On November 11th and 12th, match 12 of the Third Season of the ISL which is also the first match of the play-off stage was held at the “Pieter van den Hoogenband Zwemstadion” swimming arena in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The participating teams were Cali Condors (CAC), Energy Standard (ENS), DC Trident (DCT) and Iron (IRO).
During the previous stage – Regular season, held between August 26th and September 30th in Naples, Italy, eight teams out of ten were selected for the next stage – the play-offs. Six teams got to the play-offs based on a 10-game winning streak, while the other two were chosen through a “Revival match” / “Match of Death”, which featured the underdogs ranked 7 through 10.
Energy Standard, the 2019 Champions, were the winners of the Third Regular Season, taking the first place in all four matches in which they participated.
Cali Condors, the 2020 Champions, finished 2nd, with 1 point less than Energy, due to one sensational loss to the London Roar. Meanwhile, Energy and Cali did not meet at the Regular Season stage.
Both team Iron and the DC Trident made it to the playoff stage through a “Revival Match” / “Match of Death” where they won over NY Breakers and Tokyo Frog Kings to continue competing in this season.
Match 12 essentially split into two contests: Energy Standard and the Condors were battling for the 1st place until the very end, while Iron and DC were competing for the 3rd.
Cali Condors – 534.5 (4 club points)
Energy Standard – 522 (3)
DC Trident – 359.5 (2)
Iron – 340 (1)
The distribution of the first two places happened both due to evident as well as more coincidental outcomes of the races. Obviously, one should keep in mind that the Condors played without their leader – 7-times Olympic champion (2 golds in Rio de Janeiro and 5 in Tokyo) Caeleb DRESSEL. However, Energy will also be strengthened by the arrival of Chad le CLOS – an Olympic champion in the London games and multiple world champion (last time – in 2018).
In the first third of the first day, the Condors took the lead thanks to their successful performances on the women’s distances. Kelsi DAHLIA won the 100m butterfly with a jackpot of 15 points and Erica BROWN added another 6 points for the 3rd place. Energy representatives – Sarah SJOSTROM and Madeline BANIC – took the 2nd and 4th places in the same race.
Beata NELSON was a confident winner in the 200m backstroke, however she finished with only a minimum jackpot (10 points) at an expense of her teammate who came in last. So the team winner of the swim was Energy, whose Mary-Sophie HARVEY and Anastasiya SHKURDAI took the 2nd and 3rd place, respectively.
In the 200m breaststroke Lilly KING won with a jackpot of 19 points.
In the begging of the match, the two ironmen had a good start: Nicholas SANTOS won the men’s 100m butterfly (no jackpot) and then Lorenzo MORA won the men’s 200m backstroke with a jackpot of 12 points, to which Robert GLINTA added 5 points for the 4th place.
Energy Standard won the men’s 200m breaststroke thanks to Ilya SHYMANOVICH (no jackpot), who was 0.15 seconds ahead of Eric PERSSON of Iron. The other ENS representative Charlie SWANSON took the 3rd place and 6 points.
In the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay, the Standard’s Siobhan HAUGHEY, Janja SEGEL, Femke HEEMSKERK and Sarah SJOSTROM beat the Condors’ Olivia SMOLIGA, Erica BROWN, Beata NELSON and Natalie HINDS by 0.74 seconds and took a jackpot of 30 points (remember, in relays the points are doubled).
At this point the position of the teams was as follows:
CAC – 97
ENS – 90
IRO – 62
DCT – 39
The close results of the Condors and Energy foreshadowed a fierce contest. The Tridents, as it soon turned out, did not accept the role of the outsiders and entered the fight for the 3rd place.
The second third of the first day began with Cali’s Justin RESS winning the men’s 50m freestyle by 0.04 seconds over Thom de BOER (IRO), 0.05 over Ben PROUD (ENS) and 0.07 over Ryan HOFFER (DCT). With such tight results it is not surprising that the winner’s jackpot was minimal – 10 points.
A solid jackpot of 15 points for the Standard was taken by Sarah SJOSTROM in the women’s 50m freestyle, where she beat Ranomi KROMOWIDJOJO of Iron by nearly 0.4 seconds.
In the women’s 200m individual medley Beata NELSON brought 12 points to the Condors, to which Kathrin DEMLER added 3 more for the 6th place. Energy took 11 points in the same swim for the 3rd place by Mary-Sophie HARVEY and 4th for Victoria GUNES.
In between the two latter swims, the first individual DC Trident victory (with a jackpot of 12 points) came from Andreas VAZAIOS in the men’s 200m IM.
Then, the leaders exchanged powerful “strokes”. First, in the men’s 50m breaststroke, Ilya SHYMANOVICH and Felipe LIMA took the 1st and 2nd places, respectively. SHYMANOVICH got a jackpot of 24 points, so Energy earned a total of 31 points for the swim. The 3rd finisher, who was the last to get points on the distance, was Nic FINK from the Condors.
After that, Energy took a 15-point lead in the match.
