ISL Match 10, Day 1: Arianna Castiglioni Sparks Aqua Centurions Comeback, Trying to Avoid Play-In Match

Arianna Castiglioni AQC Aqua Centurions (AQC) ISL International Swimming League 2021 Match 10 day 1 Piscina Felice Scandone Napoli, Naples Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Arianna Castiglioni after winning the 50 breaststroke at ISL Match #10 -- Photo Courtesy: Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

ISL Match 10, Day 1: Arianna Castiglioni Sparks Aqua Centurions Comeback, Trying to Avoid Play-In Match

As the ISL regular season in Naples, Italy, reaches its conclusion with Match #10, the teams are still fighting to determine the last spots in the playoffs. Eight teams will advance to the next round in Eindhoven in November, and so far, the Cali Condors, Energy Standard, London Roar, Toronto Titans and LA Current have secured their spot. One more team will clinch an automatic berth, likely the winner of this match, while the other three join DC Trident in a play-in match, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday (Sept. 29-30).

After day one of Match #10, the Aqua Centurions look poised to earn that automatic spot as they lead Team Iron by 59 points. Iron led early on, but a string of four wins from Nicolo Martinenghi in the men’s 50 breast, Arianna Castiglioni in the women’s 50 breast, the Aqua Centurions’ men’s 400 medley relay and Elena di Liddo in the women’s 50 back placed Aqua into a lead it would not relinquish. Aqua then won both medley relays to cap off the day, with Castiglioni dropping the hammer on breaststroke in the women’s race and the men’s teams finishing 1-2.

Di Liddo actually won two events on the day as she opened with a win in the 100 fly, and both Castiglioni and New York Breakers’ Brendon Smith recorded the top times of the season in their respective events. Castiglioni moved ahead of Lilly King in the women’s 50 breast, and Smith topped Duncan Scott’s best mark in the 400 free.

Elsewhere, Iron’s Barbora Seemanova was impressive with a touch-out win over Tokyo’s Paige Madden in the women’s 400 free, and while Iron’s Erik Persson topped Tokyo’s Daiya Seto in the men’s 200 breast, Seto came back to earn his fourth win of the season in the 200 IM.

Team Scores Through Day 1:

  1. Aqua Centurions 306.5
  2. Iron 247.5
  3. Tokyo Frog Kings 206
  4. New York Breakers 146


Women’s 100 Butterfly

The Aqua Centurions jumped out to a quick start as Elena di Liddo came from behind on the back half of the 100 fly to overtake Tokyo’s Aly Tetzloff. Di Liddo finished in 56.28, about three tenths ahead of Tetzloff (56.56) and New York’s Svetlana Chimrova (56.60). This group was not able to approach the 55s that Kelsi Dahlia, Louise Hansson and Emma McKeon have been able to record this season, and no other swimmer was able to crack 56 seconds.

Men’s 100 Butterfly

Matteo Rivolta was the only swimmer to break 50 seconds in this field as the Aqua Centurions finished on top for the second event to begin this match. Rivolta swam a time of 49.77 to beat Tokyo’s Takeshi Kawamoto, better known for his abilities in the 50-meter events, by three tenths. Kawamoto swam a 50.07.

Aqua Centurions’ Thomas Ceccon, competing outside of his typical backstroke and freestyle events, placed third in 50.56, leaving New York’s Matt Temple in fourth (50.61). Temple is the sixth-fastest swimmer in the ISL this season at 49.79, but he was well off that form in this match.

Women’s 200 Backstroke

Iron’s Ingeborg Loyning led wire-to-wire in the eight-lap backstroke race, but she needed every drop of her advantage to hold off Tokyo’s Gabby DeLoof on the last 50 meters. Loyning cut a whopping two seconds from her season-best mark as she won in 2:03.67, and DeLoof was right behind with her time of 2:03.76. That duo moved to seventh and eighth-fastest, respectively, in the ISL this season.

New York Breakers’ Darya Zevina placed third in 2:04.38, while Aqua Centurions’ Federica Pellegrini kicked off her meet with a seventh-place time of 2:05.91. It is unclear if the Italian legend will compete following the Naples-based regular season, and the Centurions could be done for the regular season after this match should they win and qualify automatically for the playoffs. That means this match could be the final competition of Pellegrini’s illustrious career.

Men’s 200 Backstroke

Tokyo got a victory in the 200 back as Grigory Tarasevich swam to a time of 1:50.79, enough to hold off Iron’s Lorenzo Mora (1:51.01). Tarasevich matched his season-best time as he won for the second time this year, following a win in Match #2 a few weeks ago.

Iron finished 2-3 here as Robert Glinta took third in 1:51.96, just ahead of Tokyo’s Richard Bohus (1:52.01).

Women’s 200 Breaststroke

In an extremely tight four-swimmer battle, New York’s Molly Renshaw came out barely on top of Iron’s Jenna Strauch, fellow NY Breaker Abbie Wood and Aqua Centurions’ Martina Carraro. Strauch led with 50 meters to go before Renshaw finished in 36.20 for a final time of 2:19.77, earning her first win this ISL season. Strauch was just 0.17 behind with her 2:19.94, and Wood swam a 2:20.02 for third. Carraro was fourth in 2:20.63, just six tenths away from the top three.

