The Cali Condors got off to a dream start on Day 1 of Match 8 in the International Swimming League (ISL), but the London Roar finished strongly to leave the contest finely balanced.
The Condors underlined why they are team to beat at the biggest sports event of the year by winning the first five races at the Duna Arena in Budapest. Kelsi Dahlia, Caeleb Dressel, Beata Nelson, Radoslav Kawecki and Lilly King delivered the wins.
After 11 race victories, the Condors (255) lead the overnight standings by a slender 9.5 points over London (246.5). The Tokyo Frog Kings (210) and NY Breakers (167.5) are third and fourth.
Cali’s rocket-fueled start was matched by an impressive fightback from London. With little separating the two, the contest boiled down to a few tight races making the difference. Olympic gold medalist Adam Peaty put on a burst of acceleration in the last 10 meters to pip Condors’ juggernaut Dressel in the 50m breaststroke.
But the most anticipated match-up was King versus Alia Atkinson in the women’s 50m breaststroke, their first meeting in the ISL.
King came in boasting six race wins over seasons one and two to her Roar rival’s five. King nicked it to remain unbeaten, her teammate Molly Hannis edging out Atkinson for second.
Two drama-filled 4x100m medley relays concluded Day 1. They determined which strokes will be used in tomorrow’s mega-points skins races. Season 2020’s unbeaten teams shared the spoils.
The women’s race was billed as a tight contest between the Condors and Roar, and they didn’t disappoint.
London’s Kira Toussaint battled with Olivia Smoliga in the backstroke before King, in her third swim of the day, scrapped hard with Atkinson in the breaststroke. The final leg went right to the wall, with the Condors touching just ahead of the Roar to their great delight.
Condors head coach Jonty Skinner acknowledged the scale of the achievement: “They had to fight for that … that was a great battle.”
The Roar went 1 and 3 in the men’s version, with Duncan Scott finishing fast after Peaty had established a lead over Tokyo, who were second.
Condors take early control
Dahlia’s narrow win in the 100m butterfly that opened the meet set the tone for their Day 1 displays, showing the team’s grit and determination. Dahlia edged out Marie Wattel by 0.01 seconds.
“I’m in shock. It’s been a hard week. I’m really, really pleased with that,” she said poolside after the win.
Dressel and Marcin Cieslak’s 1-2 for the Condors in the men’s 100m butterfly was followed by Nelson’s stunning effort to hold off Tokyo’s Natsumi Sakai in the women’s 200m backstroke.
“We have our sights set on the semifinals, so we are just grinding our way through our next two matches. We have great team chemistry. I did it for my teammates,” Nelson said.
King put in another terrific shift to end up second in the MVP standings. She saw off a strong challenge from the Breakers’ Emily Escobedo to notch an ISL record in the 200m breaststroke.
Dressel was in and out of the water, too. He was at the peak of his powers in comfortably winning the 50m freestyle in a season’s best time.
In one of the strongest fields of the day, Melanie Margalis put in a devastating last 50 meters to outpace the Breakers’ Abbie Wood to claim the 200m individual medley.
Coleman Stewart sprung the biggest shock in beating favorite Guilherme Guido of the Roar to win the 50m backstroke.
Roar claw back to put pressure on
After a slow start, in which the Roar swapped places a few times with Tokyo for second spot, the team picked up a win in race seven of the 20. But only just.
In the women’s 4x100m freestyle, Anna Hopkin touched home first following a neck-and-neck race with the Condors right until the last 25 meters.
That was something of a turning point. London bagged some big points in the women’s 50m freestyle and then secured 1 and 3 in the men’s 200m individual medley to close the gap on the Condors to just four points at the halfway point.
The final flurry of races, including Toussaint’s superb first in the women’s 50m backstroke, a much-anticipated duel with the Condors’ Smoliga, ensured that London enter Day 2 with everything to play for.
Tokyo leave it late
The Frog Kings had to wait until race 17 to post their only win, but by that time they had amassed some good point-scoring top-five places to keep the scoreboard moving and, crucially, to stay with London.
Leah Smith controlled the women’s 400m freestyle from the off to seal victory ahead of the Condors’ Hali Flickinger.
Elsewhere, Sakai showed her credentials with second in a tightly contested women’s 200m backstroke. And the Frog Kings performed well in the men’s 50m freestyle, finishing third and fourth. Kosuke Hagino secured second in the men’s 200m individual medley.
