ISL Final: Energy Standard Holds Off Cali Condors to Win League Title During Exciting Final Day

SJOSTROM Sarah ENS Energy Standard (ENS) ISL International Swimming League 2021 Match 8 day 1 Piscina Felice Scandone Napoli, Naples Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Sarah Sjostrom (center) was the season MVP as Energy Standard reclaimed the ISL title -- Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

ISL Final: Energy Standard Holds Off Cali Condors to Win League Title in Exciting Final Day

The final match of the third International Swimming League (ISL) came down to the wire as the 2019 league champions and 2020 league champions faced off. The Cali Condors led for most of day one before Energy Standard claimed a 30-point jackpot win in the women’s 400 medley relay following a controversial Cali Condors DQ. Then, on day two, the two teams went back and forth over the final day before, in the end, Energy Standard held on to win by just 12 points.

Energy finished with 534 points, while Cali scored 522 in a valiant runner-up effort. London, missing star backstroker Kira Toussaint for the entire ISL final, finished fourth, while LA Current was fourth.

The MVP of both the ISL final and the entire ISL season was Sarah Sjostrom, who scored 61 points in the match and 511.5 for the entire season. On the final day, Sjostrom scored a huge win in the 100 IM over Cali Condors’ Beata Nelson and anchored Energy’s mixed 400 medley relay to a huge win. Sjostrom also finished second in the 100 free and 50 fly.

Additionally, Energy Standard’s Siobhan Haughey dominated the women’s 100 free and 200 free, and she ended the season with 468 points to finish second in the season MVP totals. On the men’s side, Ben Proud pulled off a win in the 50 fly, and later, Proud and Adam Barrett secured the title when both advanced to the second round in men’s butterfly skins.

Cali, meanwhile, had plenty of huge performances on day two. Nic Fink completed a sweep of the breaststroke events by breaking his own American record in the 100-meter event and upsetting Ilya Shymanovich again. Fink ended up with 59.5 points for the match to finish second in the MVP standings. Also for Cali, Hali Flickinger earned wins in the 200 fly and 400 IM, the latter in a come-from-behind effort, while Caeleb Dressel swam a limited program of events but still won the 100 IM and 50 butterfly skins. Lilly King won the 100 breast for Cali, while Kelsi Dahlia, who set the world record in the 100 fly on day one, upset Sjostrom in the 50 fly.

Final Team Scores

  1. Energy Standard 534
  2. Cali Condors 522
  3. London Roar 393.5
  4. LA Current 303.5


Women’s 100 Freestyle

Energy Standard got off to a huge start and extended their day one lead with a 1-2 finish and 16 huge points in the women’s 100 free. Siobhan Haughey dominated the race won in 50.79, taking down the league record of 50.94 she set last year, and Haughey moved to fourth all-time in the event. Meanwhile, Sarah Sjostrom swam a 51.26 to grab second-place points for Energy. That duo left the Olympic gold medalist in the long course 100 freestyle, Emma McKeon, in the dust. McKeon tied Sjostrom for swam the second-fastest time in history in the 100 free earlier this year (50.58), but she settled for third here in 51.58.

LA Current’s Abbey Weitzeil was fourth in 51.98, while Cali Condors’ two swimmers here placed fifth (Erika Brown, 52.08) and seventh (Natalie Hinds, 52.32), leaving the Condors with just six points.

Men’s 100 Freestyle

London Roar’s Kyle Chalmers picked up the win here as expected, but he had an unexpected fight on his hands from Cali Condors’ Justin Ress. Chalmers touched 45.73, well off his world record of 44.84 set in late October, but he got the first-place points as he beat Ress by two tenths. Ress finished in 45.93 for second place.

Caeleb Dressel, the league-record holder and the Olympic gold medalist by six hundredths over Chalmers, sat out the 100 free, leaving Ress to carry the load for Cali, and he delivered. He went out in 21.87, two hundredths ahead of Chalmers, and he held on for a very impressive second-place finish.

London Roar went 1-3 here as Dylan Carter claimed third in 46.45.

Women’s 200 Butterfly

The Cali Condors were in need of a win and big points, and they got it from Hali Flickinger in the women’s 200 fly, as expected. The veteran and Olympic bronze medalist in the event has been a huge addition for the Condors over the past three weeks, and Flickinger here recorded a time of 2:03.73 to win by almost two seconds. London’s Ilaria Bianchi was out fast and led by seven tenths after 50 meters, but Flickinger had almost caught her by the halfway point before dominating the second half of the race.

