ISL Match 6: Duncan Scott, London Roar Hold off Caeleb Dressel-less Cali Condors

SCOTT Duncan LON NAKAMURA Katsumi LON London Roar (LON) ISL International Swimming League 2021 Match 6 day 2 Piscina Felice Scandone Napoli, Naples Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
London Roar's Katsumi Nakamura, left, and Duncan Scott; Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia /Insidefoto/ISL

ISL Match 6, Day 2: Duncan Scott, London Roar Hold off Caeleb Dressel-less Cali Condors

It’s been a very long time since an International Swimming League match has proceeded without the Cali Condors on top. The ‘Dors were dominant in the 2020 bubble season, winning all four regular-season matches, taking the second semifinal and then the Grand Final in grand fashion.

But for the first time, the Condors look, if not vulnerable, at least in the same atmospheric strata and their fellow competitors. They entered the second day of ISL Match 6 trailing the London Roar and without Caeleb Dressel in the lineup, a chance to show their considerable if unheralded depth on the men’s side and to showcase an outstanding women’s contingent that is not to be overlooked. They endured a big mid-meet DQ to dent their comeback chances.

In the end, though, the depth of a surging London Roar proved to be too much, adding a layer of intrigue to an ISL 2021 season that no longer looks like a two-horse race between the Condors and Energy Standard. On the other end of the standings, Aqua Centurions moved its way into third place in the skins, covering a 28-point deficit heading into the final swims and leap-frogging the Tokyo Frog Kings.

Final Team Standing of ISL Match 6:

  1. London Roar 529.5
  2. Cali Condors 478.5
  3. Aqua Centurions 379.5
  4. Tokyo Frog Kings 367.5

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Women’s 100 freestyle

Emma McKeon opened ISL Match 6 with a runner-up result in the 100 butterfly. She starts Day 2 by getting a win, clocking in at 51.47 seconds to get the Roar off on the front foot. No jackpot points for the Aussie, and her teammate Kim Busch was eighth. That means the Condors win the event, with Natalie Hinds and Erika Brown going 2-3.

Men’s 100 freestyle

The first ripple of Dressel’s absence is felt, with Duncan Scott taking the race in 46.53 seconds, a 1-2 with teammate Katsumi Nakamura. All eight swimmers were separated by .57 seconds, with the top seven .33 apart. Scott outtouched Nakamura by .03, while Justin Ress of the Condors was third another three hundredths back. Incidentally, Scott and Nakamura turned seventh and sixth, respectively, whereas Ress was second. Remember this final 50 for a 12-point swing in London’s favor if the Roar end up on top at the end of the day.

In the race to avoid fourth, the Aqua Centurions get dealt a blow with Alessandro Miressi down in sixth, behind both Tokyo swimmers, led by fourth-place Pedro Spajari.

Women’s 200 butterfly

The Condors roar back with a 1-2 from Kelsi Dahlia and Katerine Savard. Dahlia repeated in the fly events by going 2:04.75 and stealing a London point in the jackpot. Savard was second in 2:06.43 with Tokyo’s Keanna MacInnes .03 back in third. London’s Ilaria Bianchi slipped from second at the 150 to fourth. That swing brings the Condors within 7.5 points of London, 308-300.5.

Men’s 200 butterfly

Daiya Seto is at it again, the world-record holder butting down a 1:50.68 to gain 15 points via the jackpot and solidify the Frog Kings’ hold on third place. The only one who could keep close was his countryman Teppei Morimoto, one of the unsung pickups for the London Roar, who was second in 1:51.16. Aqua Centurions got some needed third-place points via Leonardo de Deus.

Women’s 100 backstroke

If butterfly swung the match toward Cali, backstroke has swung it back, with their depth and strength. (Bad luck for the Roar that neither skins is backstroke.) Over 100 meters, Kira Toussaint and Minna Atherton battled it out, the world record holders over 50 and 100 meters, respectively. The sprinter took this battle, Toussaint touching first in 56.36. Atherton was second just .06 behind, and the Roar swept up 19 points in the race, including three to Toussaint via jackpot. Cali limited the damage to just a minus-8, with Olivia Smoliga and Sherridon Dressel going third and fourth. After the 100 back, the Roar’s lead in ISL Match 6 has yo-yoed back to 21.5 points.

