By Sharon Robb
BUDAPEST, Hungary, November 22, 2020–The Cali Condors dethroned defending champion Energy Standard to win the International Swimming League Championship Sunday at Duna Arena.
The Cali Condors, led by MVP Caeleb Dressel, won with 561.5 points. Energy Standard was second with 464.5 followed by London Roar with 391.0 and LA Current with 298.0. Last season the Cali Condors finished third behind Energy Standard and London Roar.
The Cali Condors are the first club in the league’s two-year history to finish a season undefeated.
On the final day, Dressel, 24, broke another world record, this time in the 100-meter individual medley in 49.28 for the second time this season. He took nearly a second off his old world record. Cali Condors teammate Marcin Cieslak was second in 51.17.
Dressel finished with 96 points for match MVP honors and 463.5 points as season MVP.
Brit Adam Peaty of London Roar broke his own world record in the 100-meter breaststroke in 55.41. His previous record was 55.49.
“It feels like every race is a world championship or an Olympic final, it’s incredible,” said London Roar general manager Rob Woodhouse. “Seeing all these world records is just amazing.”
South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson of London Roar finished with a silver medal in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:03.56 behind Lilly King who broke the American record in 1:02.50. King is now third on the all-time list behind world record holders Ruta Meilutyte and Atkinson, both with times of 1:02.36.
King now holds the 50 and 100 breaststroke American record in both short course and long course.
In the women’s 50-meter breaststroke skins event, King won Round One in 28.96 and Atkinson was fourth in 29.58. In Round 2, King won in 29.22 and Atkinson was third in 29.68 and in Round 3, King won in 29.14 and Molly Hannis was second in 30.04. King finished as match MVP runner-up with 71 points Dressel. It was the fifth breaststroke skins win of the season for King.
In other notable races:
LA Current’s Beryl Gastaldello won the 100-meter freestyle in 51.38, just out-touching Energy Standard’s Siobhan Haughey, second in 51.40. Gastaldello also won the 100 individual medley in 57.30.
Dressel also won the 100-meter freestyle in an American record 45.08 ahead of Florent Manaudou of Energy Standard in 46.07. Later in the day, Dressel won the 50-meter butterfly in 22.09 ahead of Tom Shields in 22.32.
Cali Condors finished one-two in the 200-meter butterfly with Hali Flickinger first in 2:03.35 and Kelsi Worrell Dahlia in 2:05.39.
Chad le Clos of Energy Standard knocked off Tom Shields of LA Current in the 200-meter butterfly, 1:48.57-1:48.66. Shields broke his own American record of 1:49.02 and is the first American male swimmer to dip under 1:49.
Olivia Smoliga of Cali Condors won the 100-meter backstroke in an American record 55.04 ahead of Kira Toussaint of London Roar in 55.94.
Kliment Kolesnikov of Energy Standard won the 100-meter backstroke in 48.82 ahead of LA Current’s Ryan Murphy in 49.29. American Heritage alum Dylan Carter of LA Current was fourth in 49.91.
Siobhan Haughey of Energy Standard won the 200-meter freestyle in 1:51.11, just ahead of Freya Anderson of London Roar in 1:51.87 and Allison Schmitt of Cali Condors in 1:52.17. Haughey finished nine-for-nine in the 200 freestyle.
Brit Duncan Scott of Lond Roar won the 200-meter freestyle in a national record 1:40.25. Cali Condors’ Townley Haas was second in 1:40.49, breaking the oldest American record set by Ryan Lochte in 2010. Scott also won the 400 IM in 3:59.83.
Sarah Sjostrom of Energy Standard won the 50-meter butterfly in 24.73.
Energy Standard won the 4×100 mixed freestyle relay in 3:14.21 with Evgeny Rylov, Florent Manaudou, Sarah Sjostrom and Siobhan Haughey ahead of the Cali Condors in 3:14.72 with Caeleb Dressel, Justin Ress, Olivia Smoliga and Erika Brown.
Sydney Pickrem of London Roar won the 400-meter individual medley in 4:24.84 and Flickinger was second in 4:25.50.
In the men’s 50-meter breaststroke, Peaty won Round One in 25.41; Ilya Shymanovich won Round Two in 25.80 and Peaty came back to win the final round in 26.10.
The pro teams, featuring many of the top swimmers in the world, had raced in a protective bubble since October 16 with regular tests for coronavirus. There were no COVID-19 positive tests results during that time.
With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics moved to next year (July 23-August 8), and so many other competitions cancelled around the world because of the pandemic, the ISL gave more than 300 swimmers a focus and chance to get up and race while making a paycheck.
“It’s been such a fun time, this whole bubble,” said Dressel, a Clay High, Bolles Club and Florida alum. “This is the most fun I’ve ever had swimming in my life. To have that for six weeks is truly special.”
The ISL, created by Ukrainian billionaire Konstantin Grigorishin, who invested $25 million in the bubble setting with $11 million earmarked for swimmer stipends and prize money, gained more stature in his second year of existence. Grigorishin said the swimmers are taking the ISL seriously now. He hopes to break even in 2022.
“I think everyone kind of thought of it as an anomaly last year, like a new spring football league,” swimming broadcaster Rowdy Gaines said during an interview. “That’s not what it is. It’s not going away.”
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com