Flickinger jackpotted four swimmers for 15 total points, and the news was even better for Cali as Katarine Savard surged over the second 100 meters to place second in 2:05.72. Savard was fourth with 50 meters to go but out-split the entire field except Flickinger on the way home. Third went to Energy Standard’s Helena Rosendahl Bach in 2:06.21, while Bianchi faded to fourth (2:07.55).

Men’s 200 Butterfly

As he so often does, Energy Standard’s Chad le Clos jumped out to an early lead in the 200 fly, and he led at the 100-meter mark at 53.33 with Cali Condors’ Eddie Wang right behind him. But the second half brought a back-and-forth showdown. Energy Standard’s Kregor Zirk took over at the 150-meter mark, but it was London’s Teppei Morimoto who surged home down the stretch. He finished in 27.93, more than a half-second quicker than anyone else in the field, to win in 1:50.44.

Le Clos finished hard after struggling on the third 50, and he touched in 1:50.97 for second place, just ahead of teammate Zirk (1:51.14). Wang (1:51.27) and Jose Martinez (1:51.39) finished just behind Cali.

Women’s 100 Backstroke

Ingrid Wilm picked up the first win of the day for the LA Current with a dominant performance in the women’s 100 back. London’s Kira Toussaint was absent again, but Wilm was still facing a tough field here. Still, she was up by almost a half-second after 50 meters and then she pulled away to win by nine tenths. Wilm concluded her breakout ISL campaign with a 55.73.

Meanwhile, Cali Condors’ Olivia Smoliga picked up second-place points with her time of 56.63, just ahead of Energy Standard’s Mary-Sophie Harvey (56.84). That gave Cali a bit of an edge in the points battle over Energy Standard, and so did Maaike de Waard (fifth) beating out Simona Kubova (seventh).

Men’s 100 Backstroke

After scoring a win in the 200 back Saturday and finishing second in the 50 back to Ryan Murphy, Energy Standard’s Evgeny Rylov won his second event of the weekend in the 100 back. He went out in 23.54, more than three tenths ahead of the field and just over world-record pace. But then, Cali Condors’ Coleman Stewart closed hard and nearly caught Rylov. In the end, Rylov touched in 48.94, while Stewart finished in 49.13, well off his world record of 48.33 but faster than he had swum over the course of the entire playoffs.

Murphy, meanwhile, ended up third in 49.67, while no other swimmer broke 50 seconds.

Women’s 100 IM

Sarah Sjostrom is likely to be the MVP of this ISL season for Energy Standard, and she swam a gutty race to pick up big points for her team in the 100 IM. Cali Condors’ Beata Nelson had the lead with 25 meters to go, and she extended the lead slightly with her incredible underwaters off the final turn, but Sjostrom would not give up. She clawed ahead of Nelson and touched in 57.46, 0.26 ahead of Nelson

Nelson, meanwhile, finished in 57.72 to break her own American record of 57.90. Third went to LA Current’s Anastasia Gorbenko in 57.97, three tenths of Energy Standard’s Anastasiya Skurdai.

Men’s 100 IM

Caeleb Dressel has swum a limited program of events in the ISL final, and he skipped the 100 free earlier in the session. but he would not be denied in the 100 IM. Dressel went out fast on the fly, and even after Kliment Kolesnikov almost caught him on backstroke, Dressel built up the lead on breaststroke and annihilated the field on the final 25 of freestyle.

Dressel finished in 50.74, just off his own mark of 50.68 from the regular season as the top time in the ISL this season, but he remained the only swimmer to break 51 all year. Kolesnikov, meanwhile, finished second in 51.62, eight tenths behind Dressel but enough to limit the damage for Energy Standard, who still leads by 15 points at the first break.

LA Current finished third and fourth with Javier Acevedo (51.76) and Brett Pinfold (52.04), while London’s Duncan Scott (52.06) settled for fifth.

Women’s 100 Breaststroke

If the Cali Condors go on to win the ISL title, they will be able to look back on the women’s 100 breast as a pivotal turning point. Condors star Lilly King led by four tenths at the halfway point, but 50 breast winner Alia Atkinson closed the gap on the third length and turned dead even with King at the final turn. Atkinson looked to be opening up a lead, but then King surged into the finish to touch in 1:03.75, a tenth ahead of her rival from Jamaica.

London’s Atkinson placed second in 1:03.85, while Cali’s Molly Hannis was well back in third at 1:05.01. Energy Standard’s Evgeniia Chikunova and Benedetta Pilato finished fourth and seventh, respectively, and Cali closed the gap to just six points.