However, immediately at the same distance for women, the Condors’ had a 1-2 victory by Lilly King, who got 15 points, and Molly HANNIS, who got 7. Energy Standard earned 5 points only for Siobhan HAUGHEY’s 4th place finish. The Condors came forward in the team standings, although symbolically, by only 2 points.
The men’s 4x100m freestyle relay, in retrospect, can largely be considered decisive for the outcome of the rivalry between the leaders. The first Energy Standard’s team was disqualified due to an error while passing the baton after the first stage, during which Energy was leading in the race. Moreover, their second relay team got under the jackpot and did not get any points, leaving their team with a final minus 4 point result.
The first place in this relay was taken by the first Condors team (Kasper MAJCHRZAK, Jesse PUTS, Marcin CIESLAK and Justin RESS) with a 38-point jackpot, beating team Iron’s squad (Robert GLINTA, Matt RICARDS, Maxim LOBANOVSZKIJ and Thom de BOER) by slightly more than a second. The second CAC team was not only caught by the jackpot, but also was penalized by 2 points for not making the cut-off time (the maximum allowed time for the distance).
As a result, the Сondors took a serious lead:
CAC – 202
ENS – 160
IRO – 119
DCT – 95
In a very tough competition, in the women’s 50m backstroke, Maaike de WAARD of the Condors and Simona KUBOVA of Energy finished with the same result and shared the 1st place (without a jackpot), receiving 8 points each. However, the Condors took more points overall, as Olivia SMOLIGA added 5 for finishing 4th, while Energy’s Georgia Davies only brought her team 3 points for the 6th place.
Afterwards, the Energy team won three swims in a row, closing the gap with the Condors down to 1 point.
First, Kliment KOLESNIKOV won the 50m backstroke with a minimum jackpot, finishing ahead of Guilherme BASSETO from Iron by 0.07 seconds. Evgenii RYLOV added 4 points to the Standard’s ‘piggybank’ for the 5th place, meanwhile the Condors advanced by only 4 points.
Then, in the women’s 400m freestyle, Siobhan HAUGHEY took 19 points (jackpot of 12 points + 7 points for the 1st place at the 100m mark) and Helena ROSENDAHL BACH added 7 points to team Energy (5 for the 4th place + 2 for the 4th place at the 100m mark).
Two DC swimmers also showed great results in the same race: Joanna EVANS and Leah NEALE finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively, and took 10 points each. EVANS got 7 points for the 2nd place + 3 for the 3rd at the first 100m, while NEALE took 6 for the 3rd place overall + 4 for the 2nd place at first quarter of the course.
Team Iron, who were ahead of DCT in the team standings, finished in the last two places, getting the penalty of minus 2 points for failing to meet the cut-off time.
Lastly, Kregor ZIRK won brilliantly on the same distance for men, taking 19 points (minimal jackpot at the finish + a 9-point jackpot at the 100m mark). Energy took 23 points overall, against the 9 that went to Cali. The Tridents took 13 points and moved into the 3rd place, while team Iron only took 7 points.
It was time for the 4x100m medley relay races, which, in addition to double points, give the winner the right to determine the style of the skins that happen at the end of day 2. Recall, that in Season 3 the teams that finish 2nd and 3rd in the mixed medley relays eliminate 1 stroke each and the winner chooses one out of the two remaining.
Both medley relay races were taken by the Condors: Beata NELSON (backstroke), Lilly KING (breaststroke) and Kelsi DAHLIA (butterfly) made more than a 3-second margin against Mary-Sophie HARVEY, Jessica MONTERO and Anastasiya SHKURDAI of Energy. The latter team’s star Sarah SJOSTROM was only able to catch up with Erika BROWN by half the lead time on freestyle, so the Condors victory in the women’s relay was secured.
However, this only slightly increased the gap between the two teams, as the Condors took 28 points overall, while Energy took 24.
In the men’s relay, on the other hand, the outcome was decided at the last 25 meters: Cali’s first relay team (Coleman STEWART, Nic FINK, Jose MARTINEZ and Justin RESS) was ahead of the Tridents (Mark NIKOLAEV, Tommy COPE, Zach HARTING and Aleksandr SHCHEGOLEV) by 0.22 seconds and ahead of Energy (Evgenii RYLOV, Ilya SHYMANOVICH, Adam BARRETT and Kliment KOLESNIKOV) by 0.38 seconds. The Condors won taking 24 points overall against Energy’s 12.
After the relays, the Tridents were able to maintain their 3rd place and slightly increase the gap with Iron. In the women’s medley relay DC took 16 points against 6 that went to Iron and in the men’s relay DCT got 20 points against 18 for IRO.
After the first day the teams were positioned as follows:
Cali Condors – 287
Energy Standard – 270
DC Trident – 179
Iron – 164
As it turned out, the main factor that determined the winner of the match on Day 2 was not the difference in the scores, but the strokes chosen by the Condors for the skins.
