ISL Match 4 Notes: Condors Flex Their Depth; Sakci, Kromowidjojo Steal Day 2

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Cali Condors Olivia Smoliga; Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu

For the second time this year, Cali Condors ended up on top, winning ISL Match 4 in emphatic fashion Tuesday. But with 610.5 points, the highest winning score in the International Swimming Leaague’s second season, the Condors sent a message.

Ahead of next week’s meeting with the London Roar, who won Match 2 with 609.5 points, the Condors are a team to be reckoned with.

The pair of victories guarantees them a spot in the ISL semifinals. It posits them as a favorite to make the league finals. It might even make them the favorite to win the league, having already topped reigning champ Energy Standard in Match 1.

That allows them to keep training hard heading into the battle with the Roar.

“I think all of us had a pretty hard week of training, and I think we have a 10-day block before we have to race London,” the Condors’ Lilly King said via Zoom Tuesday. “I know me personally, I’m going to put in another hard 10 days of training and go into it kind of like I would a college dual meet: Tired and hopefully swimming fast.”

Day 1 results, Notes

Day 2 results

Depth on display for the Condors

The headlines in Cali Condors’ 2020 resurgence belong to Lilly King and Caeleb Dressel, and deservedly so. But even as jackpot times accentuate those stars’ value, the Condors are proving to be so much more than just their headliners.

Hali Flickinger (photo: Mike Lewis)

Cali Condors’ Hali Flickinger; Photo Courtesy: Mike Lewis/ISL

It was evidenced in the women’s medley relay to cap Day 1. The Condors fielded an A relay with three Olympic gold medalists – Olivia Smoliga, King, Kelsi Dahlia and Natalie Hinds, the latter the lone non-medalist but who’s been killing it in relays in Budapest. That foursome won, to no one’s surprise. But such is the depth that the B relay (Beata Nelson, Molly Hannis, Erika Brown and Allison Schmitt) took second. The haul of 32 points, and control of the skins, ended any doubt about what team would win ISL Match 4 long before Day 2 started.

King and Dressel get the attention, for their 25-for-25 all-time unbeatability and versatility, respectively. But their star power shouldn’t overshadow the other contributors to the domination. Smoliga, as evidenced by the skins choice, was as valuable as anyone. She was first at each of the three levels, earning the win in the final by beating teammate Nelson by a second. Should the Condors drop a medley relay down the road, it makes yet another perilous stroke choice for the team picking skins.

“It was definitely an interesting meet, not as close as our last one against Energy Standard, so we were able to move some people around to different events and still end up on top,” King said. “It was good to see if we can throw other people in different events and see how they do. I thought it went pretty well.”

Hali Flickinger had a huge meet, winning the 200 fly and 400 free and finishing second in the 400 IM. Melanie Margalis swept the 100 IM and 200 IM. Radoslaw Kawecki set an ISL record in the men’s 200 backstroke on Day 1. Eddie Wang, the 200 fly world junior record holder, earned his first ISL win. The parade of valuable second places – Justin Ress in the men’s 50 free, Hannis in the women’s 100 breast, Nelson again and again – underscore that value.

The skins allowed Smoliga to finish as the top women’s scorer with 66 points. Fourth was Nelson, with Flickinger sixth and King seventh. The Condors had five of the top seven scorers overall – Dressel, as ever, was first with 75 points – and the top four women’s scorers.

An epic breaststroke battle

If you’re looking for the most notable races on the men’s side of the draw, look no further than breaststroke, where boredom was in short supply.

In Monday’s 200, Marco Koch annihilated the ISL record in 2:00.81, scaring the world record by six tenths. More important for ISL purposes, the German stole all but runner-up Thomas Cope’s points, a record jackpot of 30 points going a long way toward the Breakers’ second-place standing after Day 1.

Emre Sakci (photo: Mike Lewis)

Team Iron’s Emre Sakci; Photo Courtesy: Mike Lewis/ISL

The 50 brought Emre Sakci of Team Iron, who set an ISL and European record in 25.50. He tallied 24 points with the win against a deep field studded by Michael Andrew in second and Dressel third.

