ISL Match 4, Day 2: Caeleb Dressel Wins Four Events, Kelsi Dahlia Takes Two as Cali Condors Pull Away

Caeleb Dressel (photo: Mike Lewis)
Caeleb Dressel competing for the Cali Condors during the 2021 ISL season -- Photo Courtesy: Mike Lewis/ISL

ISL Match 4, Day 2: Caeleb Dressel Wins Four Events, Kelsi Dahlia Takes Two as Cali Condors Pull Away

The Cali Condors have been mostly untouchable in International Swimming League (ISL) competition over the last year, but in Match #4 of this year’s regular season, held entirely in Naples, Italy, the LA Current have been a formidable opponent. On day one, Cali opened up a big lead and then could only watch as LA inched back into the competition and took the lead after the 400 freestyles. Cali then won both medley relays to surge back in front, but the advantage was only 24 points heading into day two.

Sunday’s action saw the Current hang around for a while, particularly as Abbey Weitzeil won the 100 free and Tom Shields took first in the 200 fly, but the superstars from Cali were soon too much for any other team to keep pace. Caeleb Dressel won all four of his events, including the 100 free, 100 IM and 50 fly individually and then the 50 freestyle skins. Meanwhile, Kelsi Dahlia dominated the women’s 200 fly and later on butterfly skins, and those wins plus jackpots and triumphs by Lilly KingBeata Nelson and Coleman Stewart helped Cali multiply its lead.

Meanwhile, the team battle for third was exciting as well, as DC Trident moved ahead of Aqua Centurions with a jackpot win in the women’s 400 IM before Aqua came right back with a 1-2 in the men’s 400 IM.

The day’s short course meters racing program featured 16 individual events plus one mixed-gender relay and then the 50-meter skins, a three-race elimination series with athletes allowed three minutes of rest between each.

Final Team Scores

  • Cali Condors 594
  • LA Current 444.5
  • Aqua Centurions 375.5
  • DC Trident 359

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Women’s 100 Freestyle

Abbey Weitzeil nabbed a win in the first event of the day as she took the 100 free victory in 51.62. Weitzeil of the LA Current has been consistently on top in the sprint events over her first two matches of the regular season, and this time, she helped put up a huge performance for the Current as teammate Madison Wilson closed in 26.45 to nearly catch Weitzeil and end up taking second in 51.68. Weitzeil jackpotted the last two finishers in the heat, and that meant 19 total points for LA, narrowing the Cali Condors’ lead in the team competition. Anna Hopkin of the DC Trident placed third in 52.06.

Weitzeil holds the American record and ranks ninth all-time in this event at 51.26, so she was less than a half-second off in her first race of day two.

Men’s 100 Freestyle

Caeleb Dressel of the Cali Condors earned his second 100 free victory of the season in as many starts, and he won this race by almost a second over runner-up Alessandro Miressi of the Aqua Centurions, 45.47 to 46.45. Dressel also jackpotted two swimmers and improved upon the 45.94 he swam in his first match last week. Dressel is ranked tied for fourth all-time in the 100 free and he holds the American record at 45.08, so we’ll see if this will be the year that he can take down the world record, Amaury Leveaux’s 44.94 from back in 2008.

Following Dressel and Miressi, DC Trident’s Zach Apple took third in 46.83, barely edging out Aqua Centurions’ Thomas Ceccon (46.92), DC Trident’s Aleksandr Shchegolev (46.93) and LA Current’s Maxime Rooney (46.96).

Women’s 200 Butterfly

The Cali Condors won their second straight event as Kelsi Dahlia dominated the women’s 200 fly. She went out hard and never gave anyone else in a strong field a chance to catch her, and she actually had the top split on every 50 except for the last one, when Aqua Centurions’ Alessia Polieri closed hard to finish second, but she was still two seconds behind Dahlia. Dahlia swam a 2:03.95, two seconds off her American record of 2:01.73 that ranks fourth all-time in the event, but she said in an ISL post-race interview with Mark Foster that she was thrilled with the effort. Polieri was second in 2:05.95, and DC Trident’s Klaudia Nazieblo also had a nice finish to move up to third in 2:07.70.

