Seconds out, Round 2 for the International Swimming League as the show rolls into Naples this weekend. After last weekend’s opener in Indianapolis, the same four teams will battle it out for league points again this weekend. Here’s 4 things we learnt from last weekend to watch for this time round.
Tactical team changes to counter Energy
Energy Standard showed the way tactically on the first weekend, focussing their team line up on the sprint events and the skins, and came away as comfortable visitors in the end, by 82 points over Cali Condors. The return of Florent Manaudou to competition was a huge boost to their points total and added to their already stacked sprint resources.
This squad model was always likely to bear fruit, with the skins alone worth 27 and 21 points for the first two places home, and Energy were somewhat off the pace in the longer events as a consequence having put all their big guns out to maximise their impact. After all, while Sarah Sjoestroem was the MVP for her overall contribution, her victory in the skins secured the same number of points as Lily King’s clean sweep of the breaststroke events.
It will be interesting to see if the line ups of the other teams are tweaked by the coaches to reflect this or if they see an opportunity to counter Energy by putting a greater focus on the longer events and hitting them at their weak spot.
Dressel Launches his ISL season
One team change which should have a big impact on events is the addition of Caeleb Dressel to the Cali Condors line up. He’s one swimmer who could be expected to break the Energy stranglehold on the skins and would also expect to feature in the individual 50/100m butterfly and 100m free. He’ll also provide a significant boost to the Cali relays, events which are also worth double points.
It is though a team event, so the impact of a single swimmer shouldn’t be overstated, but Dressel could have a significant say on the outcome of this round; it’s easy to see how he could be the catalyst for a 30-point swing.
Pellegrini joins the party
Aqua Centurions had a sobering start to their ISL campaign, with a last place finish in Indianapolis, so they will be delighted to welcome Federica Pellegrini to their ranks for individual swims after a week of relays for what is notionally a home meet for them.
Pellegrini is unlikely to make quite such a direct impact as Dressel might, but could be expected to have a say in the 100 and 200 free, contribute again to the relays and, if she fancies it in the absence of Katie Ledecky the 400 free. Ariarne Titmus, if she is there, could still affect the decision to take on that race.
If nothing else, Pellegrini’s entrance could take the pressure of others and we might see more from Hannah Miley who had the heavy programme (even for her) of 200m and 400m of both freestyle and IM last weekend.
The money keeps on rolling
It’s all about points for your team but there is of course the small matter of the dollars to consider as well. Sjoestroem led the way in both points and money last weekend, with $13,500 in the bank, and the money continues to be on offer this weekend.
Let’s not forget that there is a FINA world cup going on this weekend in Berlin, an event where many of the swimmers racing in Naples might otherwise have been. Last year, leaving aside the series prize, the Swede took home between $12,000 and $25,000 per meet so her purse from last weekend is in the same ballpark, but apparently without any travel or hotel expenses to consider, and her team salary on top. In that context, you can see why swimmers are getting behind the ISL as a concept.
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