Men’s 200 Breaststroke

Tokyo’s Daiya Seto was aiming for his third win this season in the 200 breast, an event in which he has made some unexpected inroads this season, and he had the lead with 50 meters to go, but he could not hold off Iron’s Erik Persson on the last 50. Persson, an Olympic finalist in this event in July for Sweden, closed hard and won in 2:02.39. That was the second-fastest mark recorded so far this season behind Ilya Shymanovich’s 2:02.10.

Seto took second in 2:02.48, his best time this season, and Aqua Centurions’ Arno Kamminga, the Olympic silver medalist in the event, claimed third in 2:02.96.

Women’s 400 Freestyle Relay

In an incredibly tight finish, Team Iron barely held off the Tokyo Frog Kings and charging anchor swimmer Mallory Comerford to win the meet’s first relay. Iron’s Ranomi Kromowidjojo (52.04), Barbora Seemanova (51.90), Veronika Andusenko (53.48) and Costanza Cocconcelli (52.79) combined to swim a 3:30.21, just two hundredths ahead of Tokyo’s Catie DeLoofChihiro IgarashiJulie Meynen and Comerford (3:30.23). Comerford anchored in 51.92, the second-quickest split in the race behind Seemanova.

Aqua Centurions’ quartet of Holly BarrattMariia KamenevaLidon Munoz del Campo and Federica Pellegrini placed third, the group’s time of 3:30.82 only six tenths away from the top two groups.

Men’s 50 Freestyle

Aqua Centurions’ Sebasztian Szabo got the better of the field in the men’s 50 free by 0.15. He came in at 21.13 for his first 50 free win this season after he previously won the 50 fly in Match #6 two weeks ago. New York Breakers’ Stan Pijnenburg placed second in 21.28, just ahead of Iron teammates Marco Orsi (21.30) and Thom de Boer (21.36).

Women’s 50 Freestyle

Tokyo Frog Kings’ Gabby DeLoof scored a major upset in the women’s 50 free over Iron’s Ranomi Kromowidjojo, the 2012 Olympic champion in the event who was aiming for her first win this ISL season. DeLoof actually touched out Aqua’s Mariia Kameneva by one hundredth for the win, 24.19 to 24.20, and Kromowidjojo was a further two hundredths behind Kameneva (24.22) to take third.

This race marked the first time this regular season that no swimmer broke 23 in the event.

Men’s 200 IM

Tokyo Frog Kings’ Daiya Seto finished his four regular season matches undefeated in the 200 IM, and while he was unable to approach his top-ranked time this season, the 1:51.12 he swam in his duel with Caeleb Dressel in Match #6, he did plenty to win. His 1:52.59 gave him almost a second advantage over runner-up Philip Heintz of the New York Breakers (1:53.58). Third place went to Aqua Centurions’ Chase Kalisz in 1:53.69.

Women’s 200 IM

New York Breakers’ Abbie Wood already had three wins in the 200 IM in three tries this season, and she was aiming for a fourth in a showdown with Tokyo Frog Kings’ Yui Ohashi. Wood led by seven tenths at the halfway point and six tenths with 50 meters to go, but Ohashi, the Olympic gold medalist in both IM events, closed in 29.82 to catch up to her British rival — and the two finished in a dead heat. Wood and Ohashi swam equal times of 2:05.45 for the win, and they split first and second-place points among New York and Tokyo.

Iron’s Maria Ugolkova finished more than two seconds back in third place at 2:07.66.

Men’s 50 Breaststroke

At this point in the competition, Iron held a comfortable lead, but the Aqua Centurions began a run of their own with a huge performance in the 50 breast. Nicolo Martinenghi, the second-fastest swimmer in the league this season, won for the Centurions in 25.89, and Fabio Scozzoli took third in 26.08. Tokyo’s Alessandro Pinzuti broke up the 1-2 by touching one hundredth ahead of Scozzoli in 26.07, while fellow Frog King Yasuhiro Koeski finished a close fourth in 26.16.

Women’s 50 Breaststroke

Following Martinenghi’s win in the men’s 50 breast, the Centurions kept piling it on in the women’s event as Arianna Castiglioni dominated and teammate Martina Carraro placed second. Castiglioni swam a time of 29.09, dethroning Lilly King as the fastest swimmer in the league so far this season, and Carraro finished second in 29.73, a tenth ahead of Iron’s Ida Hulkko (29.84).

Men’s 400 Freestyle Relay

Make it three wins in a row for the Aqua Centurions, this one with double points courtesy of the relay. The group of Alessandro Miressi (46.71), Sebasztian Szabo (46.79), Thomas Ceccon (46.45) and Vladislav Grinev (46.42) finished in 3:06.37, holding off a charging Matt Temple of the New York Breakers by three tenths. Jacob WhittleStan PijnenburgJakub Kraska and Temple took second in 3:06.67 as Temple anchored in 46.14, matching Tokyo anchor Nemeth Nandor as the top splits in the field.

