, DCT
Last year, Mack was buried on a deep LA Current roster and was limited to a relay-only role in three of her four meets. This year, the DC Trident free agent acquisition stormed to the top of the scoring lists, winning the 50 back (26.30), taking 3rd in the 50 fly (25.60) and advancing to the final of the 50 back skin race, where she very nearly pulled off the game-changing win.
When we analyzed the skin races before the season, we saw Kira Toussaint, Etiene Medieros, and Caroline Pilhatsch as three of the top four competitors (along with Smoliga). But Mack beat those three head-to-head and looks like a gigantic addition for DC.
Christian Diener, LON
Diener was a solid scorer for London last year. But his 2020 season opener showed a whole new level of speed. His 50 back was half a second better than he was at any point last year, and he even managed to improve by almost a second in the 200 back, which was his real ISL standout event last year. Here’s a look at Diener’s swims across all of last season compared to last weekend:
|Lewisville 2019||Budapest 2019||Euro Derby 2019||Finale 2019||2020 Match #2|
|100 BK Medley Leadoff||54.68||53.44||52.82||50.25||50.38|
Zach Apple, DCT
We’ve written extensively about how good Apple was in the sprints in match #2. But the big takeaway is how highly he ranks across the ISL. Apple has the fastest 100 free time of anyone in the league this year – even faster than world-beater Caeleb Dressel. Apple also hit the #3 time in the league in the 200 free and looks like a major relay weapon for DC.
Abbie Wood, NYB
The New York Breakers almost completely rebuilt their roster in the offseason, but a brutal match #1 grouping placed them against arguably the three best teams in the league and mostly made it hard to see where the Breakers had made progress. Wood’s development is clear, though. She hit lifetime-bests in all three IMs, including a 3.6-second drop in the 400 IM (4:28.19). She’s currently second across the entire league in the 200 IM (2:05.89) and 400 IM (4:28.19) and #4 across the league in the 100 IM (58.49). In fact, she would have swept all three races had the Breakers swum in match #2 instead.
Maxime Rooney, LAC
NCAA graduate Rooney was a force for the Current in fly and free. He sits #3 in the league in the 100 fly (49.84) and had a key 46.3 relay anchor on LA’s winning medley relay, which led to Murphy’s massive 58-point skin win by allowing LA to pick the stroke.