ISL Grand Final: Not To Be Lost, Nic Fink Delivered in Huge Way For Cali Condors

FINK Nic CAC Cali Condors (CAC) ISL International Swimming League 2021 Match 7 day 1 Piscina Felice Scandone Napoli, Naples Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

ISL Grand Final: Not To Be Lost, Nic Fink Delivered in Huge Way For Cali Condors

The record book will always recognize Energy Standard as the 2021 champion of the International Swimming League, and the first franchise to win a pair of titles. Behind Season MVP Sarah Sjostrom, Energy Standard, the inaugural league champ, registered a 534-522 triumph over the Cali Condors, last season’s titlist. It was an epic duel that came down to the competition’s final event.

Credit for reclaiming its crown will be passed around, Sjostrom sharing recognition with the likes of Siobhan Haughey and Evgeny Rylov, among others. General Manager James Gibson has put together a superb roster, with his coaching staff – headed by Tom Rushton – demonstrating a perfect handle of the ISL scoring system.

What must not go underappreciated, though, is what Nic Fink pulled off over two days of racing to keep Cali within reach of back-to-back championships. In three breaststroke races, Fink notched a trio of victories over Energy Standard’s Ilya Shymanovich, who was as dominant as any athlete in the league during the regular season and playoffs.

Entering the Grand Final, Shymanovich boasted 16 wins in 18 races, the ledger featuring a 6-for-6 mark in the 100 breaststroke and 5-for-6 showings in the 50 breaststroke and 200 breaststroke. Twice, he broke the world record in the 100 breaststroke, so it figured the Belarussian would continue his dominance in the league’s season-ending event.

Fink had other plans.

In the opening session of the two-day meet, Fink dispatched Shymanovich in the 50 breaststroke and 200 breast, razor-thin margins getting the job done. While Fink topped Shymanovich by .03 in the 200 distance (2:02.41 to 2:02.44), .09 separated the rivals in the 50 breast (25.72 to 25.81). On Day Two, Fink set an American record in the 100 breaststroke, his effort of 55.56 edging the 55.59 of the Energy Standard side. For emphasis, Fink also out-split Shymanovich in a pair of relay matchups.

A little mathematics indicates that Fink’s three solo wins over Shymanovich came by a combined .15, that fraction of time equating to a 50-21 margin in scoring. Twice, Fink supplied jackpot points to his squad, scoring that easily could have swung in Energy’s favor and made a down-to-the-wire team battle into a comfortable decision.

The fifth-place finisher in the 200 breaststroke at last summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Fink has been one of the United States’ top breaststrokers for several years. What he managed in Eindhoven was further proof of his talent, and Fink’s ability to elevate his performances to big occasions.