ISL Wins Report: Nicholas Santos is Mr. 8-for-8 in 50 Butterfly; A Look At Other Superlatives

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Nicholas Santos; Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

 ISL Wins Report: Nicholas Santos is Mr. 8-for-8 in 50 Butterfly

It’s a very narrow path that Nicholas Santos and his Team Iron mates tread in the International Swimming League season.

For six of the league’s franchises, four matches were sufficient to book a spot in the semifinals. Team Iron and DC Trident required the extra Match 11 play-in to gain their three additional semifinal matches; the other two contestants in that match went home after a fifth regular-season match.

Of the two teams of swimmers that took part in eight matches before the Grand Final, Santos is the only one who won the same race each time out. And if the fact that the Brazilian is 41 years old doesn’t sufficiently impress you, the hectic nature of his signature event certainly must.

Santos went an almost impossible 8-for-8 in the men’s 50 fly. He swept out Iron’s regular-season matches, took top honors in Match 11 to lead the team’s progress to the semis, then managed to come out on top of all three playoff matches. It’s made even more impressive by the miniscule margin for error in an event that takes 22 seconds to complete and in which taking 22.5 seconds would doom you.

Santos won’t move on to the ISL Grand Final with the chance to make it nine-for-nine. And he didn’t wrest sole possession of the world record back from Szebasztian Szabo, the Hungarian swimmer who tied his 21.75 mark at Euros in November. But Santos did rout the Aqua Centurion both times they tangled in this season.

Santos’s eight wins mark the standout performance of the ISL regular season and semifinals. Before we roll into this week’s Grand Final, a few other standouts on the wins front:

– Only one other man could claim going at least 7-for-7 in an event. That’s Aqua Centurions’ Nicolo Martinenghi, who won the 50 breaststroke seven times. The last one was toughest, tying teammate Fabio Scozzoli. (Oddly that was the first tie for victory on the men’s side all season, as opposed to five ties on the women’s side.)

– Three women have pulled the 7-for-7 trick, and they shouldn’t be surprises. The Cali Condors’ Lilly King has won all seven 100 breaststroke events she’s raced this year. Sarah Sjostrom has done the same for the 50 fly; her Energy Standard teammate Siobhan Haughey is likewise untouched in the 200 free.

Those three women also each have at least one six-win event. King was won the 200 breast on six occasions (plus five in the 50 breast). Sjostrom has five 50 free triumphs. Haughey has six wins in the 400 free that concludes the Day 1 slate and six wins in the 100 free that opens Day 2.

– The men’s side features much more parity, at least in the non-breaststroke events. Only four swimmers have six or more wins in a single event this year, and three are breaststrokers. In addition to Martinenghi’s seven in the 50, Team Iron’s Erik Persson won the 200 breast six times. Energy Standard’s Ilya Shymanovich won the 100 breast six times, twice setting the world record. (Shymanovich is the clear breaststroke star, with five wins in both the 50 and 200 breast for a total of 16 wins out of a possible 18 races. He missed the opener, participating in Energy’s final six meets.)

– Let’s talk skins: The men’s skins king was Team Iron’s Thom de Boer, winning freestyle skins on four occasions, including in Matches 9, 10 and 11. Teammate Robert Glinta was one of only three multiple skins winners, taking backstroke twice. Ryan Murphy did the same in a pair of playoff matches for LA Current. For all the talk of breaststroke dominance, it was not swum once on the men’s side in skins (seven free, six back, four fly).

On the women’s side, in what may be a preview of the Grand Final, Kelsi Dahlia won fly skins four times. She could take on Sjostrom, who won freestyle skins on three occasions, in that event in the finale. Should it go to backstroke, expect a duel between LA Current’s Ingrid Wilm and London Roar’s Minna Atherton (two wins each).

– The women’s side of the draw features more prominent powers. In addition to King, Haughey and Sjostrom, Beata Nelson won the 200 back and 100 IM six times each. Her Cali Condors teammate Dahlia won the 100 fly six times. London Roar’s Kira Toussaint was a six-time 50 back champ. D.C. Trident’s Bailey Andison won the 400 IM six times.

– Five-time men’s winners include: LA Current’s Tom Shields (men’s 100 fly), D.C.’s Andreas Vazaios (200 IM) and Aleksandr Shchegolev (200 free), Brendon Smith of the NY Breakers (400 free), London’s Kyle Chalmers (100 free, plus four 50 free wins), Team Iron’s Marco Orsi (100 IM), Daiya Seto of the Tokyo Frog Kings (200 fly) and Aqua Centurions’ Ilia Borodin (400 IM). Special recognition to Smith and Seto for going 5-for-5 before their teams were eliminated.

– On the women’s side, the five-time winners include Toronto’s Louise Hansson (100 fly) and Kylie Masse (100 back, plus four in the 50 and two in the 200); LA Current’s Ingrid Wilm (100 back); Alia Atkinson of the London Roar (100 breast); and Team Iron’s Ranomi Kromowidjojo (50 fly).

– The most perplexing event had to be the men’s 200 back, which no one won more than three times. Jacob Pebley won three times in the regular season. Evgeny Rylov won three overall. Murphy won twice in the postseason after missing the regular season. The event featured two wins each from Grigory Tarasevich, Luke Greenbank, Christian Diener and Lorenzo Mora. Expect Rylov, Murphy, Greenbank, Deiner and Coleman Stewart (one win) to slug it out in the grand final.

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