2021 ISL Season 3 Semifinals, Match 1 Preview: Energy & Cali Meet at Last

Thursday, November 11th – Friday, November 12th
8:00 pm – 10:00 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: Energy Standard, Cali Condors, DC Trident, Iron
Omega Live Results

As the first match of the highly-anticipated 2021 ISL play-offs draw closer, we are hearing murmurs that some high-profile athletes may not be competing. Olympic champions Florent Manaudou of Energy Standard and Katinka Hosszu of Iron are two of the most notable absences. While Manaudou is out for all of the play-offs, we might have confidence in Hosszu’s return once Hungarian Nationals wrap on November 14th. Hosszu missed the entire regular season in Naples and Iron is currently ranked 8th in the league after securing their ticket to Eindhoven by way of a 2nd-place finish at the “play-in” match in Naples–a contest between the bottom-4 teams that would allow the top-2 finishers from there advance.

Energy Standard will be without another of its major stars, sprint specialist Chad le Clos, for the opening match of the playoffs. Le Clos’ absence is offset by the absence of Caeleb Dressel on the Cali Condors’ lineup for Match 1 of the 2021 playoffs as well. Both are expected to swim in Eindhoven in upcoming matches.

The DC Trident has lost Jacob Pebley and Zach Apple for the playoffs. Pebley was one of DC’s most valuable athletes in the regular season and his absence will be felt in the men’s backstrokes.

Regarding the first play-off match itself, Match 12, Season 1 champions Energy Standard square off with Season 2 champions the Cali Condors. Neither team has faced one another yet this season. The DC Trident and Iron will also be joining them in Match 12. The DC Trident boasts a roster strong in middle-distance swimmers with a few very strong sprinters. The middle-distance events were the kryptonite of the Cali Condors in the regular season, a fact that bodes well for Energy Standard, who needs Cali to get beaten by wide margins in the 200s and 400s in order to build a comfortable lead. Iron, meanwhile, has some of the best sprinters in the world, though so do Energy and Cali. Iron’s strong sprint crew, however, puts them at an advantage over DC in the 50s and 100s.


Match 1 – November 11-12: #1 Energy Standard, #2 Cali Condors, #7 DC Trident, #8 Iron
Match 2 – November 13-14 #3 London Roar, #4 Toronto Titans, #5 LA Current,  #6 Aqua Centurion
Match 3 – November 18-19 – #1 Energy Standard, #4 Toronto Titans, #6 Aqua Centurions, #7 DC Trident
Match 4 – November 20-21 – #2 Cali Condors, #3 London Roar, #5 LA Current, #8 Iron
Match 5 – November 25-26 – #1 Energy Standard, #3 London Roar, #5 LA Current, #7 DC Trident
Match 6 – November 27-28 – #2 Cali Condors, #4 Toronto Titans, #6 Aqua Centurions, #8 Iron

ISL Play-Off Match 1 Rosters:


Energy Standard brings in one of the most robust butterfly crews in the league this season and will be formidable against any team in the play-offs. In the absence of le Clos, Energy Standard’s male fly crew is led by Andrey Zhilkin, Kregor Zirk, and James Guy. Guy is a threat across all distances of butterfly and a vital component to the relays, while Zhilkin compliments the 50 and Zirk the 100 and 200. Anastasiya Shkurdai and Maddie Banic lead the charge on the women’s side for Energy Standard, with Helena Bach Rosendahl and Mary-Sophie Harvey also capable of stepping in and putting points on the board, regardless of who else is in the field.

The Cali Condors bring in juggernauts Eddie Wang, Kelsi Dahlia, Erika Brown, Hali Flickinger, and Beata Nelson, who cover all of the bases in fly. Coleman Stewart, and Katerine Savard are two more who can swim some incredible butterfly when called upon, though we’re more likely to see Savard swim the 100 fly before Stewart in Eindhoven. Dressel’s absence will be felt in the 50 and 100 fly, though perhaps Coach Jeff Julian will insert Stewart or Marcin Cieslak in either race.

