Tom Shields, Mikaela Dahlke Leave Empty Lanes for LA Current in 200 Fly


Update: Shields’ camp has confirmed that he will still swim the 50 fly and the skins race. Shields said after the meet that he felt like he had a fever but never actually had one, but was dealing with shivers, dehydration, and gastrointestinal issues. He says that he tested negative for COVID-19, and the leading theory is that he ate bad food.

The LA Current left an empty lane in back-to-back races in the women’s 200 fly and men’s 200 fly in Saturday’s final day of the 2021 International Swimming League season.

Mikaela Dahlke was scheduled to swim the women’s race race, but didn’t, meaning both a 4 point penalty for the Current and an automatic Jackpot for winner Hali Flickinger of the Cali Condors.

In the men’s race, it was Tom Shields, one of the league’s star swimmers, who left an empty lane. That meant another 4 point penalty and an automatic Jackpot for Teppei Morimoto of London Roar.

Shields was the #1 rated swimmer by the ISL’s rating system in that event coming into the race.

For all intents and purposes, the Current were out of contention for the title on Saturday, sitting 70 points behind 3rd-place London Roar after the men’s 200 fly. Those no-shows, especially for Shields, who is fighting for a top 10 spot in the season MVP standings and the $10,000+ bonuses that go with them, will still hurt those athletes’ rankings individually.

No explanation was given for either absence, though on the ISL broadcast, some vague reference was given to Shields being sick. He did swim on Friday, though, including a win in the 100 fly. SwimSwam has been unable to confirm any further details about the absences.

We’ve seen a few empty lanes left this season. Some have been explained by unexpected illness, while others have not been explained. Teams are able to change their rosters between each session of the meet, and some teams, like infamously, Toronto, have had swimmers just go ‘really slow,’ because that’s still a better outcome points-wise than an empty lane.

Teams’ rosters have been stretched by both COVID-19 and other illnesses this season, often leaving teams with short benches that have forced them to put swimmers in unusual races. In this case, Dahlke was likely to miss the minimum time standard, though that would only be a 1 point penalty, while Shields might have won his race.

Shields, for now, is still entered in the ‘skins’ event late in the session.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

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