The Week That Was: Energy, Cali Win Again in ISL, Paralympic Swimming Concludes

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Sarah Sjostrom during the 2021 ISL regular season -- Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu/ISL

The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

During the past week of swimming, the International Swimming League (ISL) continued with two more matches, and while no world records fell this week, it was the same story as usual as Energy Standard and the Cali Condors each picked up a victory. In Tokyo, the Paralympic swimming competition wrapped up with the final five days of competition, Sarah Sjostrom is out for the rest of the ISL regular season, and we learned some big news about last year’s dominant men’s NCAA swimmer, Shaine Casas.

Read the five biggest stories of the week in The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

The Week That Was #1: ISL Competition Continues in Naples

Caeleb Dressel (photo: Mike Lewis)

Caeleb Dressel competing for the Cali Condors during the 2021 ISL season — Photo Courtesy: Mike Lewis/ISL

By Matthew De George and David Rieder

Match #3: It started Friday, in ISL Match 3 in Naples, with Energy Standard trotting out Sarah Sjostrom and Siobhan Haughey and daring the other three teams in the meet to do something about it.

It would end, less than two hours later, with Sjostrom and Haughey leading the way in the skins, and with Energy Standard winning its second straight match to open up the third season of the International Swimming League. And it would require just .5 points to separate them atop the MVP standings, Haughey taking the honors with 78 points to the 77.5 for Sjostrom.

A strong second day from Team Iron helped it solidify third place, putting a little scare into the London Roar briefly but ultimately not enough to unseat their Euro rival. The New York Breakers were third for a second meet this young season.

Match #4: The Cali Condors have been mostly untouchable in International Swimming League (ISL) competition over the last year, but in Match #4 of this year’s regular season, held entirely in Naples, Italy, the LA Current have been a formidable opponent. On day one, Cali opened up a big lead and then could only watch as LA inched back into the competition and took the lead after the 400 freestyles. Cali then won both medley relays to surge back in front, but the advantage was only 24 points heading into day two.

Sunday’s action saw the Current hang around for a while, particularly as Abbey Weitzeil won the 100 free and Tom Shields took first in the 200 fly, but the superstars from Cali were soon too much for any other team to keep pace. Caeleb Dressel won all four of his events, including the 100 free, 100 IM and 50 fly individually and then the 50 freestyle skins. Meanwhile, Kelsi Dahlia dominated the women’s 200 fly and later on butterfly skins, and those wins plus jackpots and triumphs by Lilly KingBeata Nelson and Coleman Stewart helped Cali multiply its lead.

Meanwhile, the team battle for third was exciting as well, as DC Trident moved ahead of Aqua Centurions with a jackpot win in the women’s 400 IM before Aqua came right back with a 1-2 in the men’s 400 IM.

#2: Jessica Long Earns 29th Paralympic Medal and 16th Gold as Games Conclude

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Jessica Long — Photo Courtesy: Arena

By Matthew De George

Jessica Long finished the Tokyo Paralympics with another line item on her unparalleled CV, winning the women’s S8 100 butterfly for her 29th career Paralympic medal and 16th career gold.

Long bested the field with a time of 1:09.87. She edged Viktoriia Ishchiulova by .93 seconds, with no one else in the field within 10 seconds of the winning pair. It’s Long’s sixth medal of the Tokyo Paralympics and third gold medal.

“I truly have always said the Paralympics are for those who are super-mentally tough and that is what I tried to channel today because I was tired and hurting and sore,” Long said. “But I love swimming and I love to race and that is what I tried to do tonight.”

Read about all the action from the second half of the Paralympic swimming competition:

The Week That Was #3: Sarah Sjostrom Leaves Naples After Two ISL Matches; Will Return for Playoffs

Sarah Sjostrom (photo: Mike Lewis)

Sarah Sjostrom — Photo Courtesy: Mike Lewis/ISL

By David Rieder

After competing in Energy Standard’s first two matches of the 2021 ISL regular season in Naples, Italy, superstar Sarah Sjostrom has returned home to Sweden and will miss the remainder of the ISL regular season. Sjostrom fractured her elbow after slipping on ice earlier this year and only returned to racing in June, and according to a post on Instagram, she and her team decided she would be better off spending more time training and rehabbing that injury rather than remaining in Naples through Energy Standard’s final two matches.

Sjostrom was the MVP of Match #1 as she won the 50 freestyle, 50 butterfly and 50 freestyle skins and finished second in the 100 freestyle. In Match #3 this week, Sjostrom set the ISL record in the 50 free with her 23.17 and again finished second in the 100 free, first in the 50 fly and first in freestyle skins. She did, however, finish one-half of a point behind Energy teammate Siobhan Haughey as the match MVP.

Energy Standard has comfortably won its two matches so far, and the team was the 2019 league champion and 2020 runner-up, so the remaining swimmers should have no trouble advancing to November’s ISL playoffs in Eindhoven. The top six teams from the regular season will automatically qualify, and even without Sjostrom, it would be stuning if Energy is not among them.

#4: Shaine Casas Leaving Texas A&M, Heading to University of Texas

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Shaine Casas — Photo Courtesy: Luke Jamroz Photography

By David Rieder

The reigning CSCAA Men’s Swimmer of the Year is on the move. Sources have confirmed to Swimming World that Shaine Casas is departing Texas A&M and plans to transfer to the University of Texas. After winning his first U.S. national titles in the summer of 2019 and then posting incredible swims in late 2020, Casas was the NCAA champion in three events in 2021, the 200-yard IM, 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke, and he went on to finish third in the 100-meter back and sixth in the 200 back at the U.S. Olympic Trials, missing out on making the Olympic team in the 100 back by less than three tenths. Details about Casas’ pending transfer are still unclear.

Just last year, the Aggies earned their first top-10 finish at the men’s NCAA swimming championships since 2001, and Casas was the first individual men’s swimming national champion the program had ever produced. His departure is a major blow to an Aggie men’s program on the rise for the past several years. On the flip side, his addition would be a huge gain for a Texas men’s team that won last year’s national championship and will be aiming for a 16th team title under legendary coach Eddie Reese. With Casas, the group would be overwhelming favorites to defend their title.

The Week That Was #5: FINA President Husain Al-Musallam Subject of Renewed Interest in U.S. Corruption Probe (Report)

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By Matthew De George

FINA President Husain Al-Musallam is the subject of renewed interest by the United States in its investigation of global sports corruption, the Associated Press revealed on Thursday.

The primary target of the investigation, which began in 2017 as an offshoot of the larger FIFA corruption scandal, is reported to be Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah. He is regarded as a “kingmaker” in International Olympic Committee elections for the power he wields, including in the election of current IOC president Thomas Bach, and has been targeted with allegations of bribery and racketeering.

The documents that the AP revealed this week included a request from the U.S. embassy in Kuwait, on behalf of the Department of Justice, to local authorities for all information on Sheikh Ahmad, Al-Musallam and several others. It was dated June 7, 2017, and delivered in September of that year. The scope of materials it asked for stretched back to at least 2009.

Sheikh Ahmad told the AP this week that he asked the Kuwaiti authorities then to give the U.S. any and all information as, “I have nothing to hide.”

From the AP report:

The DOJ document seen by the AP details payments totaling about $1 million from Kuwait — wired from personal accounts held by three of the men and Olympic organizations run by the sheikh — to a FIFA official from Guam. That man, U.S. citizen Richard Lai, admitted to financial conspiracy charges in federal court in April 2017 and agreed to pay $1.1 million in penalties. He has yet to be sentenced.

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