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

The king of breaststroke over the course of this ISL season has been Ilya Shymanovich, who set the world record of 55.28 his final tune-up for the ISL final. But during day one of the final, Energy Standard’s Nic Fink upset Shymanovich twice, first in the 200 breast and then in the 50 breast. Then, in their final showdown Saturday, Fink was two tenths down at the halfway point, 25.92 to 26.13, but then he pulled dead-even on the third length. Coming into the wall, Fink had just enough to get ahead of Shymanovich by three hundredths at the finish.

Fink touched the wall in 55.56, while Shymanovich finished in 55.59. In the process, Fink crushed his American record of 56.16 and became the third-fastest performer ever in the event behind Shymanovich and Adam Peaty.

Energy Standard’s Felipe Lima touched third in 57.55, but Cali Condors got another boost from Kevin Cordes finishing fourth in 57.55. The rest of the field was jackpotted, and because Fink got the touch over Shymanovich, so he ended up with 19 points. Combined with King’s win in the women’s 100 breast, Fink’s upset gave Cali its first lead of the day by five points over Energy.

Women’s 50 Butterfly

The Cali Condors won their third event in a row as Kelsi Dahlia upset star sprinter Sarah Sjostrom by one hundredth. Dahlia, who broke the world record in the 100 fly Friday, came in at 24.86, while Sjostrom touched in 24.87. Sjostrom has been as fast as 24.64 this season, but she was feeling fatigue after racing the 100 free and 100 IM earlier in the session. Dahlia, meanwhile, was racing for the first time in the session.

Maddy Banic finished third for Energy Standard in 25.01, while Beata Nelson was fifth for Cali, giving Cali a one-point edge in this race to slightly extend their lead. The two consecutive upset wins over Energy were huge for a Cali team still trying to fight back after Friday’s 400 medley relay DQ.

Men’s 50 Butterfly

After three straight wins for Cali, Energy Standard picked up a victory and retook the lead as Ben Proud crushed a 22.18 in the men’s 50 fly. Proud won for just the second time this season as he touched in 22.18, nine hundredths ahead of LA Current’s Tom Shields (22.27). London Roar’s Dylan Carter took third in 22.36.

Cali went 4-7 here with Jose Martinez and Jesse Puts, while Chad le Clos was fifth for Energy Standard. That helped Energy move into the lead by just one point as the meet moves into its home stretch.

Women’s 200 Freestyle

Energy Standard picked up a big win from Siobhan Haughey, the second of the day for the star from Hong Kong. Haughey had swum the second-fastest time in history with her 1:50.65 in Energy’s previous match, but she was unable to give Sarah Sjostrom’s world record of 1:50.43 a serious challenge in the final. Haughey ended up finishing in 1:51.04, crushing the field by exactly two seconds, and she secured a 15-point jackpot with the win.

London’s Freya Anderson swam an excellent race to place second in 1:54.04, while LA Current’s Madison Wilson grabbed third in 1:54.64. The Cali Condors picked up the next two spots with Katarine Savard (1:54.72) and Hali Flickinger (1:55.07), so despite Haughey’s win, Energy only grabbed a six-point advantage in this event. Cali trails by just seven points with six events to go.

Men’s 200 Freestyle

Townley Haas has not been on top form during this ISL season, but he showed up ready to race in the ISL final. After a strong second-place finish in Friday’s 400 free, he picked up his first win of the ISL season (in any event) in this 200 free. Haas held the lead at the halfway point before LA Current’s Fernando Scheffer moved ahead by one hundredth with 50 meters to go. But Haas surged to the finish and pick up a big win for the Cali Condors in 1:42.18.

Scheffer finished second, just 0.14 behind in 1:42.32, while London Roar’s Kyle Chalmers finished third in 1:42.86. With Haas’ win, Cali cut the Energy lead to just five points.

Mixed 400 Medley Relay

Desperately in need of points heading into the final few events, Energy Standard pulled off a massive effort in the mixed medley relay. The team of Evgeny Rylov (48.90), Ilya Shymanovich (55.88), Anastasiya Skurdai (55.07) and Sarah Sjostrom (51.09) won in 3:30.94, while the Cali Condors team of Coleman Stewart (49.54), Nic Fink (55.58), Kelsi Dahlia (54.97) and Erika Brown (51.85) finished one second behind. Skurdai did an outstanding job in staying close to Dahlia on the fly leg, while Sjostrom was outstanding on the anchor as she swam an outstanding final race of her MVP season.

