ISL Match Seven Notes: Struggles of Katinka Hosszu a Surprise; Emre Sakci Scares World Record

Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

ISL Match Seven Notes: Struggles of Katinka Hosszu a Surprise

There was a time when Katinka Hosszu would climb atop the blocks and routinely deliver several swift performances in a single session of competition. The Hungarian’s ability to handle a taxing schedule contributed to her Iron Lady identity and prepared her for major competition, when semifinal rounds were added to her racing demands.

Hosszu, though, has been anything but an Iron Lady during the second season of the International Swimming League. Although Hosszu prevailed in a pair of individual events during Team Iron’s first match of the season, she went winless in her second match and during the opening session of her third meet. Really, it has been a surprising turn of events.

As Team Iron closed the opening day of Match Three in third place with 205 points, Hosszu contributed a third-place showing in the 200 individual medley and was a member of two fifth-place relays. In the medley, where Hosszu is the world-record holder, she struggled on the breaststroke leg and watched Canadian Kelsey Wog roll to victory for the Toronto Titans.

In addition to not registering the triumphs that so many in the sport have been accustomed to seeing from Hosszu, the three-time Olympic champion has had her share of middle-of-the-field finishes. Are Hosszu’s efforts the product of brutal training, or as a 31-year-old, is recovery not coming as easily as it once did?

There is no doubt that Hosszu’s ultimate focus is on next year’s delayed Olympic Games, where she will be the defending champion in the 200 medley, 400 medley and 100 backstroke. And if Hosszu shows up in Tokyo and puts together a sensational week, it won’t be shocking, giving what she has done in the sport. But for now, and due to her history of excelling during grueling programs, it is surprising to see Katinka Hosszu struggle.


Chasing a World Record

There was one world-record scare during the session, courtesy of Turkey’s Emre Sakci in the 50 breaststroke. Representing Team Iron, Sakci clocked a time of 25.29, the second-fastest performance in history, and finished just off Cameron van der Burgh’s world record of 25.25. Coming up on his 23rd birthday, Sakci has been superb throughout this ISL season and will take his speed into a showdown on Friday with Energy Standard’s Ilya Shymanovich in the 100 breaststroke.

While Sakci is flourishing in the short-course format of the ISL, he should be a factor in the big pool at the Olympics. Sakci owns a best time of 58.85 in the long-course version of the 100 breaststroke, a mark he produced in the Summer of 2019. Although Adam Peaty is the overwhelming favorite to repeat as Olympic champ, Sakci has the talent to contend for a place on the podium.

Shane Ryan on a Roll

There is something to be said about an athlete who goes about his business and gets the job done, and Shane Ryan has fit that role for the Toronto Titans. A Penn State University graduate, Ryan remained unbeaten this ISL season in the 50 backstroke, his latest victory arriving in 22.86. He also contributed a third-place performance in the 100 butterfly.

Ryan is the heart of the Irish National Team and has provided Toronto with versatility, as he can also supply freestyle support to his backstroke and butterfly exploits. An argument can be made that Ryan is one of the ISL’s more underappreciated stars, as he simply puts in hard work during training and produces strong results without much fanfare.

A Miscount of Laps

Lithuania’s Danas Rapsys registered an unusual win in the 400 freestyle as he held off the D.C. Trident’s Zane Grothe, 3:40.83 to 3:40.93. But Rapsys’ decision should have been much more comfortable, as he stopped at the 350-meter mark and rested on the wall for several seconds, believing he had completed the race. Upon being alerted that he had two more lengths to cover, Rapsys dug deep to keep a hard-charging Grothe at bay.

Back in Style

Sidelined last weekend by a back injury, Sarah Sjostrom was back in action for defending champion Energy Standard, and the Swede looked sharp with a victory in the 50 freestyle. Sjostrom got the best of Team Iron’s Ranomi Kromowidjojo, thanks to a time of 23.41, the second-fastest of the ISL season. Sjostrom also anchored Energy Standard to a win in the 400 medley relay, producing an impressive split of 50.67.

Last season’s league MVP, Sjostrom tweaked her back while getting dressed ahead of Energy Standard’s last competition, an injury which forced her take it easy in training. Yet, when it came time to race, Sjostrom proved healthy enough to shine.

“It was nice to be back and start with a 50,” Sjostrom said. “It’s been 10 days of training very light. It was a challenge to come back in and sprint.”

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