After the first four teams kicked off the International Swimming League ISL, the other four squads got into action in Lewisville. London Roar take the lead on day one ahead of the LA Current.
LEWISVILLE – When Ryan Murphy first saw these spacesuit-like overalls that all the ISL swimmers get to wear he thought: What the heck are they thinking? Then the three-time olympic champion saw how much attention the new International Swimming League (ISL) got because of this idea on social media. And now the backstroke ace of the LA Current is sure: The suits sum up what the ISL is about: “It really just embodies what this league is: It's flashy, it's unique, it's thinking differently and learning how to embrace that.”
Lewisville, although already the third stop of the ISL, provided an exciting first time experience for Murphy as well as for half of the league's teams. The athletes of the LA Current, Iron, London Roar and the NY Breakers had to wait their turn, since it was Energy Standard, Cali Condors, DC Trident and the Aqua Centurions who kicked of the ISL in Indianapolis and Naples. And they where very eager to finally be part of the inaugural season, too.
“What ISL is doing in evolving the sport is incredible. And now being able to race and witness it first hand is awesome”, Michael Andrew said. “There is so much more excitement, so much hype.” The captain of the NY Breakers is sure: “Swimming will never be the same.”
“It was even more fun than I expected, a lot of energy, it was much different from going to a swim meet and swim your events and that's it”, said three-time Olympic Champion and Iron team captain Katinka Hosszu.
Her fellow swimmers know all to well what Hosszu is talking about. “Swimming can be a little bit monotonous. It's very steeped in tradition and has not really changed or progressed a lot since its infancy, really", Cate Campbell saif. "So to have someone rethink the way a swim meet looks and feels is a really exciting change for us”, the world record holder, who won the 50 freestyle (23.33 seconds) for the London Roar, added: “The ISL is very much geared towards being a spectacle and putting on a show and making it entertaining.”
Campbell's London Roar had a great start into the ISL, with at some point finishing first in six races back-to-back and also winning two of three double-point relays. Going head-to-head with the London Roar (253 points) was the LA Current (234), who sit second after the first of two days, followed by Iron (186) and the NY Breakers (131).
Campbell is the Londons Roars not so secret weapon when it comes to the skins in the 50 freestyle, events which quickly became an ISL highlight for fans and teams alike. Fans get entertained by the series of back-to-back races on a knockout basis with the two remaining swimmers facing each other in a head-to-head showdown. And since the skins are a triple-point event, the outcome may as well tip the whole meet in favor of a certain team.
Campbell is looking forward to these final races of the meet on sunday, in which she will face world record holder Ranomi Kromowidjojo (Iron), Olympic Champion Pernille Blume (NY Breakers), as well as sister and teammate Bronte Campbell: “The Skins event is definitely the blue ribbon event, it's the pet event that everyone wants to watch. It's so cutthroat. I watched a couple of the other Skins events and know that it's going to be very tough. But it makes for great entertainment.”
The International Swimming League is a global professional swimming competition launching in 2019 with teams in both Europe (Italy-based Aqua Centurions, France-based Energy Standard, Hungary-based Iron, and London Roar) and the United States (Cali Condors, DC Trident, LA Current, NY Breakers). The inaugural season will include matches in Indianapolis IN, Naples ITA, Lewisville TX, Budapest HUN, College Park MD, London GBR, and the championship finale at the 12,000-seat Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV. The ISL aims to create groundbreaking projects, in both form and content, exploring the full potential of competitive swimming while securing sustainable commercial growth in the sport.