SwimSwam Pulse: 70% of Voters Say the 3rd Round Winner Wins The ISL Skins

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers to weigh in on who should be considered the skins winner:


Question: Who wins the skins?

  • The swimmer who wins the final round – 70.7%
  • The swimmer who scores the most points across all three rounds – 29.3%

An overwhelming majority of voters said that the swimmer who wins the third round of an ISL skin race is the skins winner – not necessarily the swimmer who scored the most points.

That’s a bit of a tricky distinction. If you’re confused, here’s a real-life scenario that brought this question to the forefront:

In the ISL, the skin races are the biggest point swings of the meet. The skin race is a three-round showdown – eight swimmers compete in the first round, the top four move on to the second round, and the top two from there move on to the final round. Swimmers score points for their finishing position in each round.

If the same swimmer wins all three rounds, there’s no controversy. But here’s what happened in the ISL’s match #7:

Energy Standard’s Ilya Shymanovich won the first round, which is worth 9 points. But he also beat the bottom four swimmers by the league’s jackpot margin, so he stole their combined 10 points to score 19 overall. Iron’s Emre Sakci was second for 7 points.

Sakci beat Shymanovich handily in the next two rounds, earning 9 and then 14 points for a total of 30. But Shymanovich won 7 in each round for taking second, so he ended up scoring 33 points, even though Sakci was the one who “won” the event based on the traditional definition.

That brought up questions among fans: who should be considered the skins winner in this case?

Nearly three-quarters of voters said that the swimmer who won the final round should be the winner. That certainly conforms more to what the skins were introduce as last season, when the first two rounds weren’t even scored and were only for elimination purposes.

That also conforms to swimming tradition, in which preliminaries are unscored and merely for qualifying purposes – the swimmer who takes first in prelims but fades to second in the final is not considered the winner or given a medal, even if their prelims time was better than anyone’s finals time.

On the other hand, some have argued that the end goal in the ISL is to score points – that determines both team victories and individual MVP standing. So Shymanovich ultimately did more to accomplish those goals that Sakci did.

At the end of the day, the two arguments aren’t mutually exclusive. Sakci can still be the skins “winner,” even as Shymanovich ultimately did more to help his team and his individual standing.


Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks voters to weigh in on the ISL’s new idea for an 800 free where swimmers earn points for their position at the 100-meter, 200-meter, and 800-meter marks.

Should the ISL add an 800 free with points given at the 100, 200, and 800 marks?

View Results

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner

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10 months ago

The ISL is an organization that had great potential, but it increasingly seems like it’s going to be a joke in a few years time. I appreciate that it is hard to launch this sort of endeavor, but they’re not helping their cause by continuing to add convoluted events and scoring mechanisms. It’s simply the wrong direction.

This league was founded on the idea that there is enough money to go around for the swimmers to make a substantial living. FINA had supposedly created a system where only the top athletes can thrive, and the ISL was supposed to counter that. The thought was exciting.

But instead the ISL is creating another system where only the top athletes can cash… Read more »

Monday Morning Grind
10 months ago

The 800 free idea sounds great to me and like an awesome way to up the value of distance swimmers in the league. Imagine Someone like Blake Pieroni going for the 100 and 200 win then trying to hold on and place top 4 while someone like Grothe let’s everyone go nuts the first 200 and then tries to close in time to get the 400 and 800 points. Could also bring in cool team dynamics. Front half swimmer goes for a 100/200 win and the back half swimmer drafts off him while worrying about winning at the end.

Kieron Smoth
Reply to  Monday Morning Grind
10 months ago

It’s definitely a new way to make it interesting. But I’m not sure someone like pieroni would swim an 800 and go out and die. It might hinder his later events. It’s not like Zane would take it out slow, I could see him or Ledecky just leading the whole way anyways.

IU Swammer
Reply to  Kieron Smoth
10 months ago

Pieroni swam the 50-500 in college, so I could see this being his strategy. And you’re right that Ledecky would lead wire to wire, but I’m not sure who else would when up against someone specifically trying to win the front half.

IU Swammer
10 months ago

I still want to see the trial run before committing. I think it’s a really cool idea for a race, but it could easily turn into an 8+ minute oddity of 4 swimmers trying to win to the 200 and then cruising a 600, and 4 swimmers swimming a normal 800 with a burst at the 350. That may be fun, it may be boring.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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