The ISL Descends Upon Indy: Analyzing Each Team’s Possible Outcome

2019 INTERNATIONAL SWIMMING LEAGUE: Group A, Match 1

  • Saturday, October 5th – Sunday, October 6th
  • 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm EST
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Indiana University Natatorium (IUPUI)
  • Short Course Meters (SCM)
  • Group A: Cali Condors, DC Trident, Energy Standard, Aqua Centurions
  • Live Stream, Event Schedule, and Viewer’s Guide

Where to watch by region

  • United States: ESPN3
  • Europe and Asia-Pacific: Eurosport
  • Australia: 7plus
  • New Zealand: Spark
  • Canada: CBC
  • Latin America: Claro Sport
  • Brazil: TV Globo
  • Caribbean: FlowSports
  • Israel: Sports 1
  • Middle East/North Africa: Bein Sport

When to watch by region

  • Local Indianapolis time (Eastern) – 2:00 p.m.
  • Los Angeles, Ca. (Pacific) – 11:00 a.m.
  • London – 7:00 p.m.
  • Tokyo – 3:00 a.m.
  • Sydney – 4:00 a.m.

On Saturday, October 5th, at 2:00 pm Eastern Standard Time, a new chapter will officially begin for professional swimming as the first-ever race of the International Swimming League, or ISL, dives in for the women’s 100 meter butterfly.

Though we won’t know exactly who from the Aqua Centurions will be racing this weekend, the Cali Condors, DC Trident, and Energy Standard have already revealed their rosters for Indy.

According to the ISL Technical Handbook, each team is “suggested” to curtail their rosters to 14 athletes of each gender for each meet, with 12 entered in individual events, and 2 serving a relay-only function. This weekend will feature stars including Katie Ledecky, Natalie Coughlin, Cody Miller, Jérémy Stravius, and Zach Harting, all from DC Trident’s roster. Lilly King, Mallory Comerford, Ariarne Titmus, Kylie Masse, Olivia Smoliga, Mitch Larkin, and Townley Haas, all members of the Cali Condors, are also slated to swim this weekend. Sarah Sjostrom, Chad le Clos, Emily Seebohm, and Kliment Kolesnikov, SwimSwam’s 2018 World Male Swimmer of the Year, highlight Energy Standard’s team for Indy.

Caeleb Dressel, who last month signed with the Cali Condors, helmed by Dressel’s coach Gregg Troy, will not compete in Indianapolis this weekend but is on the roster for the meet in Naples October 12-13. Australian sprinters Jack Cartwright and Shayna Jack, who are also members of the Condors, will attend neither meet in Indianapolis nor Naples; though it is unknown why Cartwright is missing both competitions, Jack is currently suspended from the ISL, pending the results of an anti-doping case. Kevin Cordes, meanwhile, is the only member of the DC Trident not competing in the season opener. Energy Standard omits Japanese World Record holder Daiya Seto for both Indianapolis and Naples competitions.

The Budapest stop of the 2019 FINA World Cup is also taking place this weekend, but based on the current entry list, not a single swimmer on any of the four ISL teams competing this weekend has elected to compete there instead. Other ISL proponents such as Michael Andrew, Cate Campbell, and Katinka Hosszu, do grace the Budapest entry list. Andrew, Cambell, and Hosszu will not swim their first ISL races until October 19th and 20th when the Group B teams convene in Texas for their first competition, the third ISL meet of the inaugural season.

The Races

  • Backstroke: 50m, 100m, 200m
  • Breaststroke: 50m, 100m, 200m
  • Butterfly: 50m, 100m, 200m
  • Freestyle: 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m
  • Individual Medley: 200m, 400m
  • “Skins” 50m Freestyle Knock-out (3 eliminatory heats of 8, then 4, then 2 swimmers)
  • Relays: 4 x 100m Freestyle, 4 x 100m Medley, Mixed 4 x 100 Freestyle, 4 x 50m Medley* (*tie-breaker only)

All events are short course meters, which could give European swimmers and others with multiple years of World Cup experience a slight edge over their younger American counterparts.

Predicted Team Finish Order

Based on the confirmed swimmers for the meet this weekend and the events that will be contested, our predicted team finish order goes:

  1. Energy Standard
  2. Cali Condors
  3. DC Trident
  4. Aqua Centurions

Dressel’s absence in Indy leaves the three relays he would likely be on as well as his signature events, the 50 free, 100 free, 50 fly, and 100 fly, vulnerable to Energy Standard’s Chad le Clos, Ben Proud, and Florent Manaudou. Dressel would also be a no-brainer selection for the 50 freestyle skins race, where the top-2 finishers earn triple the points of a normal individual event. Without Dressel, it’s possible that both of the top-2 finishers in the men’s skins race will be from Energy Standard.

Next weekend’s competition in Naples will include Dressel, and should, therefore, amount to a tighter battle for the team title.