Men’s 200 Butterfly

Tom Shields has always been a masterful performer in the short course 200 butterfly because of his sensational underwater dolphin kicks, and he put that skill on full display to win this one for the LA Current. Shields was up by more than a half-second at the 100-meter mark, and although he faded considerably down the stretch — his last 50 split was 29.52, compared to 28.45 on the third 50 — he had enough to hold on and win in 1:50.24. Finishing a little more than a second back was DC Trident’s Andreas Vazaios, who won the 200 IM Saturday, in 1:51.35, and Shields’ Current teammate Tomoe Hvas claimed third in 1:51.50. Shields jackpotted the last two swimmers in the race to pull LA within five points of the lead.

Women’s 100 Backstroke

In a bit of an upset, the LA Current won another event as Ingrid Wilm closed four tenths quicker than anyone else in the field over the final 50 meters to grab the 100 back win in 55.94. That was almost three tenths ahead of DC Trident’s Ali DeLoof, who placed second in 56.22, and the Cali Condors’ Olivia Smoliga, who just arrived in Naples and is competing in her first match of the season, placed third in 56.46.

Men’s 100 Backstroke

One week after he set a world record in the men’s 100 back, the Cali Condors’ Coleman Stewart was more than a second off that incredible 48.33, but that did not matter as he still dominated the field and jackpotted two swimmers. Stewart touched in 49.38, exactly one second ahead of Cali teammate Justin Ress (50.38) as the Condors picked up some big points in their tight team battle. DC Trident’s Mark Nikolaev placed third in 50.46.

Women’s 100 IM

The Cali Condors’ Beata Nelson had the lead at the halfway point of her 100 IM but fell behind on breaststroke before using her powerful underwater dolphin kicks out to almost 15 meters and surging back ahead of the field. Nelson touched in 58.02, 0.03 quicker than her Match #2 winning time as she again chose to pass on the 100 back to focus on the 200 IM. The Condors got the win with Nelson, but the LA Current matched the Condors’ point total (13) as Anastasia Gorbenko (58.25) and

Men’s 100 IM

There was no question that world-record holder Caeleb Dressel would dominate the men’s 100 IM, even though he would be competing just 30 minutes after his 100 free. He was well off his top mark of 49.28 from last year, but he still bested the field by 1.41 seconds with his 50.68 performance. Dressel jackpotted half the field, which was impressive but not quite as good as his six-swimmer jackpot in last week’s match. Aqua Centurions’ Thomas Ceccon was the second-place finisher in 52.09, and DC Trident’s Andreas Vazaois got his second top-three of the day when he touched in 52.31 for third.

Women’s 100 Breaststroke

Lilly King has won the 100 breast in all 11 of her previous ISL appearances, and she got the job done again in Match #4, but the Aqua Centurions’ Arianna Castiglioni almost knocked off the Cali Condors star. King swam a 1:03.57, about a second off her American record of 1:02.50, and Castiglioni was almost a half-second behind her at the finish (1:04.04), but Castiglioni turned almost dead even with King at the final turn. King reasserted herself on the last 25, but Castiglioni might still have been closer to the American if not for a poor finish. Meanwhile, Cali Condors’ Molly Hannis was third in 1:04.39 as the Condors grabbed 18 points to extend their lead over the LA Current. King actually jackpotted both LA Current swimmers here to further her team’s cause.

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

This one came down to two Aqua Centurions swimmers, Arno Kamminga and Nicolo Martinenghi, both of whom were on the Olympic podium in the long course version of this event in July, and the Cali Condors’ Nic Fink. Kamminga was first at the halfway point in 26.74, with Martinenghi and Fink tied and 0.01 behind. Kamminga fell off slightly, but Martinenghi and Fink went head to head the entire way, and the Italian ended up barely out-touching the American, 56.85 to 56.86. Kamminga grabbed third in 57.12.