Men’s 100 backstroke

Being without Caeleb Dressel may be survivable. But not if the Condors have to deal with a disqualification and a minus-32 point swing in the 100 back.

That what happened in what may be close to a worse case scenario. At the front, Guilherme Guido won the race in 49.29 and picked up 19 points via jackpot. Christian Diener was a respectable fourth for the London Roar.

But Jose Angel Martinez didn’t start the race for Cali. And Coleman Stewart, the new world record holder, was disqualified for staying underwater longer than 15 meters. That’s a minus-4 and minus-2, respectively. That has turned a tight race into a big lead for the Roar of 51.5 points, what may be insurmountable.

After 26 events in ISL Match 6, the team standings are

  1. London Roar 362
  2. Cali Condors 310.5
  3. Tokyo Frog Kings 245
  4. Aqua Centurions 206.5
Women’s 100 individual medley

It’s going to be up to the Cali Condor women to close the gap, it appears. First up, Beata Nelson, who got the win in the 100 IM in 57.99 seconds and tallied a tidy 12 jackpot points. She’s also just .69 seconds off the league record set last year by Beryl Gastaldello. Sydney Pickrem of the London Roar was second in 58.48 with Chihiro Igarashi and Yui Ohashi third and fourth, respectively, for Tokyo.

Men’s 100 individual medley

Duncan Scott picked up another win for London, outkicking Thomas Ceccon on the final lap to win in 51.92. The Italian got Aqua Centurions a belated spark in 52.12 for second with Tokyo’s Vladimir Morozov third. Nic Fink could only salvage fourth for the Condors with Marcin Cieslak fifth.

Women’s 100 breaststroke

When Lilly King’s team needs a win, Lilly King obliges. In a battle with Alia Atkinson, King finished on top in 1:03.54, earning the Condors 10 points. Aqua Centurions Arianna Castiglioni did the Condors a solid by nudging in between King and Atkinson at 1:03.90, with Atkinson third in 1:04.05.

Men’s 100 breaststroke

The title race took a backseat, with the Roar and Condors in fifth through eighth. (Advantage ‘Dors, 7-2, in the exchange.) Instead, Yashiro Koseki took advantage to win in 56.31, getting 10 big points. In the process, he denied Nicolo Martinenghi his third straight in in the event, the Italian settling for second in 56.57, six tenths ahead of teammate Fabio Scozzoli.

Women’s 50 butterfly

It might be too little, too late for Aqua Centurions, but Holly Barratt and Elena di Liddo going 1-2 is a boost. Barratt got the win in 25.30, continuing a strong season from her. Di Liddo was .13 seconds back, edging Emily McKeon by .01. Beata Nelson got the Condors into the wall fourth. The Centurions are just 25.5 points behind Tokyo, and fly is the women’s skins choice, so more to come from Barratt and di Liddo.

Men’s 50 butterfly

Without Caeleb Dressel in his signature event, Szebasztian Szabo provided plenty of speed, winning in a time of 22.18 seconds for Aqua Centurions, boosting their total by 12 points. Dylan Carter came up big for London by finishing second, and teammate Vini Lanza tied for third with Tokyo’s Takeshi Kawamoto.

Women’s 200 freestyle

Erika Brown kept it long and brought it back strong to hold of Federica Pellegrini and get the win for the Condors. Her time of 1:54.17 was two tenths better than the Aqua Centurions swimmer. Third was Cali teammate Katerine Savard in 1:54.63, with Tokyo Paige Madden another two tenths back. It’s a solid pickup for the Condors, with 15 points to London’s five.

Men’s 200 freestyle

Three swims, three disciplines, three wins for Duncan Scott on Sunday. Again, he did his work in the back half to win in 1:42.43 for the Roar. Second was Tokyo’s Cristian Quintero in 1:43.22 with Zac Incerti notching a nice secondary point haul to consolidate the Roar’s edge in third place.