Team points are awarded based on the final standings of meets, with 1st place receiving 4 points, 2nd place 3 points, 3rd place 2 points, and 4th place 1 point. Team points are vital as only the top 2 teams from Europe and the top 2 teams from the U.S. will compete in the final match in Las Vegas in December. Each team will compete in three meets before the top-4 are determined.

Cali Condors

Simply put, the Cali Condors are stacked. The Condors’ roster is a largely sprint-oriented grouping of swimmers, as it needs to be in a league that doesn’t contest events longer than 400 meters. The Condors effectively have the 50, 100, 200, and 400 freestyles covered on both the men’s and women’s sides: sprinters such as Mallory Comerford, Bowen Becker, Kelsi Dahlia, Olivia SmoligaNatalie Hinds, and Justin Ress effectively cover the bases for the 50 and the 100, though Comerford and Ress are also capable 200 freestylers. As the freestyle events lengthen to favor more middle-distance swimmers, Townley Haas, Ariarne Titmus, Anton Ipsen, Hali Flickinger, and Melanie Margalis further prove the depth of this roster.

Dahlia, Flickinger, Comerford, and Jan Świtkowski together form a formidable sprint butterfly squad. Flickinger, Dahlia, and Switkowski are also highly capable 200 flyers, Flickinger especially, though Dahlia’s short course yards times from her NCAA career could land her back in the 2-fly.

Smoliga, Flickinger, Shebat, Ress, Kylie Masse, and Mitch Larkin easily cover the bases in the backstroke, 50, 100, and 200. The men’s backstroke events this weekend could effectively prove to be showdowns between Larkin and Energy Standard’s Russian duo of Kliment Kolesnikov and Evgeny Rylov. The women’s backstroke races, meanwhile, could showcase Smoliga and Masse of the Condors, Lisa Bratton of DC Trident, Georgia Davies from Energy Standard, as well as possibly Kaylee McKeown and Margherita Panziera of the Aqua Centurions, creating an amalgam of backstroke medal winners from the December 2018 (SCM) and July 2019 (LCM) World Championships.

Lilly King, Molly Hannis, and Melanie Margalis comprise probably the strongest group of female breaststroke specialists among the four teams competing this weekend. Andrew Wilson and Nic Fink do not buoy the men’s breaststroke contingent of the Condors quite as much as their female counterparts but, between the two of them, are almost guaranteed top-4 finishes in all three breaststroke races this weekend.

The Condors are also strong in the IM, thanks to Mitch Larkin, Mark Szaranek, Melanie Margalis, and Jan Świtkowski. Hali Flickinger and John Shebat could also step in to swim an IM if needed, further illustrating the Condors’ depth.

Now that we’ve seen the Condors’ roster we can make educated guesses about relay lineups. Smoliga, King, Dahlia, and Comerford would be a very difficult 4 x 100 medley relay to beat; if however, all four women were to focus on individual events only on Sunday, Kylie Masse or Hali Flickinger, Molly Hannis or Melanie Margalis, Flickinger (again), and Natalie Hinds would also prove difficult to beat.

DC Trident

The DC Trident doesn’t show quite the absurd amount of all-around depth as the Cali Condors, though the Trident is especially strong in several specific disciplines such as the IMs and the 200 and 400 freestyles. Jay Litherland, Abrahm DeVine, Ian Finnerty, and Andreas Vazaios make for a strong male IM group, while Katie Ledecky and Emma Barksdale fill out the women’s side, although in a less-robust fashion than their male teammates. Ledecky will also likely race the 200 and 400 freestyle, and possibly also show on the women’s 4 x 100 freestyle relay.

Zane Grothe and Velimir Stjepanovic represent the Trident’s best male distance freestylers, though Litherland could also be called upon for a 200 or 400 if needed. Similarly, sprinter Zach Apple could be called up to the 200 if needed, though he would be better utilized in the 50 and 100 free, as well as the points-heavy “skins” race, where Robert Howard could also play an important role.

The 200s of stroke are another bright spot for the Trident. Brianna Throssell, Zach Harting, and Vazaios are all excellent 200 butterflyers; Bethany GalatCody Miller, and Ian Finnerty combine for a stacked group of 200 breaststrokers; Lisa BrattonSimona Kubova, Natalie Coughlin, and Abrahm Devine round out the team with both top-level talent and depth in the 200 backstroke.

In terms of sprint freestyle, the Trident may not quite stack up to the Condors’ depth, but a potential mixed 4 x 100 freestyle relay of Robert Howard, Zach Apple, Siobhán Haughey, and Madison Kennedy–with the potential to tag in Jérémy Stravius –makes for a strong sprint squad, and potentially a winning relay.

Energy Standard

Energy Standard is in many ways the quintessential ISL swim team, with its origins pre-dating the formation of the league. The Turkey-based is in some ways the first “brainchild” or “guinea pig” professional swim team that was pieced together by Konstantin Grigorishin, the President and primary financial-backer of the ISL. Accordingly, Energy Standard is stacked with international talent and could be the strongest team in the league this season.