Women’s 50 Butterfly

The Cali Condors’ Kelsi Dahlia sat out the 50 fly after winning both the 100 fly and 200 fly previously, leaving Beata Nelson and Erika Brown to race for Cali. So this one was wide open, and in a tight finish, the Aqua Centurions’ Holly Barratt touched out Nelson by 0.11, 25.40 to 25.51, while LA Current’s Helena Gasson placed a further nine hundredths back in third at 25.60. For comparison, Dahlia was quicker in winning Match #2 last week in 25.23.

Men’s 50 Butterfly

Caeleb Dressel is five-for-five this weekend in Naples, but he looked like he might end up on the losing end of this 50 fly. Off the turn, 200 fly winner Tom Shields of the LA Current came up ahead of Dressel and was in position to steal the win, but Dressel closed and then got the better of Shields on the finish. Dressel touched in 22.23, 0.09 ahead of Shields in 22.32. Dressel was able to finish the meet perfect here after the Tokyo Frog Kings’ Takeshi Kawamoto edged him out to win the 50 fly in Match #2. Meanwhile, Aqua Centurions’ Szebasztian Szabo was not far back in third at 22.44.

Women’s 200 Freestyle

Italian legend Federica Pellegrini has stated that this ISL regular season, completely held in Naples, will be her swansong in swimming, and the 33-year-old from the Aqua Centurions provided a thrill for her home country crowd in the 200 free — but she just missed out on finishing the incredible effort with a victory. Pellegrini led the whole way and was six tenths up at the last turn, but LA Current’s Madison Wilson was always going to be coming on hard after she stole the 400 free victory Saturday with an incredible final split. In the 200 free, Wilson did the same thing, splitting 28.14 to Pellegrini’s 28.85 on the way home, and Wilson got in 0.11 ahead, 1:53.75 to 1:53.86.

DC Trident’s Leah Neale grabbed third in 1:55.10, and her teammate Joanna Evans was fourth in 1:56.37. The Trident are battling with Centurions for third, so Neale and Evans contributed 11 big points.

Men’s 200 Freestyle

The LA Current had started to lose ground in the team competition over the previous several races, but after Wilson’s big victory in the 200 free, they got a 1-2 finish out of Martin Malyutin and Fernando Scheffer as they begin one last push to try to catch the Cali Condors and pull a huge upset in the team competition. Malyutin swam a 1:42.33, and Scheffer was second in 1:42.62. The duo had finished 1-2 in reverse order in Match #2 last week, with Malyutin actually going a full second quicker today. Behind the Current duo, DC Trident finished 3-4 for the second straight event with Aleksandr Shchegolev (1:43.11) and Zane Grothe (1:43.95).

Mixed 400 Medley Relay

Prior to the mixed medley relay, the Cali Condors made a lineup change, subbing out superstar Caeleb Dressel. Certainly, Cali’s best relay would have involved Dressel on the butterfly (or possibly freestyle) leg, but head coach Jeff Julian and co. chose to sit Dressel out after his three individual events and freestyle skins still to come. It may not matter with the Condors having opened up their lead, but Cali was not able to keep up in the mixed medley relay. Ingrid Wilm, the 100 back winner, led off in 55.98, and Christopher Rothbauer split 57.94 on breaststroke. But it was Tom Shields that propelled LA into the lead with his 48.54 split, and then Abbey Weitzeil secured the victory by anchoring in 51.35, almost a second quicker than any other female freestyler.

The Aqua Centurions’ Thomas CecconNicolo MartinenghiElena di Liddo and Mariia Kameneva placed second in 3:36,14, and third went to Cali Condors’ Sherridon DresselNic FinkAngel Martinez and Marie Pietruschka in 3:36.46. The other Cali squad saw Coleman Stewart lead off in 49.56 and Lilly King split 1:03.13, but Marcin Cieslak and Olivia Smoliga were not able to keep pace with the field, and that group ended up fifth.