Breakers scrap for points
With the Condors and Roar snatching the lion’s share of top-three placings, the Breakers struggled to knock them off their perch. But they bagged two superb victories.
Breaststroke supremo Marco Koch got the team rolling in the 200m race with a comfortable win to halt the Condors’ sequence of five successive wins. Escobedo fought hard for her second in the 200m breaststroke.
Kasia Wasick, one of the team’s big stars this season, crushed the opposition in the women’s 50m freestyle, winning by almost a full body length. Arina Surkova, meanwhile, picked up a good second for her team.
And in the men’s 400m freestyle, Felix Aubock put in a strong last 50 meters to record his second win in the event in Season 2020. Michael Andrew was also strong, finishing with two second places.
Day One, Match 8
1.Women’s 100m Butterfly – Kelsi Dahlia, Cali Condors – 56.15
2. Men’s 100m Butterfly – Caeleb Dressel, Cali Condors – 49.33
3. Women’s 200m Backstroke – Beata Nelson, Cali Condors – 2:02.31
4. Men’s 200m Backstroke – Radoslaw Kawecki, Cali Condors – 1:48.12
5. Women’s 200m Breaststroke – Lilly King, Cali Condors – 2:15.80
6. Men’s 200m Breaststroke – Marco Koch, NY Breakers – 2:01.40
7. Women’s 4x100m Freestyle – London Roar (Anderson, Kameneva, Wattel, Hopkin) – 3:28.73
8. Men’s 50m Freestyle – Caeleb Dressel, Cali Condors – 20.65
9. Women’s 50m Freestyle – Kasia Wasick, NY Breakers – 23.47
10. Men’s 200m Individual Medley – Andreas Vazaios, London Roar – 1:52.41
11. Women’s 200m Individual Medley – Melanie Margalis, Cali Condors – 2:04.18
12. Men’s 50m Breaststroke – Adam Peaty, London Roar – 25.98
13. Women’s 50m Breaststroke – Lilly King, Cali Condors – 29.20
14. Men’s 4x100m Freestyle – Cali Condors (Majchrzak, Ress, Cieslak, Dressel) – 3:06.07
15. Women’s 50m Backstroke – Kira Toussaint, London Roar – 25.79
16. Men’s 50m Backstroke – Coleman Stewart, Cali Condors –23.21
17. Women’s 400m Freestyle – Leah Smith, Tokyo Frog Kings – 3:59.70
18. Men’s 400m Freestyle – Felix Aubock, NY Breakers – 3:39.05
19. Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay – Cali Condors (Smoliga, King, Dahlia, Hinds) – 3:47.79
20. Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay – London Roar (Guido, Peaty, Lanza, Scott) –3:22.97
Team Standings after Day 1
1. Cali Condors – 255
2. London Roar – 246.5
3. Tokyo Frog Kings – 210
4. NY Breakers – 167.5
Match 8 MVP Standings after Day 1
1. Caeleb Dressel – 34pts
2. Lilly King – 25.5pts
3. Adam Peaty – 21pts
ABOUT THE ISL: The International Swimming League is a global professional swimming competition now in season 2 with teams in Europe (Italy-based Aqua Centurions, France-based Energy Standard, Hungary-based Iron, and London Roar), North America (Cali Condors, DC Trident, LA Current, NY Breakers and Toronto Titans), and Asia (Tokyo Frog Kings).
Season 2020 is taking place at the Duna Arena in Budapest, Hungary. Over 300 of the world’s best swimmers from over 50 countries are competing for over USD 6 million in prize money during the condensed, five-week event.
MATCH SCHEDULE: There will be 10 preliminary matches in total, with the top eight teams progressing to the semifinals. The top two teams from each semifinal will battle it out in the Grand Final on November 21 and 22.
The full match schedule can be found here.
ISL SOCIAL: Keep up with all the latest ISL news by following @iswimleague on Instagram and Twitter and @internationalswimmingleague on Facebook and YouTube. Visit https://isl.global
WHERE TO WATCH: Links to the broadcasters showing the matches live can be found here.
DIGITAL PLATFORM: In countries that do not have a rights holder, the matches are being live streamed on the ISL digital platform ISLand, which can be accessed here.
RESULTS: The results, updated start lists and match standings can be accessed here.
VIRTUAL MIXED ZONE: Finally, 20 minutes after the end of each match, a virtual mixed zone will be held that can be accessed via this zoom link.