It’s worth remembering that ISL competitions are held in short course meters (SCM) venues, like the FINA World Cup. Few others have ever been as dominant in World Cup competition over the years as Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom and South Africa’s Chad le Clos. Both butterfly and sprint freestyle specialists, and both arguably better in the 25-meter pool than the Olympic-sized 50-meter pool, these two icons will lead the charge as Energy Standard begins its campaign to a place in the league final in Las Vegas in December.

If you were to judge the overall fortitude of a roster based on the 4 x 100 medley relay it could field, Energy Standard is so stacked it’s almost “OP.” Consider this lineup for the men’s 4 x 100 medley relay: Evgeny Rylov on backstroke, Anton Chupkov on breaststroke, le Clos on butterfly, and Ivan Girev on freestyle. Or is Ilya Shymanovich a better fit for the breaststroke leg? And perhaps put Kliment Kolesnikov on backstroke for the ‘A’ relay since he has the 2nd-fastest SCM time ever in the 100 back. Decisions, decisions.

As for the women’s 4 x 100 medley, let’s go with Emily Seebohm, Kierra Smith, Sarah Sjostrom, and Penny Oleksiak (in either order)… unless Oleksiak is having an off day, then sub in Femke Heemskerk on the freestyle. Or, let Sjostrom handle the freestyle and leave the fly to 16-year-old Belarusian phenom Anastasiya Shkurdai. Or, replace Seebohm with Georgia Davies. Energy Standard’s potential for the 4 x 100 medley relay–and therefore its strength in the individual 50s and 100s of all four strokes–is pretty sick. As all of these swimmers are confirmed for the meet and keeping in mind that each team is required to field two teams for every relay event, we’re almost guaranteed to get some combination of these stars on a medley relay.

The gang from Gloria Sports Arena also has the 200s covered. Seto and le Clos, the two fastest 200 SCM butterflyers of all time, could very well go 1-2 at the Championships at Mandalay Bay in December if their team qualifies, which would also make for a very unique rematch of the 200 fly final from the 2018 FINA World Championships. Seto, however, is not racing this weekend. Le Clos has always proven to be pretty metal when confronted with high-profile showdowns, which could make him a great contestant for the skins 50 freestyle knock-out races, though Ben Proud and Florent Manaudou, who swim a much narrower spectrum of events than le Clos, might be the better choices there.

Kierra Smith, Emily Seebohm, Evgeny Rylov, Kliment Kolesnikov, and Anton Chupkov effectively cover the 200s of backstroke and breaststroke, while Max Litchfield and Maxim Stupin can tackle the 200 and 400 IMs. Mykhailo Romanchuk, Kregor Zirk, and Charlotte Bonnet round out the middle-distance and distance freestyle contingent of Energy Standard’s roster, though Kolesnikov, Stupin, le Clos, Oleksiak, and Sjostrom are all highly capable 200 freestylers as well.

Aqua Centurions

Rounding out the field this weekend is the Rome-based Aqua Centurions, led by veterans Federica Pellegrini and Laszlo Cseh. The Aqua Centurions are a very sound team all-around, with sprinters and middle-distance and stroke specialists to add depth to an already loaded field in Indy.

Santo Condorelli, Kristian Gkolomeev, and Alessandro Miressi hold down the 50 and 100 freestyles on the men’s side, while Pellegrini, Lidon Munoz, Freya Anderson, and Larissa Oliveira comprise a stout women’s sprint group. Pellegrini is also the best 200 freestyler on the women’s side, though she will probably leave the 400 to the likes of Sarah Koehler and Franziska Hentke. Luca Dotto and Breno Correia, meanwhile, bring the distance freestyler prowess to the men’s side of the team. Together, Dotto and Correia are potentially set up for a great 400 against Energy Standard’s Mykhailo Romanchuk this weekend.

Nicolo Martingenghi and Fabio Scozzoli could tip the scales in the 50 and 100 breaststrokes, and even the playing field against Energy Standard’s Shymanovich and Chupkov. Kaylee McKeown and Margherita Panziera, meanwhile, counteract the Cali Condors superb female backstroke duo of Masse and Smoliga. Franziska Hentke and Alba Vazquez could tip the scales in the IMs, and Hentke should never be ruled out for a place on the podium in the 200 fly. Phillip Heintz and Laszlo Cseh achieve the same effect for the men, with the latter also being a stalwart in the 200 butterfly.

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FlyNDie

It’s like an international Pro Swim Series. Hoping that this meet works because it sets the stage for the rest of the season.

Nswim

I’m very jealous that I didn’t get tickets now, this is loaded!

Miss M

For DC Trident Brianna Throssel is not a 200 backstroker. She swims fly and freestyle.

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 …

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