Iron brings in co-World Record holder in the 50 fly Nicholas Santos, as well as other sprint-specialists Thom de Boer, Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Emilie Beckmann,  and Maria Ugolkova. Santos, de Boer, Kromowidjojo, and Beckmann are particularly strong in the 50 fly, with Santos and Ugolkova are also capable of producing a solid 100. Alys Thomas, Luiz Altamir Melo, and Mikhail Vekovishchev are all strong in the 200 fly as well and could put solid points on the board in that event.

The DC Trident might have the most butterfly specialists of these four teams, though they’re in for an uphill battle nonetheless. Zach Harting, Andreas Vazaios, and Szuszanna Jakabos will hit the Condors hard in the 200 fly–though it would not be a surprise to see Dahlia steal the show in the 200. Harting has also shown great improvement in the 100 fly this season, though it would be a major upset to see him get his hands on the wall first in that event. Vazaios could also swim the 100 fly, or no butterfly at all as he is also needed in the IMs, possibly the backstroke, and on relays. Recent NCAA alumni Ryan Hoffer and Camden Murphy are great 50 and 100 flyers, with Murphy able to swim up to the 200, though so far with meager results in this 2021 season. Linnea Mack and Ting Wen Quah are versatile sprinters who could put points on the board in the 50 fly as well, if called upon. Aleksandr Shchegolev, Velimir Stjepanovic, Mark Nikolaev, and Klaudia Nazieblo represent the supporting cast in the butterfly discipline and all of them proved their worth in Naples.

Edge: Cali Condors (women), Energy Standard (men)


Energy Standard is perhaps the most dominant team on paper in men’s backstroke this season, thanks largely to Russian duo Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov. Each man is capable of swimming (and winning) the 50, 100, and 200 against world-class fields, with Rylov having a major edge in the 50 backstroke swims. When Kolesnikov gets called up to swim freestyle, however, Travis Mahoney can step in and rake in decent points, particularly in the 200. On the women’s side, Mary-Sophie Harvey, one of Energy’s most versatile swimmers, leads the charge. Georgia Davies, Viktoriya Gunes, Simona Kubova, and Anastasiya Shkurdai complete the backstroke roster for Energy. That’s a lot of names to follow Harvey, but the truth is, based on what we saw in Naples, Harvey is far-and-away Energy’s best bet for top-3 finishes in the backstroke events this season. Though all have impressive resumes, none have been as consistent as Harvey and will need to step it up in Eindhoven to give Energy’s female backstroke squad a chance.

The Cali Condors have a much smaller backstroke roster, but it is lethal. Coleman Stewart and Justin Ress are major assets in the 50 and 100 backstrokes, with Stewart able to swim up to the 200 at a world-class level, though that’s where Cali falls off. Brodie Williams is Cali’s go-to male 200 backstroker this season, though he has yet to win an ISL race. On the women’s side, Olivia Smoliga, Beata Nelson, Sherridon Dressel, and Erika Brown cover all the bases. Nelson is nigh-unstoppable in short course, and Smoliga is the 3rd-fastest performer ever in the 100 SCM backstroke. Dressel and Brown, meanwhile, are lethal in the 50 and 100 backstrokes.

Iron’s backstroke crew is also small but lethal, consisting of Robert Glinta, Guilherme Basseto, Lorenzo Mora, Ingeborg Loyning, Africa Zamorano, and Silvia Scalia. Glinta was a major asset to the team in Naples, and Mora has really come on recently, having just lowered the Italian National Record in the 200 SCM backstroke at the European Championships in Kazan. The women’s backstroke roster will have a much tougher go for Iron, though Loyning has shown a lot of promise this season, lowering the Norwegian National Record in the 200 backstroke multiple times in Naples.

Finally, the DC Trident brings in Mark Nikolaev, Andreas Vazaios, Ali DeLoof, Isabella Hindley, Linnea Mack, Zsuzsanna Jakabos. DeLoof and Mack were highly-successful in Naples, pulling their names higher among the USA’s top female backstroke performers of all-time. Hindley and Jackabos, meanwhile, play supporting roles and should always be viewed as threats to put points on the board. Nikolaev did well in the regular season, though he played second fiddle to Pebley, but now in Eindhoven he is going to have a lot more responsibility to place well in the backstrokes. Vazaios is also a very capable backstroker, though he also swims IM and fly. However, in Pebley’s absence, he may swim more backstroke in Eindhoven.

