2021 ISL Playoffs – Match 2, Day 1: Relays Give London the Edge in Tight Day 1

Saturday, November 13th – Sunday, November 14th
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm local time; 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST
Pieter van den Hoogenband Zwemstadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Short Course Meters (25m – SCM) Format
ISL Season 3 Schedules, Start Times, & More
Teams Competing: London Roar, Toronto Titans, Aqua Centurions, LA Current
Match 2 Preview
Omega Live Results
Entries

DAY 1 LIVE RECAP

Day 1 of Match 2 of the ISL playoffs is in the books, and boy, was it a thriller. There were plenty of storylines to follow here, so let’s start with one we were anticipating coming into the match. Today’s meet marked the debut of Ryan Murphy in this ISL season. Murphy, as expected, provided a big boost to LA Current’s roster, easily winning the men’s 200 backstroke, before going on to handle his business in the 50 back as well. There’s more positive news for LA as well, as it appears overwhelmingly likely Murphy will win the 100 back tomorrow too.

The other main storyline to follow through day 1 is that this meet is faster than the first playoff match, which took place on Thursday and Friday. Match 2 had a faster winner than Match 1 in 12 of the 20 events that were competed today. The gap between Match 2’s winning time and that of Match 1 was fairly small in many cases, however, there were some events which were significantly faster in Match 2. One such event was the men’s 4×100 free relay, which was won by Cali Condors with a 3:08.46 in Match 1, but London Roar swam a 3:05.43 to win in Match 2 today. The Condors would have actually come in 3rd in today’s relay, as LA Current swam a 3:08.03 for 2nd.

Men’s Skins

Toronto – no choice
Aqua eliminates backstroke
LA eliminates freestyle
London chooses butterfly over breaststroke

This was a pretty straight-forward one for the London Roar when things came down to it. They had the choice between breaststroke, their weakest event with no Adam Peaty or Kirill Prigoda, and butterfly, where they are also not great but at least have Vini Lanza and Dylan Carter, who have each finished as high as 3rd in a men’s 50 fly skins so far this season.

The obvious choice for everyone to eliminate was LA Current, where Ryan Murphy, even in his first match since the Tokyo Olympics, would likely dominate and Jackpot a lot of points. If the teams’ secondary goal was to limit the options of London, the team scoring leaders after day 1, then they were successful in that. There is no obvious giant Jackpot candidate in the men’s 50 fly skins, meaning that teams won’t have to worry about a massive swing at the end. Tom Shields of LA Current is the favorite after a clean three-round skins sweep in Match #8 and a win in the 100 fly on Saturday.

Women’s Skins

Aqua – no choice
Toronto eliminates butterfly
LA eliminates backstroke
London chooses breaststroke over freestyle

With Arianna Castiglioni apparently out for Aqua Centurions, London have the best sprint breaststroker remaining in this field. Alia Atkinson is the World Record holder in the event, and while she’s not on that form, she was second in the individual event. That was behind Imogen Clark of LA Current, a true speed-burner who went a lifetime best of 29.32 in the individual race.

London did have the choice of freestyle, where the Olympic champion Emma McKeon is on their roster. She was just 3rd in the individual event, and has a lot of races yet to swim. With the drop-dead short course sprinters Wasick, Weitzeil, and Kameneva lurking, that probably felt dangerous,

The women’s skins race has been breaststroke only once this season – in Match #11, the “Match of Death,” and none of these teams participated.

TEAM RACE

London Roar enters the 2nd day of the match in a favorable position, having established a 34.5-point lead following day 1. London was a perfect 4-for-4 on relays today, racking up an astonishing 132 points just off their relay performances. Additionally, Emma McKeon, Annie Lazor, Sydney Pickrem, and Kira Toussaint each provided individual wins to help their team secure the lead.

On the other side of things, Aqua Centurions enter day 2 in dire straits, sitting in 4th by a massive 93.5-point margin. It will be incredibly different for AQUA to rise out of last place in this match. While AQUA was down on their luck today, the battle between London, LA Current, and Toronto Titans is still very much alive, as the teams are only separated by 49 points halfway through the match.

In fact, this is one of the most competitive match we’ve seen yet this ISL season. The gap between 1st and 2nd through day 1 (34.5 points) isn’t the smallest we’ve seen this year, though it’s still a tighter margin than most of this season’s matches. However, the 49 points separating 1st and 3rd in this match is the 2nd-smallest gap we’ve seen between 1st and 3rd this season. For further context, the gap between 1st and 3rd at this point of the 1st playoff match earlier this weekend was 108 points, more than double the margin in this match.

Team Scores After Day 1

London Roar – 280.5
LA Current – 246.0
Toronto Titans – 231.5
Aqua Centurions – 138.0

Quick Hits

Toronto Titans 15-year-old Summer McIntosh didn’t skip a beat after leaving early in the regular season to begin the school year. The rising star nearly downed her own Canadian Record in the women’s 400 free today, swimming a 3:59.30 to win the race handily.
London was able to pick up the most points in the men’s 400 free today, despite coming in 5th and 7th. Duncan Scott got out to the early lead, flipping 1st at the 200m mark. Thanks to his early speed, Duncan earned 16 points with the race, even though he ultimately finished in 5th place.
Sydney Pickrem picked up a win for London in the women’s 200 IM. Pickrem has steadily improved in the  200 IM throughout the regular season, placing 8th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st, respectively at 4 straight matches.

Originally posted on SwimSwam.com. Click here to Read More.

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