Energy’s B-team of Kliment Kolesnikov, Felipe Lima, Maddy Banic and Femke Heemskerk finished third in  3:34.71, while LA Current took fourth in 3:35.46 after Ryan Murphy led off in 49.22. Cali’s B-team, which featured Lilly King splitting 1:03.99 on breaststroke and Caeleb Dressel at 49.69 on fly, ended up fifth.

Energy’s 1-3 finish, plus the A-team’s two-team, 24-point jackpot, helped Energy score 36 points, while Cali’s 3-5 finish left the Condors with just 20. That advantage vaulted Energy back into the lead by 19 points, the exact same margin as they had going into day two.

Women’s 400 IM

Early in her career, Energy Standard’s Mary-Sophie Harvey made a name for herself as a 400 IMer, but she has rarely swum that event this ISL season. But Harvey was inserted into the event for the final, and over the first 350 meters, she dominated. Harvey was out ahead of the field at the halfway point with a 2.4-second lead, and she held the lead on breaststroke. At that point, Energy Standard was looking excellent with for a potential 1-2 finish as Viktoriya Gunes was in second place. But over the final 100 meters, Cali Condors’ Hali Flickinger pulled off a stunning comeback to pull ahead and steal victory.

Flickinger came home in 28.58 on the final 50 meters of freestyle, almost three seconds faster than Harvey, as she pulled ahead and took the win in 4:29.92. Flickinger ended up with 16 total points as she jackpotted two swimmers. Meanwhile, Harvey’s excellent effort gave her second place in 4:30.65, and she ended up with 14 points thanks to her second-place finish and her checkpoint points from the 200-meter split. Gunes ended up taking third in 4:31.35. London’s Sydney Pickrem, the heavy pre-race favorite, ended up fifth in 4:33.87.

Cali’s Kathrin Demler ended up sixth, and that allowed Cali to slightly outscore Energy 22-20.

Men’s 400 IM

London’s Duncan Scott touched third at the 200-meter checkpoint behind teammate Luke Greenbank and Cali Condors’ Brodie Williams, but Scott took over on the breaststroke leg and then extended the lead on freestyle. Scott pulled away to win in 4:03.24.

Meanwhile, concerning the exciting team race between Energy Standard and Cali Condors, Energy’s Charlie Swanson grabbed second in 4:04.81, while Williams was third in 4:06.68 — but Williams outscored Swanson thanks to his points from the halfway checkpoint. Energy’s Travis Mahoney took fifth, and Cali’s Jose Martinez was seventh, so Energy ended up outscoring Cali by one point, 13-12.

Going into the skins, Energy holds a 491-473 lead over Cali.

Women’s 50 Backstroke Skins

London Roar’s Minna Atherton won the first round in 25.95, and also advancing to round two were Energy Standard’s Anastasia Skurdai, Cali Condors’ Maaike de Waard and LA Current’s Ingrid Wilm. Energy and Cali each got one swimmer to advance, while Energy outscored Cali by one point in that round.

Atherton won round two in 26.47, while Skurdai finished second to advance to the final — and shut out both 50 and 100 back winner Wilm and the entire Cali Condors team. That put Energy in position to extend its lead on Cali heading into the final event.

Atherton then won the final in 27.24, while Skurdai stayed within a second to secure the seven points (and not be jackpotted). So heading into the final event, Energy Standard leads 514 to 487 over Cali (27 points), so Cali will need a massive effort in the men’s skins to pull off a shocking comeback. But Energy Standard now seems poised to reclaim the title first won in 2019.

Men’s 50 Butterfly Skins

Energy Standard secured the 2021 league title as Ben Proud won the first round in 22.30, with LA Current’s Tom Shields, Cali Condors’ Caeleb Dressel and Energy Standard’s Adam Barrett also advancing. Barrett finished fourth by just four hundreths over London’s Dylan Carter, and with Energy Standard advancing both swimmers, there’s no mathematical path for Cali to make the comeback.

Dressel won round two in 22.77, and Shields joined him in the final. But even with both Energy Standard swimmers missing out on the final, there was no way for Dressel to score enough points to make up the difference for Cali. Dressel ended up finishing in 23.05 to defeat Shields in the last race.

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2 years ago

The Condors are the real winners!

2 years ago
Reply to  Swimmer4life

Agree actually. That DQ was dubious and cost a 50 point swing

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