Ryan Hoffer Gets His First ISL Win as DC and LA Battle in Match 5


Match 5 of the 2021 International Swimming League season is finally bringing some competitive drama into play, with the DC Trident, who don’t have a post-season match in club history, challenging 2020 finalists LA Current for 2nd place.

Team Scoring, Match 5, Day 1

  1. Toronto Titans – 284.5
  2. DC Trident – 234.0
  3. LA Current – 232.5
  4. Iron – 161

We already know that LA will get a big boost from returning swimmers in the post-season including Ryan Murphy, one of the highest-scoring swimmers in the league last season, but from a fan perspective, it almost doesn’t matter – this kind of competitiveness in a meet is what the format has lacked through two-and-a-half seasons.

Individually, the meet is an even more competitive battle. An outsized relay performance by the Titans with 4 wins in 4 events has left them well out in front. Based on seed they would’ve scored 42 relay points, but in actuality, they’ve scored 112.

Scoring, Individual Events Only, Match 5, Day 1

  1. Toronto – 172.5
  2. LA Current – 170.5
  3. DC Trident – 166
  4. Iron – 113

The difference there further highlights how had it is to create parity with Jackpot swims impacting high-value races like relays and skins. The half-second margin between Toronto and LA resulted in massive differential scoring swings that saw, for example, Toronto picking up 38 points in the first relay.

The Trident’s breakthrough here isn’t really a surprise. We actually wrote earlier this week about how they were better than their back-to-back fourth place finishes looked. In part, matchups matter – this is a favorable matchup for the Trident.

Cody Miller was a late arrival to the ISL this season, but after missing the Olympics he’s shown up ready to race for DC. He finished 2nd in the men’s 200 breaststroke in 2:04.54 (behind Iron’s Erik Persson, who has been a pleasant surprise). Miller’s best time in season 1, his last ISL appearance, was a 2:07.06.

On top of that, Ryan Hoffer, the #2 overall draft pick this season, is finally starting to live up to his short course hype. He won the first ISL race of his career, the 50 free, in 21.25. That’s faster than the 21.64 he swam in Match 1 (he was a relay-only swimmer in Match 2), and ranks him 5th in the league this season.

Besides being a best time, this highlights where matchups can matter. None of the three teams in this meet have great male sprinters (no Caeleb Dressels or Ben Prouds or Florent Manaudous), which left the door open for a Hoffer win.

ISL Season 3 Rankings, Men’s 50 Free:

  1. 20.67 – Dressel
  2. 20.86 – Proud
  3. 21.16 – Vladislav Bukhov
  4. 21.19 – Ress
  5. 21.25 – Hoffer
  6. 21.26 – Orsi
  7. 21.32 – de Boer
  8. 21.39 – Miressi
  9. 21.41 – Szabo
  10. 21.44 – Shchegolev

He still needs to do more if DC were to make noise in the playoffs – he was the slowest split on DC’s men’s “A” 400 free relay at 47.11, which is slower than he was last week – but thanks to the win he’s not a total bust, and he’s got some motivation and some confidence.

And he might have a chance at a big boost of confidence thanks to the outcome of the ‘skins’ selections.

Match 5 Skins Decision

Men’s Skins: Freestyle

  • DC eliminated breaststroke
  • Toronto eliminated fly
  • LA chose free

I don’t think we’re going to see the massive skins Jackpot swings that we’ve seen in prior meets here, because it’s a pretty tightly-bunched group. Hoffer, as the winner of the individual race, is obviously the favorite, but without much experience in the format, and much evidence that he can repeat his speed over-and-over again, there’s a few other guys who have a chance (including a sleeper pick in Tom Shields if he can get out of the first round). We also have to remember that Bukhov has been 21.1 this season, so while he was off in the individual 50, he’s still capable of being in the hunt here.

