ISL Grand Final: Relay DQ Leads to 44-Point Swing in Energy Standard’s Favor

Lilly King; Photo Courtesy: Mike Lewis/ISL

ISL Grand Final: Relay DQ Leads to 44-Point Swing in Energy Standard’s Favor

Relays are, as is often shouted over the EDM on International Swimming League broadcasts, quite pivotal in the team standings. Usually, the Cali Condors show that in a proactive sense. On Day 1 of the ISL Grand Final Friday, the illustration was slightly more destructive.

When all is said in done at the conclusion of Season 3, it might be the women’s medley relay that decides the fate of the title, thanks to the Condors disqualification.

The team of Beata Nelson, Lilly King, Kelsi Dahlia and Erika Brown appeared to touch first in 3:46.79. That would’ve been the second-fastest time in the ISL this season and just about 1.5 seconds ahead of Energy Standard. Instead, due to what was ruled a non-simultaneous touch on the 75-meter breaststroke wall by King, the Condors’ points and the chance to choose skins were wiped out.

All told, it was a 44-point swing, sending Energy into its stronger second day with a 21-point edge, 271-250. Energy Standard’s foursome of Mary-Sophie Harvey, Evgenia Chikunova, Anastasiya Shkurdai and Sarah Sjostrom got the win in 3:48.11.

First King, who’s been in this predicament before. She was disqualified in prelims at the 2019 World Championships, a high-profile miss that she later admitted was the right call. She’s often responded well to such adversity.

Otherwise, she swam well Friday. King won the 200 breast in 2:17.06, coasting to a 1-2 with Emily Escobedo that yielded the Condors 12 points. She was second to London’s Alia Atkinson in the 50 breast, though King and Molly Hannis nearly stalemated the event with 11 points to Atkinson’s mini-jackpot of 12.

But the first day is the big day of ISL meets for King. Day 2 of the ISL Grand Final bring just the 100 breast. She’s less valuable in the mixed medley relay since, as the U.S. has learned, female breaststrokers aren’t the right move. That means potentially one swim Saturday unless she sneaks into an off event. (As a breaststroker, it’s not like she can even steal early checkpoint points in the 400 IM.)

The skins ramifications are probably a wash. With control, Cali would’ve preferred butterfly to set up a Dahlia-Sarah Sjostrom showdown to end the ISL Grand Final. Dahlia has won fly skins four times this year. Maike de Waard has a backstroke skins win, and Beata Nelson is an option there. King will go the entire season without swimming skins: It was chosen just twice all year, in meets that didn’t feature the Condors.

But the points are where it’s really at. After the men’s 400 freestyle, Cali led with 220 points to 211 for Energy Standard. A non-calamitous finish would’ve seen them lead after Day 1, a valuable bulwark for Day 2, when it seems that Sjostrom and Siobhan Haughey are in the water every five minutes for Energy Standard.

When Brown touched and it looked like the Condors had the win, they stood to grab 18 points, plus six via the jackpot and 10 for the B team finishing fourth. That would’ve been 34 points to 20 for Energy Standard. Instead, Standard picked up 30 points for winning (18 plus 12 jackpot) plus eight in with a fifth-place B squad. The Condors salvage 12 points from the B relay but loss four for the DQ.

So from 34-20 up to 38-8 down – a 44-point swing determined by whatever sliver of space separated King’s touching

It’s a huge boost for Energy Standard in what has been its weakest – that’s a very relative term – women’s relay. Where the 400 free relay has won six times this year, the medley had only won once before. (It’s six wins for the men’s medley and mixed medley, too, and back swims likely means Sjostrom and Haughey will bring home the A mixed medley squad Saturday.)

In the final championship reckoning, that one touch will certainly loom large.

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