Abbey Weitzeil, Beata Nelson Leading Charge As ISL Rookies Make Presence Known After NCAA Career

abbey-weitzeil
Abbey Weitzeil. Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

Abbey Weitzeil, Beata Nelson Leading Charge As ISL Rookies Make Presence Known

When the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships were canceled in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was understandably devastating for all the swimmers and coaches involved. And no one was hurt more than the seniors, who missed out on finishing their college careers on their own terms. But with the still relatively young International Swimming League taking the sport by storm, last year’s senior class has been able to transition nicely to the next chapter and truly train like professionals.

In the ISL Budapest bubble in Hungary, the 10 teams are all housed on Margaret Island in between Buda and Pest and are in a condensed six-week training camp with frequent racing opportunities in order to crown a league champion at the end of November. Last year’s NCAA senior class, despite having a disappointing finish to their amateur careers, has been clutch for their respective pro teams.

LA Current rookie Abbey Weitzeil dropped a half second off her best time in short course meters in the 50 freestyle with a 23.79 on Saturday, lowering Dara Torres’ American mark of 23.82 from the 2007 FINA World Cup in Berlin. Weitzeil’s time is the fourth fastest in the ISL this season as Kasia Wasick of the New York Breakers leads the rankings with a 23.43 on Monday.

The sprint field is slightly lacking this season without London Roar’s Cate and Bronte Campbell, as well as reigning long course World champ Simone Manuel but the field is still deep, led by Wasick, Sarah Sjostrom (23.48) and Ranomi Kromowidjojo (23.64). Weitzeil has been a welcome addition to the Current as she and Beryl Gastaldello proved to be a huge 1-2 punch in the 50 free.

Not only did they tie for first in the individual 50 free, but they finished first and second in the Skins freestyle event on Sunday to propel the Current over the Tokyo Frog Kings and seal the win for the match.

Abbey Weitzeil is not the only rookie making her presence known this ISL season.

Beata Nelson

Beata Nelson. Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS / ISL

Beata Nelson of the Cali Condors, who had a stellar NCAA career at Wisconsin, secured her first win on Monday in the 200 backstroke with the fastest time in the league at 2:01.31. Nelson has been primarily the number two backstroker for the Condors, playing second fiddle to Olivia Smoliga in the 50 and 100. But in the 200, Nelson came up big on Monday with the world leading time.

Weitzeil and Nelson, who were supposed to finish their college careers this March and expected to challenge a couple American records along the way, have transitioned nicely to the professional ranks and have been clutch for their teams in the process.

maxime-rooney

Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

Maxime Rooney, another rookie for the LA Current with Abbey Weitzeil, sits third in the ISL in the 100 butterfly (49.84) and seventh in the 100 free (46.54) as he has been a huge addition to the Current’s relays. The Current had one of the best men’s sprint core group last year, led by Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian as well as Olympians Matt GreversRyan Held, Blake Pieroni and Michael Chadwick. This off-season, Adrian and Held elected to stay home during the ISL while Chadwick and Pieroni joined the Toronto Titans, leaving the sprint depth weaker for the Current. But Rooney has stepped in nicely, and has been a huge boost for the sprint relays, giving the Current two wins in the medley relay, allowing them to choose the stroke of the Skins event to close out the meet.

Louise Hansson

Louise Hansson. Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS / ISL

Coleman Stewart, who was an NCAA champion at NC State, is ranked as high as fourth in the 100 backstroke for the Cali Condors, and has helped fill the void after Australian Mitch Larkin had to withdraw from participating in the league over concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic. Erika Brown, another member of the Condors, was in line to potentially win her first NCAA individual title and help Tennessee to a historic team finish. In the early days of the ISL, she is ranked as high as eighth in the 100 fly and 12th in the 50 free.

Louise Hansson, who was our cover athlete ahead of the 2020 NCAAs, has made her ISL debut with the new Toronto Titans and is ranked third in the world in the 100 butterfly in her first meet as a pro. The Titans, a new pro team in the league, are notably missing key relay pieces in Penny Oleksiak and Kayla Sanchez, but finished third in their debut match this weekend by the Current and the Frog Kings.

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