Edge: Cali Condors (women), Energy Standard (men)


Energy Standard is, on paper, the team to beat in both men’s and women’s breaststrokes. Ilya Shymanovich recently tied the World Record in the 50 breaststroke and is the World Record holder in the 100 breaststroke. Felipe Lima and Charlie Swanson aren’t as strong as Shymanovich, but with a swimmer as dominant as Shymanovich, who has the potential to incur massive jackpots, it doesn’t really matter. On the women’s side, Evgenia Chikunova, was a breakout star in Naples, while Benedetta Pilato and Jessica Vall fell short. Even so, Pilato is a World Record holder in long course and was highly-successful during the 2020 ISL season.

The Cali Condors could, perhaps, boast a more successful women’s breaststroke crew than Energy, thanks to Lilly King, Emily Escobedo, and Molly Hannis. All have had incredible ISL careers and the King-Hannis duo is one of the most potent in the ISL in terms of the 50 skins. Nic Fink, Kevin Cordes, and Oleg Kostin bring up the men’s side, with Fink representing the greatest upside for the ‘Dors, though Kostin proved his mettle in Naples.

In Naples, Erik Persson was Iron’s top breaststroke swimmer, despite the fantastic breakout season Emre Sakci had in 2020. Sacki reasserted his dominance in the breaststroke sprints during the recent European Championships though and should be viewed as a major threat once again in Eindhoven. Bernhard Reitshammer was solid in Naples and a key component of Iron’s team, though if Sakci maintains his current form he may see fewer races in the weeks ahead. On the women’s side, Ida Hulkko and Jenna Strauch are left to pull the weight all themselves. Both did well in Naples though neither really turned heads–women’s breaststroke could be a chink in Iron’s armor in the play-off.

The DC Trident boast heavy-hitters Cody Miller, Felipe Franca Silva, and Tommy Cope on the men’s side, and Maria Temnikova and Tatiana Belonogoff on the women’s side. Miller and Franca Silva are both capable of winning either the 50, 100, or 200 breaststrokes betweenthem… if Shymanovich weren’t involved. Meanwhile, Belonogoff did well in Naples though she’ll be hard-pressed to get past the titans on Cali and Energy.

Edge: Cali Condors (women), Energy Standard (men)


Energy Standard brings in some of the best sprinters in the ISL with Ben Proud, Kliment Kolesnikov, Clement Mignon, Evgeny Rylov, as well as middle-distance aces James Guy and Kregor Zirk. Crucially, Zirk and Guy supply talent in the middle-distances races that the Cali Condors have not been able to match thus far in 2021.  On the women’s side, Siobhan Haughey, Sarah Sjostrom, Femke Heemskerk, Fanny Teijonsalo, Maddie Banic, Anastasia Shkurdai, Helena Bach Rosendahl, and Mary-Sophie Harvey cover all the bases. Certainly, Haughey can swim everything from the 50 to the 400. Sjostrom, Heemskerk, and Banic are also among the best sprinter in the ISL at this point.

The Cali Condors bring in Justin Ress, Erika Brown, Olivia Smoliga, Kelsi Dahlia, Natalie Hinds, and Townley Haas. This is a strong sprint crew, though Dressel’s absence won’t go unnoticed. Haas, who was more of a middle-distance specialist in his early career, will certainly swim the 200 free and potentially an occasional 400 freestyle while in Eindhoven. He is the American Record holder in the 200 SCM freestyle. Meanwhile, Khader Baqlah, Tom Peribonio, and Leoni Kullman make up the support crew, though the ‘Dors need to step up their middle-distance results or suffer major blows from Energy and DC. Hinds, Smoliga, and Brown are a strong sprint crew and already create 75% of what could be a winning 400 freestyle relay. All three of them won Olympic silver as part of Team USA’s 4 x 100 free relay in Tokyo this summer.

