The Cali Condors fought neck and neck with the LA Current to snatch a narrow overnight lead on Day 1 of the International Swimming League (ISL)’s second semifinal.

Caeleb Dressel again showed his world-class qualities, scoring two victories and a second place to earn top spot in the MVP standings. His thrilling 20.28 in the 50m freestyle was just 0.04 seconds shy of the world record.

The San Francisco-based team chalked up 10 race wins in total at the Duna Arena in Budapest.

But the Current were more than a match for them, challenging their US rivals strongly in most races and notching seven wins of their own. Backstroke supremo Ryan Murphy was in dazzling form, posting a new ISL record in the 200m race with 1:47.48.

The Condors finished with 282 points, with LA 27 points behind (255). Team Iron (173) and the Toronto Titans (171) were well off the pace in third and fourth.

With the American teams sharing the spoils in the medley relays that determine which team chooses the strokes for tomorrow’s elimination skins races, the match is finely poised for Day 2.

Condors’ powerhouses Lilly King and Olivia Smoliga inspired their team to an easy victory to give the team an advantage in the closing women’s race tomorrow. Tom Shields was on fire for the Current in the men’s relay, going 48.1 in his leg as LA nicked it.

Team Iron showed up strongly in the middle of the meet, picking up three wins to rocket them past the Titans after a slow start.

The Canadian team missed out on victories in some fiercely contested races and ended without a win. But a measure of their strength in depth was the team’s series of top-three placings that kept the score ticking over.

Condors race hard, eye world records

The 24-year-old Dressel launched the Condors’ semifinal campaign in fine fashion. In the 100m butterfly, he put his foot on the gas in the last 25m to beat the Current’s Tom Shields by 0.09 seconds to get a jackpot win, with teammate Marcin Cieslak coming third.

He also jackpotted in storming to a win in the 50m freestyle, his seventh ISL win at the distance.

Beata Nelson upset Kylie Masse of the Titans in the women’s 200m backstroke, going 1-3 with Flickinger. “I knew it was going to be tough. I swam my own race,” she said.

Breaststroke queen King’s first outing of the day was a reminder of her determination to win. The Titans’ Kelsey Wog came back at her in the third 50m, but King edged it by 0.03 in a fantastic duel.

Asked if she could beat the world record in the final next week, King said: “That’s the plan.”

As she did last week, Molly Hannis got the better of King in the 50m breaststroke, albeit by 0.01 seconds.

Smoliga had another good day in the pool, claiming the 50m backstroke in 25.75. In her third swim in 90 minutes, she pushed LA’s Beryl Gastaldello into second.

After London Roar’s Kira Toussaint bagged a world record with a time of 25.60 at the distance yesterday, the American is setting her sights on lowering it in the final: “Congrats to Kira. I have one more shot at it.”

Townley Haas was in good form to pinch a win in the 400m freestyle, holding off Fernando Scheffer of the Current to touch the wall first. In the closest 400m of the season, the top four were separated by only 0.7 seconds.

Evaluating the team’s performance on Day 1, 2012 Olympic silver medalist Haley Anderson said the team had been fine-tuned in recent days. “Everyone stepped up today and there were some really good, exciting races.”

Condors head coach Jonty Skinner was delighted with the team’s display. “Some of these kids were racing fast and looking great, better than I expected them to. We now have to look at how we best prepare for next weekend.”

LA buzzing after strong display

Gastaldello got LA off on the right foot to defeat her archrival Kelsi Dahlia of the Condors. Her time of 55.32 was the fastest in the ISL this year.

“I am super happy,” the fired-up French swimmer said poolside. I am excited to do the job. Let’s go.”

Ryan Murphy, dubbed the ‘jackpot master’ by ISL commentators, served up another jackpot win to bag 19 points in the men’s 200m backstroke in an ISL record time of 1:47.48.

The men’s 50m backstroke was billed as a ‘battle of the Ryans’ – Murphy of the Current and Shane Ryan of the Titans. But it was the Current’s in-form Murphy who won his second race.

Will Licon dived for the wall to spring something of a shock in the 200m breaststroke, beating the Titans’ Anton McKee. “I saw him next to me the whole time. I knew I had to have my A-Game,” he said.

Anastasia Gorbenko upset Kelsey Wog in the women’s 200m individual medley, pulling LA to within one point of the Condors at one stage.

LA finished the day strongly with their quartet of men doing just enough to thwart the Condors’ challenge and triumph in the 4x100m medley relay, giving them a good chance of some big points in the skins race tomorrow.

Maxime Rooney said she expected the Current to close in on the Condors and the team was getting better with every match.

“Absolutely. Our coaches are saying we have a chance to be in the final and in contention to win it.”

Iron will propels Budapest team

After a difficult start, the Budapest-based Iron broke their duck in race 9 when Ranomi Kromowidjojo put the burners on to win the women’s 50m freestyle. She beat LA’s Abbey Weitzeil  to pick up 17 valuable race points.

The Dutch swimmer’s inspirational victory spurred a good period for the Iron. Leonardo Santos looked impressive in his 200m individual medley win.