And that’s where the swing will come. If we presume Toronto continues to pick up big relay points, and hold serve individually, they really just need Shane Ryan do advance and not get Jackpotted. But then the battle for 2nd between DC and Toronto becomes really interesting. Zach Apple hasn’t been as good this season as he was last season, but Hoffer will be well-served to go for broke in the first round, try to keep the LA swimmers out of the second round, and hope that’s enough for his team to pick up a victory. At that point, a Shane Ryan or Thom de Boer or Marco Orsi win doesn’t really hurt DC.

Women’s Skins: Butterfly

  • DC eliminated free
  • Iron eliminated back
  • Toronto chose fly

This is going to be Louise Hansson’s race to lose. She was dominant in the 100 fly in 55.26, and while I’d say that Linnea Mack of DC probably can keep things closer in a 50, nobody’s going to touch Hansson. The Jackpot margin of 1 second will almost definitely come into play in the first round, and she’ll have the margin to go for those big points, and probably still win the final round.

So, if Toronto doesn’t have the meet sealed by this point, they will.

The only potential spoiler here is Beryl Gastaldello, who has been very good at skins races in her ISL career. While she didn’t swim the 100 fly, she won the 50 fly at 4 ISL meets last season, and won a freestyle skins race to boot.

The battle for 2nd becomes more interesting here, as Mack, Anna Ntountounaki (LAC), Helena Gasson (LAC), and Klaudia Nazieblo (DCT) grabbed the 2-5 spots in the 100 fly. DC again has to feel good about Mack’s upside in the shorter 50 meter race, but it’s again not a slam dunk.

If the race for 2nd place at this meet comes down to the skins races, right now it looks like a slight lean toward DC, but LA has a chance.

Louise Hansson’s 100 Fly

Toronto Titan Louise Hansson, who was previously the fastest-ever swimmer in the 100 yard fly, moved up the all time rankings in the 100 short course meter fly on Thursday. Her 55.26 ranks her as the 7th-fastest performer in the history of the event:

  1. Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden – 54.61
  2. Kelsi Dahlia, USA – 54.84
  3. Diane Bui Duyet, France – 55.05
  4. Jeanette Ottesen, Denmark – 55.10
  5. Katinka Hosszu, Hungary – 55.12
  6. Lu Ying, China – 55.25
  7. Louise Hansson, Sweden – 55.26
  8. Alicia Coutts, Australia – 55.30
  9. Rikako Ikee, Japan – 55.31
  10. Beryl Gastaldello, France – 55.32

Other Day 2 News of Note

  • Ali DeLoof of the DC Trident has been on 3 teams in 3 seasons, and in each of those stops she’s proven to be a valuable contributor. Her latest conquest was a 55.99 leading off DC’s women’s 400 medley relay. That was the fastest split in the field and the 2nd-fastest 100 back in the ISL this season (behind only Ingrid Wilm’s Canadian Record set last week). It’s DeLoof’s first time under 56 seconds (she was 56.04 last season) and makes her the 5th American woman to do so: Olivia Smoliga (55.04), Kathleen Baker (55.91), Courtney Bartholomew (55.92), and Natalie Coughlin (55.97).
  • Toronto’s 4-for-4 finish in day 1’s relays is the first time we’ve seen that this season. It’s also the first time we’ve seen it in any season since the very first meet of the very first ISL season in 2019. There, Energy Standard did the same at a time when they understood the format and implications of results way more than anybody else did.
  • In the latest saga of ‘trying to follow the ISL event ratings,’ LA Current’s Fernando Scheffer used a 5th place finish in the 400 free to jump one spot to #1 in the ISL’s rating in the event. The man he jumped? 4th place finisher Zane Grothe of DC Trident. Fernando outscored Grothe by 3 points in that race thanks to the checkpoint scoring, but it’s honestly weird to see either of them as the #1 ranked swimmer in this event.

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West Coast Swammer
2 months ago

Not gonna lie. It’s hard to see Hoffer in red.

Marcy Spann
2 months ago

i thought in the men’s relay Toronto won….didn’t they get to choose what stroke for the skins?

Reply to  Marcy Spann
2 months ago

It’s not based on the winner this season. It’s based on who scored the most points in the event. Toronto won, but LA scored more points.

2 months ago

Day 1 team scores in the article are wrong.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. 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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