ISL Match 2 Day 1 Notes: Who’s Missing, and Who’s Stepping Up

Adam Peaty London Roar International Swim League by Mike Lewis D5D_7522
London Roar's Adam Peaty; Photo Courtesy: Mike Lewis/ISL

The comment from Rowdy Gaines, just after the 200 backstrokes at ISL Match 2, couldn’t have been more spot on. “We’re not knowledgeable about where everyone sits,” the commentator said, just after assumed favorite Katinka Hosszu was upset in the 200 back, fading to a distant fifth place.

With the rash of rookies in the lineups for DC Trident, London Roar, Aqua Centurions and Team Iron, a product of the year’s COVID-19 shutdowns and withdrawals by individuals and federations, it shouldn’t have been a shock. But seeing swimmers like Hosszu come up empty in two individual events, or Adam Peaty pipped to the wall in the 50 breaststroke, is a reminder of how far we are from quite understanding where everyone stands in terms of their fitness and racing strength.

It was evident in the upsets to two of the International Swimming League’s most bankable stars. It showed in races that were up for grabs until nearly the end – three men within .12 in the 200 back after 150 meters; five swimmers bunched up as the 100 butterfly turned for home.

There was some predictability with London Roar comfortably ahead after Day 1 with 294 points. Aqua Centurions are second with 197, Team Iron third with 194 and DC Trident last with 181.

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LIVE RESULTS

Notes from Day 1 of ISL Match 2:

Not missing who’s missing

What would the London Roar look like without its Australian contingent? Just fine, thanks very much. Even with Peaty’s upset, they are comfortably ahead after Day 1. As winners of both medley relays, they have control of the skins stroke choice and a few cards to play. (Not only winners, but they went 1-3 in the men’s and 1-4 in the women’s to bolster point totals.)

Aqua Centurions, on the other hand, seem more affected by the absence of their Italian swimming spine, most obviously Federica Pellegrini. They surged late to get into second place, thanks in large part to a strong men’s contingent, with wins by Philip Heintz in the 200 IM and the 400 free relay to augment Szebasztian Szabo’s early 100 fly victory.

Speaking of missing swimmers …

Oh say, can DC

The Trident entered ISL Match 2 sans Natalie Coughlin, sans Siobhan Haughey, sans Katie Ledecky, sans Cody Miller and several Australians. It was fair to wonder what, if anything, they had left.

Early on, they seemed not to miss much, highlighted by Amy Bilquist’s upset win in the 200 back.

“I just wanted to get out, make a statement for DC that we’re here to play,” a beaming Bilquist said on the broadcast. “… I like to be a gameplayer. I think most of us are racers. It’s really fun to come out here.”

DC’s strength in back and breast, with big points from Jacob Pebley, Bilquist and 50 back winner Linnea Mack in the former. Bethany Galat took second in the women’s 200 breast, the men finished second in the 400 free relay thanks to Zach Apple’s 45.15 anchor split and they got a win via Zane Grothe’s great comeback in the 400 free. But they finished Day 1 in fourth place, lacking the top-end talent to get wins and access the jackpot points.

New names to know

An unsung star for the Roar was Christian Diener, who won the 50 back and 200 back. In the later, he pulled away late from Pebley, the on-paper favorite, and teammate Luke Greenbank. It ended up a 1-3 finish with Greenback. In the 50 back, he went 1-2 with Guilherme Guido, the ninth-fastest time in history, to garner 26 points.

The upset of Peaty was pulled by Iron’s Emre Sakci, the Turkish swimmer delivering a 25.74, a top-10 time in history. The 400 free went to AC’s Valentine Dumont, the 20-year-old Belgian negative-splitting to go 4:00.37. Canadian Bailey Andison jumped into the mix in the 200 IM for DC, finishing second between London’s Sydney Pickrem and Iron’s Hosszu.

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