Emre Sakci then underscored his class in the 50m breaststroke. Gunning for the 25.25 world record set in 2009, he missed out but posted a fast 25.54 and bagged 24 points in a jackpot win.

Ida Hulkko from Iron remained hopeful after a day of mixed results for her team: “I am excited for tomorrow, we are surely going to fight for third or second place. I hope tomorrow is going to be a better day.”

Toronto squeezed out of big points

The Canadian team contested some tight races but just missed out on a few wins that would have lifted them further up the scoreboard.

But some superb swimming gave them five second places and eight third places to keep the points rolling in.

The ISL newbies have nothing to lose heading into the final 19 races of the meet.

Kylie Masse said they were in a “tough battle” with the Iron. “It’s really exciting going into Day 2. I am super proud of this season, a lot of people have done amazing times and got some amazing points.”

Day One, 2nd semi-final winners
1.Women’s 100m Butterfly – Beryl Gastaldello, LA Current – 55.32
2. Men’s 100m Butterfly – Caeleb Dressel, Cali Condors – 48.92
3. Women’s 200m Backstroke – Beata Nelson, Cali Condors –2:01.65
4. Men’s 200m Backstroke – Ryan Murphy, LA Current – 1:47.48
5. Women’s 200m Breaststroke – Lilly King, Cali Condors –2:16.79
6. Men’s 200m Breaststroke – Will Licon, LA Current – 2:02.47
7. Women’s 4x100m Freestyle – Cali Condors (Smoliga, Brown, Schmitt, Hinds) – 3:28.52
8. Men’s 50m Freestyle – Caeleb Dressel, Cali Condors – 20.28
9. Women’s 50m Freestyle – Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Iron –23.37
10. Men’s 200m Individual Medley – Leonardo Santos, Iron 1:52.06
11. Women’s 200m Individual Medley – Anastasia Gorbenko, LA Current –2:06.68
12. Men’s 50m Breaststroke – Emre Sakci, Iron – 25.54
13. Women’s 50m Breaststroke – Molly Hannis, Cali Condors – 29.24
14. Men’s 4x100m Freestyle – LA Current (Rooney, Shields, Gkolomeev, Carter) –3:04.78
15. Women’s 50m Backstroke – Olivia Smoliga, Cali Condors –25.75
16. Men’s 50m Backstroke – Ryan Murphy, LA Current – 22.76
17. Women’s 400m Freestyle – Hali Flickinger, Cali Condors –4:00.79
18. Men’s 400m Freestyle – Townley Haas, Cali Condors – 3:41.35
19. Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay – Cali Condors (Smoliga, King, Dahlia, Brown) – 3:48.09
20. Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay – LA Current (Murphy, Silva Franca, Shields, Rooney) – 3:20.61

Team Standings
1. Cali Condors – 282
2. LA Current – 255
3. Iron – 173
4. Toronto Titans – 171

MVP Standings
1. Caeleb Dressel – 37pts
2. Ryan Murphy – 35.5pts
3. Emre Sakci – 29pts

Toussaint’s outing kept the Roar within striking distance of Energy Standard, which continued its strong form from the preliminary matches to claim nine race wins and top the standings with 291 points.

London is on track to join Energy Standard in the Season 2020 Grand Final on November 21 and 22 by sitting second on 270. The Tokyo Frog Kings are third with 208, while the NY Breakers sit fourth on 114.

The match remains balanced after Energy Standard and London Roar each claimed a choice of stroke for the 50m elimination skins races. Energy Standard has the choice for the women’s race after its quartet won the 4x100m medley relay, while London chooses the men’s stroke.

Standard sustain momentum

Sarah Sjostrom gave Energy Standard a winning start when she came home first in the women’s 100m butterfly in 55.44, but London’s Marie Wattel stopped a one-two when she pipped Anastasiya Shkurdai to second place.

Chad le Clos matched Sjostrom’s win in the men’s 100m butterfly. The South African trailed at the halfway mark but powered through the final 50m to win with 49.14 with London’s Marius Kusch second.

Emily Seebohm made it three wins from the first three races, when she finished first in the 200m backstroke in 2:01.04.

“I always get so much motivation watching Sarah Sjostrom and Chad (le Clos),” Seebohm said. “I knew I had to step up. I definitely feel the energy rising as we move into the semis.”

Sjostrom returned to the pool alongside Siobhan Haughey, Pernille Blume and Femke Heemskerk to give Energy Standard its fourth win of the day with victory in the 4x100m freestyle relay in 3:25.82, a world’s best for a quartet of mixed nationalities.

Sjostrom and Florent Manaudou won the women’s and men’s 50m freestyle. Sjostrom finished in 23.43 and Manaudou in 20.63.

Italian teenager Benedetta Pilato held off London’s Alia Atkinson to win the women’s 50m butterfly before the men’s 4x100m relay team added another win.

Evgeny Rylov, le Clos and Kliment Kolesnikov gave Manaudou a slight lead over London’s anchor swimmer Duncan Scott, but the Frenchman showed his class to swim away and bring the team home in 3:05.72.

