Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Energy Standard Is The First ISL Champions And Looks Ahead to 2020-2021

Posted on 22 December 2019 by Flavia Festa
Energy Standard celebrating the victory of inagural ISL. Photo Credit: ISL
Energy Standard celebrating the victory of inagural ISL. Photo Credit: ISL

Energy Standard is the first champions of the International Swimming League. In the Las Vegas Grand Finale, the performances of Daiya Seto in the individual races and the win of the 4×100 freestyle relay made possible the comeback. Sarah Sjostrom and Florent Manaudou completed it with their first and second places in the skin races, respectively.

As ISL 2019 comes to an end and the swimmers will now go back to train in the long course to be ready in the spring when most of the athletes will be looking make qualifying times to book a flight to Tokyo.

But what will happen to ISL next season?

The debut season of ISL was better than expected with the most prestigious international athletes taking part and pushing for its success.

“The first step is to expand ISL because seven matches are not enough and eight clubs are not enough,” Konstantin Grigorishin, founder and president of International Swimming club Energy Standard said ahead of the ISL London meet in November.

“Next season we are planning to organize 27 matches for ten clubs. The season will start in the middle of September and will finish at the beginning of April and each club will participate in ten-to-twelve matches.”

At the end of the Las Vegas Grand Finale, ISL announced the two teams that will join the competition next year. The names of the teams are not known yet, but it is known that four-time Olympic Champion Kosuke Kitajima will lead the Tokyo-based team for next season while Robert Kent will lead the Toronto-based one.

ISL announces new two teams for season 2020-2021. Photo Credit: ISL
ISL announces new two teams for season 2020-2021. Photo Credit: ISL

In this way, the ISL allows the athletes to compete with the best swimmers in the world during the entire season and not only during the summer when historically the most significant international competitions have taken place.

“It will be a much bigger competition, but I think we need it because if you want to have more exposure and be on the screen, we have to compete more often. Maybe we can extend to more clubs but I don’t think we can have more than 12 clubs in the next few years because we don’t have too many high-level swimmers,” added Grigorishin.

Most of the athletes competing in the ISL enjoyed the competition set up and the innovation that it brought to the sport. Many of them, including Sarah Sjostrom, Chad Le Clos, Guillherme Guido, Katinka Hosszu and Fabio Scozzoli highlighted the importance of the team aspect of this new format. They also emphasized how the team’s support helps them during the race as they don’t want to disappoint their teammates and try to bring home the best result possible.

“I think ISL is amazing because we can race in one night 4-5 times against the best swimmers in the world. Next year and the year after that is going to be a full year so it is amazing to be racing the whole year with the best swimmers in the world,” Florent Manaudou said at the end of the ISL London meet.

As the new season approaches, the teams’ managers are looking to the other athletes that can improve the quality of their teams so to be more competitive next season. There are already some ideas and when the time for transfers come, the teams will compete to get the best swimmers on the roster of next season.

“We have a big gap with the best teams right now in some of the races,” Matteo Giunta, Aqua Centurions manager said at the end of the ISL London meet. “If the format stays the same, it is essential to be competitive in the relays and the skin races because that’s where you can gain a lot of points and make the difference.”

The focus of the next few months will be on Tokyo for the majority of the athletes and the coaches, but a new era for swimming has started. More international competitions are on the calendar next year, Turkey-based team Energy Standard will try to defend the title while the rest of the competitors will try to close the gap and fight to become next ISL champions.