Kregor Zirk Hand-Touches at 100-Meter Checkpoint in 400 Freestyle in Match 9

The introduction of checkpoints in the 400 freestyle and 400 IM has had an undeniable impact on both point distribution and race strategy for swimmers in ISL season 3. Essentially, the checkpoints serve as an incentive for swimmers to be more aggressive early on in a race, though if they fall off the pace and get jackpotted all their points are stolen, including those temporarily picked up at the checkpoint.

On day 1 of Match 9, Energy Standard’s Kregor Zirk decided to chase the 6 points offered to the first swimmer to reach the 100-meter checkpoint. Zirk’s strategy didn’t just involve a quick opening 100 but also a hand-touch in order to grab the 6 points for the 100-meter leader. Once this was accomplished all Zirk had to do was not get beaten by more than 8.5 seconds–the jackpot margin in the men’s 400 free.

Zirk touched the wall at 52.18 just ahead of DC’s Velimir Stjepanovic who clocked in at 52.59 to the feet. Toronto’s Luc Kroon would win the race in a time of 3:40.74, nearly two seconds ahead of runner-up Duncan Scott from the London Roar, leaving 3rd place to London’s Zac Incerti. Zirk would ultimately tie with Toronto’s Max Litchfield for 4th in 3:43.13, at least, as the final times are ranked. In terms of points scored Zirk came in second with 10.5 points, just 0.5 less than Kroon who earned only 1 checkpoint bonus (turning 5th), but also stole a point from Energy Standard’s Charlie Swanson who Kroon jackpotted.

Zirk’s strategy might have been influenced by Scott who, in Match 8, won the 400 freestyle and picked up 13 points overall for turning 2nd at the 100-meter checkpoint. It’s worth noting that Zirk was the one swimmer in Match 8 to beat Scott at the 100-meter turn, rounding in 52.01 to Scott’s 52.08. Nonetheless, Scott beat Zirk by nearly 5 seconds in Match 8, though Zirk still came away with 11 points.

Zirk has swam the 400 freestyle four times this season and has won a total of 43.5 points in the event. In every outing Zirk has turned either 1st or 2nd at the 100-meter checkpoint, meaning that of the 43.5 points he has earned in the 400 freestyle, 22 of those points have come from the checkpoint.

Aggressive opening 100s don’t always pay off though. In season 3, both Khader Baqlah of the Cali Condors and Matt Richards of Team Iron have temporarily earned 6 points for turning 1st at the 100-meter mark, only to have those points stolen by the winner of the race after getting beaten by more than the jackpot margin.

Though Zirk’s strategy was intentional and calculated it’s still reminiscent of the time Danas Rapsys miscounted the 400 freestyle, stopping at the wall for around 5 seconds before finishing the final 50 meters of the race. Zirk, however, did not stop during his race and simply opted for an open turn.

A full video of the race has not been posted yet, but Zirk did post a snippet of the race to Instagram showing his 6-point hand-touch.


Men’s 400m Freestyle – Ranked by Time

  1. KROON Luc TOR 3:40.74 (11.0 points)
  2. SCOTT Duncan Lon 3:42.72 (9.0 points)
  3. INCERTI Zac LON 3:42.99 (6.0 points)
  4. LITCHFIELD Max TOR 3:43.13  (7.5 points) / ZIRK Kregor ENS 3:43.13 (10.5 points)
  5. STJEPANOVIC Velimir DCT 3:46.07 (7.0 points)
  6. LITHERLAND Jay DCT 3:47.84 (2.0 points)
  7. SWANSON Charlie ENS 3:51.97 (-1 point)

Men’s 400m Freestyle – Ranked by Points Scored

  1. KROON Luc TOR 3:40.74 (11.0 points)
  2. ZIRK Kregor ENS 3:43.13 (10.5 points)
  3. SCOTT Duncan Lon 3:42.72 (9.0 points)
  4. LITCHFIELD Max TOR 3:43.13 (7.5 points)
  5. STJEPANOVIC Velimir DCT 3:46.07 (7.0 points)
  6. INCERTI Zac LON 3:42.99 (6.0 points)
  7. LITHERLAND Jay DCT 3:47.84 (2.0 points)
  8. SWANSON Charlie ENS 3:51.97 (-1 point)

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

#1 spot in the top ten for sure!

Everyone’s gangsta until Dressel comes
1 year ago

All this to go 3:43 at the end. Calm down Boy, you’re not Yannick Agnel to swim 3:32

Tommy Schmitt
1 year ago

That video edit is something else, absolute thug.

Clownley Honks
1 year ago

Why should they reward strategies that don’t win?

Just give the trophy to the condors already
1 year ago

Sneaky boi

Daeleb Creseel
1 year ago

This is fun

1 year ago

I’m not sure if he’s a secret genius who devised a masterplan with James or a happy fool who decided he’d earned a little breather after that first 100m lol

Reply to  CasualSwimmer
1 year ago

He trains under Tom actually, so Tom is the mastermind behind this. You do what you gotta do.

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

Read More »