With the International Swimming League’s European derby match on the horizon, one of the major storylines coming in is the imminent showdown between the league’s two most dominant teams so far.
Both the London Roar and Energy Standard went undefeated through the group stage, and will now face off to see which team can keep their unblemished record heading into the Las Vegas final.
This brewing battle is something that’s not lost on the club’s general managers, who are as excited as anyone to see how things unfold.
“An Energy Standard – London match with our English coach…even rugby is not better,” joked Energy Standard GM Jean-Francois-Salessy, referring to his head coach James Gibson.
With the Roar competing at home, Salessy knows they’ll have a bit of extra incentive to try and win, and his club would take great pleasure in spoiling the party.
“The pressure is on the shoulders of the receiver,” said Salessy. “Our position as a hunter is rather pleasant and motivating. The London Roar group are exceptional and they will be keen to win at home. This accentuates our motivation.”
In a more direct manner, Roar GM Rob Woodhouse acknowledges that his club is looking to win at home, but doesn’t deviate from their ultimate goal to perform their best in Vegas.
“Our first priority is securing a place in the final and we won’t underestimate the task,” said Woodhouse. “Being the number one European team is also important and something we’re aiming to achieve.”
The match will take place at the London Aquatics Centre, the site of the 2012 Olympic Games.
“A sell out home crowd in such an iconic venue is going to be fantastic,” added Woodhouse.
Looking back on how their clubs performed in their early-season matches, both GMs were very pleased with what they saw.
“I think that Energy Standard was almost perfect during the first two matches in Indianapolis and Naples,” said Salessy. “James Gibson and his team were able to show that they mastered the thing perfectly.”
“Exceptionally well,” added Woodhouse. “The team bonded well and fought for every point available.”
However, there’s always something to learn.
“The importance of the relays and skins was probably the main lesson for us,” said Woodhouse. “Keeping the multi-event swimmers as fresh as possible was another important lesson.”
For Iron, who saw a massive improvement moving from their first match in Dallas to their second in Budapest, the goal will be to simply keep their momentum rolling.
“I think we had a good performance in Dallas, but really turned it up for Budapest in front of the home crowd,” said Iron GM Dorina Szekeres. “That was an amazing experience for the whole team.”
“I definitely would like to see the best performance so far from the team in London.”
Szekeres believes making some slight alterations to their relays will help give them a chance to compete with both the London Roar and Energy Standard in the derby.
“I think we did a better job in Budapest of putting the relays in better positions, and we are looking to put even more focus on it but without jeopardizing our amazing individual performances,” said Szekeres.
“Keep doing what we have been doing in the individual events and the skins, and maximize our relay performances. We need our relay-only and 1-2 event swimmers to make a difference and put up some great swims for the relays.”