Seebohm, Pilato, Madeline Banic and Sjostrom added another relay victory in the women’s 4x100m, their 3:45.58 setting another new world best for a team of mixed nationalities.

Scott gets Roar rolling

Duncan Scott ended London’s wait for a victory when he beat favorite Kosuke Hagino of the Frog Kings in the men’s 200m individual medley, needing a season-best 1:51.66 to do so.

Team captain Adam Peaty then showed his class to win the men’s 50m breaststroke. He trailed Energy Standard’s Ilya Shymanovich at the turn but powered through the second 25m to win with a new British record of 25.50.

“In the four previous matches I have been doing my training and getting my races done, now I’m bringing the emotion, bringing the fight, and bringing the drive,” Peaty said. “It’s all about the team effort and everyone is doing their job.”

Guilherme Guido matched Toussaint’s victory in the men’s 50m backstroke and led home a one-two finish ahead of Christian Diener with a time of 22.89.

Tom Dean ended Danas Rapsys’ run of four victories in the 400m freestyle when he held off the Lithuanian to win in 3:37.87.

Scott then shone for London in the 4x100m medley relay. He was given a slight lead over Manaudou at the final change and then fought hard to hold off the Frenchman and finish .05 seconds ahead.

Frog Kings keep up chase for final place

Tokyo captain Ryosuke Irie gave the Frog Kings its first victory of the day and his first in the men’s 200m backstroke. He held off Energy Standard’s Kolesnikov and Rylov, who has won the race three times in Season 2020, to win in 1:49.02.

Yui Ohashi produced a strong finish to win the women’s 200m individual medley in 2:03.93. She was second over the first 100m, but grabbed the lead over the final stretch to hold off London Roar’s Sydney Pickrem and finish with the fastest time in the distance this season.

Leah Smith kept up her unbeaten run in the 400m freestyle in Season 2020. She finished in 3:58.26, ahead of Standard’s Haughey, who was chasing her third 400m freestyle victory.

“I knew that if I wanted a best time, I had to take it out with Siobhan and then have a good back end,” Smith said. “It didn’t go as well at the start, so I was counting on my back half to finish it.”

Escobedo impresses for NY

Emily Escobedo enjoyed the NY Breakers only win of the day. She reached the wall first in the women’s 200m breaststroke in 2:16.71.

It was her first victory of Season 2020 and she needed to hold her form at the end as London’s Annie Lazor closed in.

“It was our toughest session today and there are lots of areas to improve on,” the Breakers’ Michael Andrew said. “The times were there, but the rest of the competition has raised their level and all we can do is learn from today and try and up our game.”

Day 1 Winners

100 Butterfly – Sarah Sjostrom, Energy Standard – 55.44
200 Backstroke – Emily Seebohm, Energy Standard – 2:01.04
200m Breaststroke – Emily Escobedo, NY Breakers – 2:16.71
4 x 100m Freestyle – Energy Standard (Haughey, Blume, Heemskerk, Sjostrom) – 3:25.82
50m Freestyle – Sarah Sjostrom, Energy Standard – 23.43
200m Individual Medley – Yui Ohashi, Tokyo Frog Kings – 2:03.93
50m Breaststroke – Benedetta Pilato, Energy Standard – 28.86
50m Backstroke – Kira Toussaint, London Roar – 25.60
400m Freestyle – Leah Smith, Tokyo Frog Kings – 3:58.26
4 x 100m Medley – Energy Standard (Seebohm, Pilato, Banic, Sjostrom) – 3:45.58

100 Butterfly – Chad le Clos, Energy Standard – 49.14
200 Backstroke – Irie Ryosuke, Tokyo Frog Kings – 1:49.02
200m Breaststroke – Kirill Prigoda, London Roar – 2:01.20
50m Freestyle – Florent Manaudou, Energy Standard – 20.63
200m Individual Medley – Duncan Scott, London Roar – 1:51.66
50m Breaststroke – Adam Peaty, London Roar – 25.50
4 x 100m Freestyle – Energy Standard (Rylov, le Clos, Kolesnikov, Manaudou) – 3:05.72
50m Backstroke – Guilherme Guido, London Roar, 22.89
400m Freestyle – Tom Dean, London Roar – 3:37.87
4 x 100m Medley – London Roar (Guido, Peaty, Kusch, Scott) – 3:19.50

Match Standings after Day 1
1 Energy Standard – 291.0
2 London Roar – 270.0
3 Tokyo Frog Kings – 208.0
4 NY Breakers – 114.0

MVP Standings after Day 1
1 Sarah Sjostrom, Energy Standard – 35.0
2 Benedetta Pilato, Energy Standard – 23.5
3 Emily Seebohm, Energy Standard – 22.0

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: The top two teams from each semifinal will battle it out in the Grand Final on November 21 and 22.

ISL SOCIAL: Keep up with all the latest ISL news by following @iswimleague on Instagram and Twitter and @internationalswimmingleague on Facebook and YouTube. Visit

DIGITAL PLATFORM: 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: After the end of each match, a virtual mixed zone will be held that can be accessed via this zoom link.