Iron has a robust sprint crew with Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Costanza Cocconcelli, Silvia Scalia, and Melanie Henique. Barbora Seemanova and Veronika Andusenko are solid middle-distance swimmers who complete Iron’s women’s freestyle roster. However, Kromowidjojo remains Iron’s best shot at a freestyle victory this week. On the men’s side, Marco Orsi, Thom de Boer, Andrej Barna, Matt Richards, Luiz Altamir Melo, Lorenzo Mora, and Mikhail Vekovishchev have their work cut out for them this week. Though they certainly cover all the bases, they would create an underdog victory by winning any of the four freestyle races.

The DC Trident brings in Anna Hopkin, Linnea Mack, Leah Neale, Annika Bruhn, and Madison Kennedy on the women’s side. Neale, Mack, and Hopkin were particularly impressive in Naples with Hopkin playing a vital role in the 200 and 400 as well as on the 400 freestyle relay. On the men’s side, Ryan Hoffer, Aleksander Shchegolev, Sergey Shevtsov, and Zane Grothe need to up their game from what we saw in Naples in order to give DC a chance in this discipline.

Edge: Energy Standard (women), Energy Standard (men)


Energy Standard has strong female IM’ers in Mary-Sophie Harvey, Viktoriya Gunes, and Helena Bach Rosendahl. We probably won’t see any of these women win an IM in this match, though multiple top-3 finishes would not be surprising. On the men’s side, Charlie Swanson, Maxim Stupin, Andrey Zhilkin, and Travis Mahoney make up Iron’s IM roster. The IM is probably Energy Standard’s weakest discipline though they’re not totally out of it in terms of scoring some points.

The Cali Condors are arguably the strongest IM crew in this match. Caeleb Dressel, Beata Nelson, Marcin Cieslak, Angel Martinez, and Mark Szaranek are among the best IM’ers in the league this season. Perhaps the Condors’ biggest drawback here is that Dressel and Nelson also specialize in other disciplines and therefore could be spread pretty thin if asked to swim one or two of the IMs in this first playoffs match. Tom Peribonio and Kathrin Demler play supporting roles though need to improve upon their regular season results to make any significant impact in the semifinals.

Iron will be strong in the 100 IM and formidable in the 200 IM–the 400 IM is going to be a challenge for them though. Leonardo Santos and Marco Orsi can crush a 100 IM, with Santos capable of a great 200 as well, though Erik Persson, a breaststroker, only swims the 400 IM as-needed, and did little damage in the race in Naples. As for the women, Maria Ugolkova, Africa Zamorano, and Constanza Cocconcelli struggled to put many points on the board in Naples in the IMs. Cocconcelli, at least, is fresh off a successful Italian National Championships, potentially giving her some momentum.

The DC Trident is pretty strong in the IM, thanks to Andreas Vazaios, Jay Litherland, Bailey Andison, Szuszanna Jakabos, and Klaudia Nazieblo. Vazaios and Andison could win either the 200 or 400 IMs in this match, as could Litherland, if he finds his form. This is a solid discipline for DC, but not their greatest, mostly because Vazaios, Jakabos, and Nazieblo will be needed in other events as well.

Edge: Energy Standard (women), Cali Condors (men)


The relays will be fascinating as ever, and Energy Standard will hurt without Manaudou, though they still have such depth in freestyle on both the men’s and women’s sides that they appear the team to beat. Granted, the Cali Condors have consistently been able to create some of the greatest medley relays in ISL history, particularly in the women’s 400 medley relay.

However, as relay victories are determined by total points scored, meaning the ‘B’ team needs to be especially strong to compliment the ‘A’ team, Energy Standard appears to have the best cards in the 3 relay races.

Edge: Energy Standard (women & men)

Projected Team


Energy Standard
Cali Condors
DC Trident

It’s a tough call, and only one of these teams, Energy Standard, has a perfect record in season 3. No doubt the Cali Condors will put up a massive fight, but Energy Standard appears to be too strong in areas where the Cali Condors struggle, particularly, middle-distance freestyle and IM. As for the relays, Cali and Energy will make for a slug fest between the two heavy-weight teams. Overall though, Energy Standard seems to have the upper-hand. In the battle for third, the DC Trident won their first-ever ISL match in Naples in Match 11, defeating Iron. Overall, DC’s roster seems stronger than Iron’s at this moment.

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

Scroll to Top