Mixed Medley Relay

Knowing the skins races – men’s free, women’s fly – don’t really suit their talents, the London Roar had to figure that their big point haul would have to come earlier in the day. Splitting the relay depth just might get that done.

The tactic worked perfectly for the Roar, orchestrating a 1-2 finish and 32 massive points, in the process outgaining the Condors by 12. First place went to Guilherme Guido, Alia Atkinson, Emma McKeon and Kyle Chalmers, with the fresh Aussie on the end roaring up from eighth to first in 45.63. Their time was 3:35.57. Second was the foursome of Minna Atherton, Ross Murdoch, Vini Lanza and Kira Toussaint. Lanza did the work there, getting the squad from sixth to second, and Toussaint held it up with a 52.47 to put them nine-tenths back. The Cali Condors edged Tokyo by .01 for third with their B squad in fifth.

That makes the team scores in ISL Match 6:

  1. London Roar 467.5
  2. Cali Condors 399.5
  3. Tokyo Frog Kings 318.5
  4. Aqua Centurions 303.5

Women’s 400 individual medley

Yui Ohashi turned in a dominant performance, first at every wall on the way to a winning time of 4:31.60 and 19 points for the Frog Kings. Second was the Cali Condors’ Anastasia Sorokina in 4:34.62, with London’s Katie Shanahan third just .05 back. Both collected 10 points via the intermediate checkpoints.

Men’s 400 individual medley

Daiya Seto continues his impressive form, the only man to crack four minutes in 3:59.01. He tallied 21 points between the jackpot and intermediate bonuses. He also denied Aqua Centurions’ Ilia Borodin his third win of the season in the event, the Russian settling for second in 4:00.31. Chase Kalisz was third for AC.

Heading to the skins, the Frog Kings hold a 28-point lead over Aqua Centurions for the third-place points.

Women’s skins

It’s butterfly for the women, which plays into the wheelhouse of the Cali Condors, with Kelsi Dahlia and Beata Nelson, neither of whom swam the 50 fly earlier in the Day. That event was a 1-2 for Aqua Centurions, but only Holly Barratt was able to replicate her performance by advancing from Round 1 with a time of 25.38 in second. Elena di Liddo fell to fifth, leaving them with 11 points from the first round, though that’s nine more than Tokyo, which finished seventh end eighth. London’s Emma McKeon scratched her way into the second round.

From there, skins was an all-Cali show, with Dahlia winning Round 2 in 25.51, .2 up on Nelson. She was .5 up on Nelson in the final, Dahlia winning in 25.80. That’s 53 points for Cali, but more importantly, 16 for the Centurions to half their deficit to Tokyo for third.

Men’s skins

Aqua Centurions needed a plus-14 margin from the men’s skins race. After Round 1, it picked up nine points, Szebasztian Szabo and Alessandro Miressi going 1-2 to advance. Szabo set the pace in 21.32, with just .11 separating him from fifth-place Justin Ress. London’s Katsumi Nakamura confirmed London’s win by getting through Round 3 in third, while Tokyo kept kicking via Pedro Spajari in fourth. The Condors were, in a rarity, locked out of Round 2.

Nakamura took it from there, winning the second round in 22.14. Miressi also advanced, with AC picking up 13 points to Spajari’s five for Tokyo in Round 2. That total, 29 points for Aqua Centurions to 12 for the Tokyo Frog Kings, was enough to jump into third.

That meant Miressi could take it easy in the final, which was good since he wasn’t catching Nakamura’s 22.93. He got jackpotted in the process, the Roar swimmer going 22.93.

On the MVP front, Daiya Seto took top honors with 57 points, a hollow consolation for the Frog Kings. Kelsi Dahlia and Beata Nelson were second and third, respectively, for the Condors. But London followed with the next four spots – in order, Duncan Scott, Guilherme Guido, Emma McKeon and Katsumi Nakamura – in a stirring display of depth.

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