ISL Playoff Match 2: Anastasia Gorbenko, Tom Shields Rally LA Current to Win

GORBENKO Anastasia LAC LA Current (LAC) ISL International Swimming League 2021 Match 8 day 2 Piscina Felice Scandone Napoli, Naples Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Anastasia Gorbenko; Photo Courtesy: Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

ISL Playoff Match 2: Anastasia Gorbenko, Tom Shields Rally LA Current to Win

Relays, as we saw in the first playoff match of the International Swimming League’s third season, can change matches. Skins races were designed by the league’s architects to do just that.

The L.A. Current knew that and used that on Sunday.

A big performance in the mixed medley relay put the Current in position to strike, and a breaststroke skins win by Anastasia Gorbenko consolidated by Tom Shields’ runner-up finish in the butterfly skins gave the Current a come-from-behind victory in ISL Playoff Match 2. They outlasted the London Roar, who faded down the stretch without their usual mid-distance and IM prowess.

There’s something positive to take for all four teams. The Current needed a win, knowing the schedule gets more difficult down the road. They also got a burst from the return of Ryan Murphy, who scored 58 points to win ISL Playoff Match 2 MVP ahead of London’s Emma McKeon and Toronto’s Summer McIntosh. The Toronto Titans have easier matches ahead and building blocks from this meet, despite being shorthanded on the men’s side. And the Aqua Centurions might face a long climb to make the Grand Final, but five wins down the stretch plus Matteo Rivolta’s skins victory are results to build on.

ISL Playoff Match 2 Final Standings

  1. LA Current 506
  2. London Roar 494.5
  3. Toronto Titans 398.5
  4. Aqua Centurions 357

Here is how the action unfolded:

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Women’s 100 freestyle

On Saturday, Emma McKeon started the Roar off by winning the 100 fly. Sunday, it was the 100 free, the Aussie winning in 51.28, just three tenths off the league record. (McKeon has been 51.05 this season). The LA Current picked up 12 points with Abbey Weitzel second and Madison Wilson fourth.

Men’s 100 freestyle

Kyle Chalmers is showing ISL what he can do. After limited participation in the regular season. Chalmers is back and ready to go. He got to the wall first in 46.30, a scintillating race in which the top six were separated by .87 seconds. Chalmers was first in 46.30, edging Aqua Centurions’ Vladislav Grinev by .07. Maxime Rooney and Brett Pinfold got the Current points in third and fourth. Alessandro Miressi led at the 50 but faded to fifth.

Women’s 200 butterfly

Toronto was hoping for a Day 2 surge. They might not have expected it would come from Laura Stephens. But the British swimmer went 2:05.37 in the 200 fly to lead a 1-2 with Summer McIntosh for 19 big points for the Titans. Third was London’s Ilaria Bianchi.

Men’s 200 butterfly

Fifth at the 100, fourth at the 150, Teppei Morimoto unleashed a 28.43 final 50 to get to the wall first in 1:51.80 and pick up nine points for London. That spoiled the party for Toronto’s Alberto Razzetti, who led at each wall but fell .01 behind Morimoto. Usually the rabbit, Tom Shields settled for third in 1:51.99.

Women’s 100 backstroke

A day after Kylie Masse set the Canadian record in the 200 back, the current national record holder in the 100 reasserted her claim. Ingrid Wilm won a spectacular race in 55.78 seconds, taking 12 points via the jackpot for the Current. She just edged out Kira Toussaint by .03, both splitting identical 28.82s on the way home. Masse had the fastest final 50 in 28.76, but she landed third in 56.01.

Men’s 100 backstroke

Q: Is Ryan Murphy back?

A: Oh yes.

The LA Current star who skipped the regular season busted out a 49.49 in the 100 to win and take a 15-point jackpot for the Current. It’s the fourth fastest time in ISL this season. With Apostolos Christou in third, it’s a 21-point haul for the Current. Breaking the Current blockade was London’s Guilherme Guido in 49.66.

Women’s 100 individual medley

Aqua Centurions have their first foothold of the day thanks to Mariia Kameneva, working the back half of the race to win in 58.15. the Current were the big winners, though, taking second and third via Beryl Gastaldello and Anastasia Gorbenko. It’s a 13-3 edge over London in the event.

Men’s 100 individual medley

Two in two for Aqua Centurions, though it might be too much to lift them out of the basement. Thomas Ceccon clocked in at 51.85 to get the victory ahead of Duncan Scott (52.09) of London and Javier Acevedo (52.21) of LA. The prize is 15 points via the jackpot in a very slow event.

Women’s 100 breaststroke

For all the new stars being minted in the ISL, let’s not forget about the veterans that have been there since the beginning. Alia Atkinson offered a reminder Sunday, going 1:03.58 in the 100 breast to take a 15-point jackpot for the London Roar. Third was Annie Lazor, winning of the 200 breast, as the Roar owned a 23-9 edge over the Current. Martina Carraro of Aqua Centurions got in between the Roar swimmers.