Women’s 400 IM

The Cali Condors have likely secured the victory in this match over the impressive LA Current, but the remaining drama involves the battle for third between the Aqua Centurions and DC Trident. But in the women’s 400 IM, the Trident got a massive 35-point swing while the Centurions ended up with zero, moving DC very quickly into third place. The primary force here was Bailey Andison, who crept up to sit in second at the halfway point and then crush the field on the breaststroke and freestyle. That allowed Andison to swim a 4:26.31, and that clinched the victory by more than five seconds. Moreover, Andison jackpotted four swimmers, including teammate Zsuzsanna Jakobos, who captured the maximum six points at the 200-meter checkpoint.

The second-place finisher here was Beata Nelson of the Cali Condors, who made a rare 400 IM appearance and ended up finishing second in 4:31.97. Nelson already has two wins at this meet in the 200 back and 100 IM, and she was second earlier in the day in the 50 fly. LA Current’s Sara Franceschi placed third in 4:34.33.

Men’s 400 IM

Back and forth we go. One race after DC Trident’s huge jackpot win in the women’s 400 IM to move ahead of the Aqua Centurions, Aqua fired back in the men’s race with a 1-2 finish and 24-point effort, compared to just seven points for DC. The winner was teenager Ilya Borodin, who became the first swimmer under 4:00 this season in the event with his 3:59.57, while teammate and Olympic gold medalist Chase Kalisz claimed second in 4:03.65. Meanwhile, the LA Current went 3-4 with Tomoe Hvas (4:04.41) and Abrahm DeVine (4:07.20), with both swimmers claiming additional points thanks to their 200-meter checkpoint finishes.

The result here moved Aqua Centurions back into third place, 7.5 points ahead of DC Trident entering the skins.

Women’s 50 Butterfly Skins

Kelsi Dahlia was a dominant force in the 50 fly skins as she scored an incredible 55 points over her three races. Beryl Gastadello actually had the top time of the event and of the entire meet as she swam a 25.27 in round one, just ahead of Dahlia in 25.38, while DC Trident’s Linnea Mack (25.41) and Aqua Centurions’ Elena di Liddo (25.50) also advancing. But then, after the requisite three-minute break, Dahlia won round two in 25.56, more than a second ahead of the other three swimmers, so she was able to jackpot that field and earn 27 points.

Mack finished second to Dahlia in round two (26.56) to advance to the final, and in that two-swimmer showdown, Dahlia won with a 25.66 while Mack swam 27.30. Once again, Mack was more than a second behind, so Dahlia got the jackpot and picked up all 21 points. So despite Mack advancing to the final, the only points she received were the six she got for placing third in round one — and DC Trident GM Kaitlin Sandeno noticed. In an on-deck interview on the ISL livestream, Sandeno suggested that it was unfair for Mack to not receive points despite beating competitors Gastadello and di Liddo.

Men’s 50 Freestyle Skins

There was a point in this match when Cali Condors’ team victory was in doubt, but they extended their advantage even before the skins. Then Dahlia dominated the women’s event before Caeleb Dressel and Justin Ress led another jackpot win in the men’s. Dressel won round 1 in 20.77, followed by LA Current’s Vladislav Bukhov (21.16), Cali Condors’ Justin Ress (21.27) and Aqua Centurions’ Alessandro Miressi (21.39). Then, in round 2, Dressel put up a 21.43 and Ress finished second in 22.17 to advance to the final, and they jackpotted the other two swimmers to score 43 in that round alone.

In the final, Cali was guaranteed to scoop up all 21 points offered. Dressel easily won in 21.79, jackpotting Ress and his 21.69 . That meant that Dressel finished Match #4 with 112.5 points to secure MVP honors.

Broadcast Information

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