Day 2 commenced with two victories from Energy Standard in both men’s and women’s 100m freestyle. Siobhan HAUGHEY (with a minimum jackpot) and Sarah SJOSTROM had a double (1-2) win. Kliment KOLESNIKOV won the men’s race (no jackpot), however Justin RESS took the 2nd place and Kasper MAJCHRZAK took the 4th, bringing Cali a total of 12 points, which was 2 more than Energy received.
The next two distances, men’s and women’s 200m butterfly, were for Cali Condors. Kelsi DAHLIA won the women’s event with a minimum jackpot, while Eddie Wang won the men’s event without a jackpot.
Then, the Tridents showed their dominance in the 100m backstroke, proving their worthiness for the 3rd place. In the women’s event, Ali DELOOF won without a jackpot; however, Cali scored 12 points for the 2nd and 3rd place taken by Olivia SMOLIGA and Maaike de WAARD, respectively, against 11 points that went to DC. In the men’s event, the 1st place was taken by Mark NIKOLAEV with a jackpot of 15 points.
In the women’s 100m individual medley Beata NELSON of the Condors beat Mary-Sophie HARVEY of Energy by 0.01 sec and took a jackpot of 12 points. But thanks to Anastasiya SHKURDAI’s 3rd place, Energy gained 13 points, while the other member of the Condors got jackpotted.
On the same distance for men, Andrei ZHILKIN from the Standard beat the Tridents’ Andreas VAZAIOS by 0.03 seconds and won 12 jackpot points for his team.
At this point the position of the teams was as follows:
CAC – 371
ENS – 355
DCT – 246
IRO – 221
Cali earned big points in the next swim – the women’s 100m breaststroke: Lilly KING took a jackpot of 19 points and Molly HANNIS added 7 more for the 2nd place. At the same time, both representatives from Energy Standard got under the jackpot and did not get any points.
On the same distance for men, the Standard’s Ilya SHYMANOVICH took the win with the same jackpot, while Felipe LIMA added 6 more points for the 3rd place. Nic FINK wedged between the two Energy representatives, bringing the Condors 7 points.
In the women’s 50m butterfly, Energy’s Sarah SJOSTROM was first, taking 12 points. On the same distance for men, Iron’s Nicholas SANTOS won with a jackpot of 15 points, while the second place went to DC’s Camden MURPHY.
Siobhan HAUGHEY won the women’s 200m freestyle with a jackpot of 12 points and Janja SEGEL added 6 more points for the 3rd place. At this point, Energy overtook the Condors.
In the men’s 200m freestyle the Tridents had a 1-2 win by Aleksandr SHCHEGOLEV (minimum jackpot) and Velimir STEPANOVICH.
Position of the teams at this point were as follows:
ENS – 436
CAC – 429
DCT – 282
IRO – 266
In the mixed freestyle relay Energy Standard (Evgenii RYLOV, Ilya SHYMANOVICH, Anastasiya SHKURDAI and Sarah SJOSTROM) came in 1st with jackpot of 30 points. Both Energy relay teams took a total of 40 points against 14 for Cali.
The final two distances, the women’s and men’s 400m IM, were taken by the Trident’s Bailey ANDISON and Andreas VAZAIOS, respectively.
Before the skin races the position of the clubs was as follows:
ENS – 497
CAC – 472
DCT – 330
IRO – 291
The gap of 25 points between the leaders was evened out by a “bonus” for CAC in a form of a choice of stroke of the skins: backstroke for women and freestyle for men.
One member from each team went through to the semi-finals of the women’s 50m backstroke skins. Mary-Sophie HARVEY from Energy won the first round; however she did not get to the finals as the second round went to Cali’s Maaike de WAARD (1st place) and DC’ Ali DELOOF. Maaike de WAARD won the women’s skins and narrowed the gap between the Condors and Energy down to 4.5 points. Meanwhile, the Tridents secured themselves the 3rd place.
In the men’s freestyle skins, none of the representatives from Energy made it to the semi-finals, which made the Condors victory in the match inevitable. Cali’s Justin RESS took the 1st place in the first round of the skins as well as made it to the finals, giving in the 1st place to Thom de BOER of Iron in the second round. Even though, de BOER won both the semi-final and the final of skins, Iron was still unable to overtake the Tridents.
ABOUT THE ISL: The International Swimming League is the first global professional swimming team-based competition. Founded in 2018, the league currently consists of 10 teams based in North America (Cali Condors, DC Trident, LA Current, NY Breakers and Toronto Titans), Europe (Italy-based Aqua Centurions, Energy Standard, Hungary-based Iron, and the UK-based London Roar) and Asia (Tokyo Frog Kings).
ISL Season 3 will take place in three phases, with Naples, Italy, first playing host to the 10 ISL clubs in a five-week regular season from 26 August to 30 September. This will be followed by a Play-off phase of three weeks in November, which will bring together the top eight ISL Clubs to compete for a spot in the ISL Final. The ISL Grand Final is set to take place at the end of December or early January 2022, when the ISL Champions will be crowned.
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