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MVP Battle, sprint showdowns, heading into ISL Texas match

by ZwemZa on October 18th, 2019

Over 100 Olympians are represented by the ISL, including 41 Olympic gold medals from the 2016 Olympic Games.

The first two matches in the inaugural season of the International Swimming League are in the books, and were a great success drawing rave reviews from the athletes and spectators.

After the same four clubs competed in Indianapolis and Naples, Group A, it is now time for the other half of the ISL to get in on the action.

Lewisville Storylines

  • Skins Races Matter: The Group B clubs had the benefit of watching the first two matches, giving them a chance to get a feel for how things played out, what worked and what didn’t, and what their plan of attack will be when the time comes.

So what did they learn? The most prevalent storyline that came out of Indy and Naples was how important the match-ending skins races are. The three-round 50 freestyle eliminator (8-4-2) is worth triple the points of a regular event, and it was the key reason for Energy Standard turning a relatively close first match into a blowout, and then for them to come from over 30 points down to beat the Cali Condors in  a magical ending to the second match.

  • Sprint Showdown – Men’s: One of the marquee matchups for the next two competitions will be Kyle Chalmers versus Vladimir Morozov in the men’s sprint freestyle events. Chalmers, a 21-year-old Australian who rose to stardom when he won the gold medal in the 100 free at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, has historically been better in the long course pool, and is someone who always performs when it matters most. Morozov is quite the opposite. The 27-year-old Russian has become arguably the best male short course swimmer in the world, and has an incredible ability to perform in consecutive matches. 

Their two styles will collide in the ISL, as there will be a lot on the line, but also fast-paced sessions with a lot of racing back-to-back in the small pool.

  • Sprint Showdown – Women’s: Sarah Sjostrom was a dominant force in the first two matches, going a perfect 6-for-6 in the female sprint free events between the 50, 100, and the skins event. However, the athletes set to compete in Lewisville promise to make these races much more competitive. 

Australian sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell will race for the London Roar, both individual World Champions who are consistently among the world’s best every year, and then the last two 50 free Olympic champions Ranomi Kromowidjojo (2012) and Pernille Blume (2016) will race for Iron and the NY Breakers respectively.

  • MVP Battle: In the first two matches, the race for MVP, awarded to the athlete who compiles the most points for his or her team, was straightforward. Sjostrom sailed to the win in Indianapolis, and then Caeleb Dressel edged her out when he made his debut in Naples. Neither of them was a surprise winner. However, heading into Lewisville this battle looks to be much more wide open. 

The first name that comes to mind is Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, the ‘Iron Lady’, who has made a living competing every single weekend while racing (and mostly winning) an insane number of events. However, Hosszu is not a sprint freestyler, and the points available in the skins is so significant that it will hurt her chances of claiming MVP. She cannot be counted out, but will have to pile up a lot of points throughout the match to build a lead big enough to hold off the top finishers in the skins.

Two men who won’t have that problem are Morozov and American Michael Andrew. Both are very versatile across all four strokes, like Hosszu, but specialize in the 50s and 100s rather than the 200s and 400s. This will give them a better opportunity to earn extra points, not only in the skins, but also on relays.

  • LA Current Male Backstrokers: The LA Current boast a formidable club of Americans, and headlining the team are Matt Grevers and Ryan Murphy, two of the best male backstrokers in the world. They represent the last two Olympic gold medalists in the 100 back (Grevers in 2012, Murphy in 2016), and this 1-2 punch should give them a massive boost compared to their opponents. Similar to what we saw from the Cali Condor women with Olivia Smoliga and Kylie Masse, they should be able to put the Current medley relays in first and second place right off the hop as well.

About the ISL: The International Swimming League is a global professional swimming competition launching in 2019 with teams in both Europe (Italy-based Aqua Centurions, France-based Energy Standard, Hungary-based Iron, and London Roar) and the United States (Cali Condors, DC Trident, LA Current, NY Breakers). The inaugural season will include matches in Indianapolis IN, Naples ITA, Lewisville TX, Budapest HUN, College Park MD, London GBR, and the championship finale at the 12,000-seat Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV. The ISL aims to create groundbreaking projects, in both form and content, exploring the full potential of competitive swimming while securing sustainable commercial growth in the sport.

Key Dates:

5-6 October 2019 – IU Natatorium, Indianapolis, USA

12-13 October 2019 – Aquatic Swimming Complex, Naples, Italy

19-20 October 2019 – The LISD Westside Aquatic Center, Lewisville, Texas, USA

26-27 October 2019 – Duna Area, Budapest, Hungary

16-17 November 2019 – Natatorium at the Eppley Recreation Center, Maryland, USA

23-24 November 2019 – London Aquatic Centre, Great Britain

20-21 December 2019 – Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, USA

ISL

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