French sprinter Florent Manaudou has arrived in Naples, Italy ahead of Energy Standard’s third match of the 2021 International Swimming League season. Dutchwoman Femke Heemskerk will arrive on Wednesday.
Manaudou first cropped up in the Instagram story of his teammate Chad Le Clos, and later confirmed that he had rejoined the team in Naples after missing the team’s two opening matches.
Energy Standard head coach Tom Rushton says that Manaudou and Heemskerk will both likely begin their seasons as a relay-only contributor.
“It’s hard to have Flo (Manaudou) arrive and not slot him in, but most likely he’ll join as relay-only this match. For all the guys that have been here now for three-and-a-half weeks, we’ve been living and moving as a team. Even though Flo has been part of our team for 2 years now, he’ll still need a period of low expectations.
“The same is true of Femke Heemskerk, who arrives tomorrow.
“It’s pretty rare that we’d have an athlete fly in and put them into the main lineup immediately, similarly if they’re returning from injury or illness. Giving them a relay only slot allows them to get into the competition without too much psychological pressure.
Energy Standard is coming off a Week 3 bye and will enter their matchup on Saturday and Sunday with an undefeated streak on the line. After edging-out Toronto by 15 points in Match 1, they dominated London Roar in Match 3.
This week, they’ll face the LA Current, Tokyo Frog Kings, and the same London Roar team that they dominated last time out, but that doesn’t mean they’ll expect domination again: the Roar have welcomed back two of their biggest names, Australians Emma McKeon and Kyle Chalmers, to the lineup. That propelled them to a Match 6 win on Sunday over, among others, the defending league champion Cali Condors. While Cali was without their superstar Caeleb Dressel for one of those two days, the victory will still give the London team confidence heading into their rematch with Energy Standard.
While Chalmers was relegated to relay-only duties last week, his coach Ben Higson said post match that he hopes to “build the season” for Chalmers and add him in to individual events in future matches. McKeon scored 45 points in the MVP race to sit as the team’s 3rd-best scorer at their last meet.
For Energy Standard, the return of Manaudou and Heemskerk will help cushion the loss of points from Sarah Sjostrom, who has been their leading scorer so far this season. Sjostrom left after week 2 of the season to return home to Sweden and continue rehab on a broken elbow she suffered earlier this year.
Even as relay-only contributors, they should make a quick impact. Heemskerk will fill in for Sjostrom’s vacated relay spot in the Energy Standard women’s top-in-class relays.
Manaudou, meanwhile, will provide reinforcements for the Energy Standard relays that have been good, but not dominant, this season. In Match 3, they finished 3-4 in the relays, which scored them 22 points (6 fewer than the New York Breakers did).
Manaudou’s presence would have almost-surely given then a 2-4 finish, and possibly 1-4 in that race.
Last season, Manadou finished 18th in the league in MVP scoring, while Heemskerk was 30th.
Energy Standard still has 5 other Olympic medalists who haven’t yet joined the team: James Guy, Femke Heemskerk, Boglarka Kapas, Evgenii Rylov, and Emily Seebohm.