Sakci and Koch collided in Tuesday’s 100, the Turkish swimmer getting the win by nine hundredths of a second in 57.17.

Sakci won the day in skins, taking the victory over Dressel in the final. He was first at each stage, his quickest time reserved for finals in 25.73, powering past Dressel in his 13th swim of the match. Sakci’s jackpot time in the first round, taking 15 points, nullified the Breakers pushing Andrew and Koch into the semifinals and kept Team Iron in second place to stay.

“Emre is such a funny guy and he’s swimming so great right now,” teammate Ranomi Kromowidjojo said. “I didn’t know of him before, but he has such a great personality, he’s really fun and he loves swimming the skins. I was quite a bit jealous for not swimming skins today. It hurts a lot but it’s really fun. And after the skins, I spoke with him and he really loved it. He’s the best addition to Team Iron.”

A Ranomi resurgence for Team Iron

The way the ISL breaks up its event slate turns Day 2 into an unofficial Ranomi Kromowidjojo Day. Tuesday, it turned Team Iron into a second-place finisher.

The Dutch sprinter struggled on Day 1, taking eighth in the 100 fly and incurring a rare loss in the 50 free to Kasia Wasick of the New York Breakers. Her two relays finished no higher than fourth.

But Tuesday, Kromowidjojo came up huge. She avenged the loss to Wasick decisively in the 100 free. She added a victory in the 50 fly, a 1-2 with Melanie Henique that vaulted Team Iron into a tie with the Breakers for second.

“Obviously the 50 fly was a really important event for us,” Kromowidjojo said. “With Melanie, we wanted to win so many points. Yesterday we didn’t do a really great job, so we needed to swim really fast. … For me winning the 50 fly was really nice.”

It’s the same thing that Kromowidjojo did in Match 2. Then, she had a win on Day 1 in the 50 free (a 1-2 with Henique, an under-the-radar standout). She followed it up with Day 2 wins in the 100 free and 50 fly (again, 1-2 with Henique) and making the semifinals of the backstroke skins.

An American sprint preview in Budapest?

Three American clubs at ISL Match 4 provided a decent quorum of American freestyle talent, sufficient to whet the appetite for Olympic Trials down the road.

It’s tempting to read into Zach Apple’s defeat of Dressel in the 100 free. But DC’s Apple has been sensational all season, again breaking 46 seconds to go 45.94 and hand Dressel (46.42) a decisive loss.

In the men’s 200 free, Townley Haas took the win in 1:42.57. Apple closed strong, another indication of his strength, to finish third. Zane Grothe was fifth. Grothe was second in the 400 free, after winning it in Match 2, this time behind the Breakers’ Felix Aubock.

In the relays, Take Jackson split a 46.56, within two tenths of Dressel. Haas went 46.40, and Jacob Pebley showed off a 46.46.

Odds and Ends

The NY Breakers settled for third behind a bevy of mid-level scorers. Beyond Andrew and Koch, Joe Litchfield was second in the 100 fly and 50 back, plus two thirds. Abbie Wood was their top women’s swimmer, following silver medals in the 100 and 200 IM by winning the 400 IM, though with ISL record-holder Margalis not in the event.

Wasick won the 50 free. “I really enjoy being the underdog team,” Wasick said, “and I think we showed today we’re going to make some noise.”…

How about Nicholas Santos? The 40-year-old Brazilian on Team Iron won the men’s 50 fly to take the team lead for good, outdueling Dressel.  He was also third in the 100 fly and part of the winning medley relay. …

The event of the meet might have been the men’s 100 back, on sheer lunacy. Just 0.21 seconds separated the top five finishers. Exactly 0.00 seconds separated finishers three through five. Yes, a three-way tie for third. Jacob Pebley of DC Trident won the event in 50.51. Iron’s Guilherme Bassetto surprised for second, then the Condors’ Kawecki and Coleman Stewart and DC’s Mark Nikolaev tied for third at 50.72. …

The Trident finished fourth as a team, yet they won the mixed medley relay Tuesday via Apple, Pebley, Margo Geer and Ting Wen Quah.

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