Nandor brought the Frog Kings home to a third-place finish in 3:07.14, along with Ivan GirevChristian Quintero and Pedro Spajari.

Women’s 50 Backstroke

The Aqua Centurions cannot be stopped. The group opened up the final stretch of racing in the session with Elena di Liddo touching out Iron’s Ingeborg Loyning by eight hundredths to win the 50 back, 26.39 to 26.47. Di Liddo was previously victorious in the 100 fly earlier in the session while Loyning had won the 200 back. Aqua Centurions actually got points for first and third as Holly Barratt finished in 26.50 to edge out a tie between New York’s Alicja Tchorz and Iron’s Melanie Henique (26.53).

Men’s 50 Backstroke

Iron’s early match lead was long gone by this point, but they jumped back onto the board with a 1-2 finish in a tight 50 back where the entire field was separated by just 0.52. Guilherme Basseto captured first place for Iron in 23.22, and teammate Robert Glinta edged out Aqua Centurions’ Matteo Rivolta for second, 23.38 to 23.42.

The Tokyo Frog Kings duo of Takeshi Kawamoto (23.50) and Grigory Tarasevich (23.56) just missed the top three.

Women’s 400 Freestyle

Swimming in lanes four and five, respectively, Iron’s Barbora Seemanova and Tokyo’s Paige Madden went head-to-head in one of the best races of the day. After claiming top honors at the 100-meter checkpoint by 0.05 over Madden (56.56 to 56.61), Seemanova led at every split except for the 350-meter mark, when Madden went up by three hundredths, but she could never get clear of the American until she pulled away over the last 25 meters.

Seemanova finished in 4:02.09, and Madden came in second at 4:02.40. Meanwhile, Iron’s Veronika Andrusenko closed the race well to move up to third, stopping the clock 4:03.50, and she finished more than two seconds ahead of the remaining swimmers.

Men’s 400 Freestyle

Following wins in Matches 2, 3 and 7, Brendon Smith of the New York Breakers became a four-time undefeated winner of the men’s 400 free. He was well behind the field early, in sixth place and earning no additional points at the 100-meter checkpoint as Iron’s Leonardo Santos went out fast and flipped first, but Smith kept a very impressive and consistent pace over the next several splits and eventually took over the lead at the 300-meter mark.

Smith recorded a time of 3:39.20, edging Duncan Scott’s 3:39.52 from Match #8 as the ISL’s top mark this season. With New York almost certain to be eliminated in the play-in match later this week, Smith will have only one more chance at this race before the playoffs go on without him.

Meanwhile, Smith scored 11 points for his win, including a jackpot of Santos where he stole away Santos’ checkpoint points, but Aqua Centurions’ Matteo Ciampi scored 13 by finishing second (3:42.02) after flipping second behind Santos at the 100-meter wall. Aqua ended up finishing 2-3 here as Ilya Borodin came in at 3:42.64 to edge out Iron’s Luis Altamir Melo (3:42.99).

Women’s 400 Medley Relay

The Aqua Centurions scored a relay win and the chance to select the stroke for Sunday’s skins race as Arianna Castiglioni out-split the field by more than a second on the breaststroke leg to give Aqua a huge edge. The team of Mariia Kameneva (57.16), Castiglioni (1:03.28), Elena di Liddo (56.56) and Federica Pellgrini won the race in 3:49.11, about a second ahead of Iron’s Ingeborg Loyning (57.15), Ida Hulkko (1:05.07), Emilie Beckmann (56.02) and Ranomi Kromowidjojo (51.91) in 3:50.15.

New York Breakers finished third in 3:52.62 with Alicja TchorzMolly RenshawSvetlana Chimrova and Marrit Steenbergen.

Castiglioni’s breaststroke split was so far ahead of the field that the only other to crack 1:05 was Martina Carraro, who was 1:04.52 for Aqua’s fifth-place B-team. Meanwhile, Barbora Seemanova continued her magnificent day, returning after her 400 free victory to anchor for Iron in 51.39, but that left Iron just seven hundredths behind New York for third.

Men’s 400 Medley Relay

To conclude day one’s action, Aqua Centurions put a bow on a remarkable back half to the session with 400 medley relay domination. The group of Thomas Ceccon (50.73), Nicolo Martinenghi (56.32), Matteo Rivolta (50.24) and Alessandro Miressi (46.22) combined to put up a 3:23.51, and the closest squad to this foursome was Aqua’s B-team: Simone Sabbioni (50.71), Arno Kamminga (56.24), Sebasztian Szabo (50.40) and Vladislav Grinev (46.81) combining for a 3:24.16. That 1-2 finish propelled Aqua to a 59-point lead entering the second day of the meet.

Tokyo Frog Kings’ group of Grigory TarasevichYasuhiro KosekiTakeshi Kawamoto and Nemeth Nandor took third in 3:24.32, with Nandor swimming away from Iron anchor Matt Richards to put the Frog Kings into third place and make a run at second.