Men’s 100 breaststroke

The stroke strength of Aqua Centurions isn’t enough to avoid fourth in this meet, but it is impressive. Arno Kamminga doubled up on gold with a time of 56.31, using the second 50 to rally past his teammate Nicolo Martinenghi by .06. It was almost a replay of the Euro short course championships, with Toronto’s Fabian Schwingenschlogl and Anton McKee in third and fourth.

Women’s 50 butterfly

To the sprinters, and it’s another chance to celebrate for Aqua Centurions, with Holly Barratt continuing an outstanding season by winning in 25.31. She beat the Current’s Anna Ntountounaki by .12 with Silvia di Pietro third. It’s a surprising top three given all the star power in the event that didn’t challenge for the win.

Men’s 50 butterfly

Tom Shields picks up his first 50 fly win to complete the butterfly triple crown in a time of 22.51 and nine big points for the Current. Dylan Carter steps up with a massive swim for the London Roar in second in 22.52, tying Aqua Centurions’ Matteo Rivolta. Interestingly, Ryan Murphy finished seventh in 22.93 in a rare non-backstroke cameo (and a preview of the skins).

Women’s 200 freestyle

Freya Anderson picked a fine time for her first win of the season, getting to the wall in 1:53.00 to nab 10 points for the Roar. Second was Madison Wilson if LA Current. With Emma McKeon fourth, it’s 15 points for the Roar.

Men’s 200 freestyle

After winning the 400 free on Saturday, Luc Kroon pulled an even bigger comeback in the 200. He was eighth at the 100 and seventh heading into the final 50, but a torrid 25.43 got him the win in 1:43.48 and nine big points for the Toronto Titans. It spoiled the win of pacesetter Vladislav Grinev, who finished .13 seconds from a victory. Breno Correia of the LA Current stepped up with big points.

Mixed medley relay

The London Roar, it turns out, can’t win every relay. And as we saw in ISL Playoff Match 1, relays change things.

And so, the LA Current surge ahead, with 429 points to London’s 424.5. The Current not only get the win in 3:34.70 via Ingrid Wilm, Javier Acevedo, Maxime Rooney and Abbey Weitzeil. They not only get fifth-place points. But they end up jackpotting London’s B team with its A squad only managing fourth. That’s a 30-8 edge over the Roar that moves the Current in front.

Toronto was second, with Aqua Centurions third.

Women’s 400 individual medley

It’s too little, too late for the Toronto Titans. But perhaps the seed of fear in later matches is sowed. Summer McIntosh turned in a 4:27.87, the third fastest in ISL this season, to get the win. She roared to a Canadian 1-2 with Tessa Cieplucha, McIntosh netting 24 points with the jackpot and checkpoint points.

London does what it needs to surge back into the lead. The Current netted minus-1 point (Helena Gasson’s early checkpoint points went to McIntosh in the jackpot). Sydney Pickrem was third with Katie Shanahan fifth. That’s 14 points for the Roar.

Men’s 400 individual medley

Ilia Borodin gets Aqua Centurions a consolation prize with a win in the 400 IM in 4:01.75. His 21 points do the LA Current a big favor, denying Duncan Scott those jackpot points in second. Again the Roar hold the edge, with 11 points to LA Current’s seven.

Heading into the skins, the team scores of ISL Playoff Match 2 are:

  1. London Roar 449.5
  2. LA Current 435
  3. Toronto Titans 393.5
  4. Aqua Centurions 309

Women’s skins (breaststroke)

When the London Roar picked breaststroke skins, they might not have been thinking about Anastasia Gorbenko, who hadn’t swum the event this season. Teams won’t make that mistake ever again.

Gorbenko pulled off a massive surprise, the Israeli upstart first at every stage and punctuating it by stealing the win in the final meters, a short half-stroke getting her hands to the wall ahead of the long glide of Alia Atkinson by .03 seconds.

Gorbenko was first in the opening round in 29.53, leading a Current 1-2 with Imogen Clark, the winner of the 50 breast event in bettering her British record. The Current took a 19-6 edge in the opening round, with Atkinson third and Aqua Centurions’ Martina Carraro fourth.

Gorbenko was the only one sub-30 in the second round in 29.90, her and Atkinson advancing. Clark still held onto her points, though. It means the Current glean 47 points from skins with London taking only 20. The Current own a 12.5-point advantage headed to men’s skins.

Men’s skins (butterfly)

Doubt Tom Shields at your own peril. Sunday, the American was the match-winner for Current, finishing second in skins to oust a pair of London Roar swimmers and help the Current defend the advantage it carried into the final race.

Shields was second in the first round in 22.46, behind London Roar’s Dylan Carter (a Trinidad & Tobago record 22.25). The Roar snuck two into finals, with Kyle Chalmers also getting there around Aqua Centurions Matteo Rivolta. No jackpots in the first round, so London trimmed the deficit by four points.

But Shields ended all hope in the semifinal. Rivolta was first in 23.23. but Shields got his hand to the wall ahead of the London duo in an amazingly close race: Shields in 23.31, Chalmers in 23.35, Carter in 23.49. The Roar were at that point within 4.5, but with no swimmers left, they had no chance to overtake the Current. Rivolta finished it with a 23.39 in the final, Aqua Centurions first skins win in either gender this season. But the day belong to Shields, second in the final round to ice the win.

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