The NBA and WNBA recently completed their 2020 seasons in isolated bubbles in Florida to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and protect the health of the players, coaches and league officials.
The International Swimming League is organizing a bubble of their own to conduct their second season. The 10-team, professional swimming league will be hosting more than 350 athletes on a 238-acre island in the middle of the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary for six weeks.
Avon native Madison Kennedy is swimming with the Washington, D.C.-based D.C. Trident team for the second straight season and is the captain of the Trident’s women’s squad. Each team consists of 16 men and 16 women with 12 men and 12 women selected to compete in the four-team meets.
Each participant had to test negative to COVID-19 before entering the bubble in Budapest and then quarantine for two days before entering the swimming community.
D.C. Trident opened their season on Sunday at Duna Arena with the first day of a two-day meet with London Roar, the Rome-based Aqua Centurions and the host team Team Iron from Hungary. Kennedy, a sprint specialist who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, swam in the 50-meter freestyle and finished fifth with a time of 24.57 seconds to earn four points for the Trident.
Day two swimming begins at 10 a.m. live on CBSN. London Roar, which finished second a year ago, has a commanding 294-197 lead over Aqua Centurions. D.C. Trident is currently fourth with 181 points.
Swimmers earn points for their teams based upon their finish in individual races with nine points for the winner, seven for second and 6-5-4-3-2-1 for the final six spots, respectively. However, if a swimmer is more than two seconds behind the race winner, their points go to the winner. Team score is the combined points earned by the men and women.
The ISL will be spending six weeks in Budapest to conduct the 2020 season. The top eight teams advance to the two semifinals meets on Nov. 14-15 and Nov. 16-17 with and the top four teams advancing to the league championship finals on Nov. 21-22.
Kennedy is thrilled to get a chance to swim against some of the best swimmers in the world especially after most competition has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am excited about it,” Kennedy said. “Everyone is excited to race and be with each other. We took that for granted.”
“It’s wild we get the opportunity to do this,” she said. “We are very lucky to be able to do this.”
Kennedy, 33, said the toughest part will be spending six weeks away from her husband, Eric Lane, who has been named the interim head coach at SwimMac Carolina. The club was the reason that Kennedy relocated to Charlotte in 2014. When head coach David Marsh left the club in 2017, Kennedy began to coach herself.
Lane has always been Kennedy’s strength and conditioning coach. But in the last year, he has been writing workouts for her as she prepared for the 2020 ISL campaign.
A year ago, Kennedy was used primarily in the 50 freestyle and in the 50-meter freestyle skins events – a quick three-race sequence that begins with eight swimmers. The top four swimmers move onto the semifinals and the top two go head-to-head for the title.
But this year, she wants to be more helpful and faster in the 100 freestyle and the relay races for the Trident.
“He has a real good idea of what I need,” she said. “He is helping me build and focus in certain areas. He is much more of a coach now.”
The condensed five-week season gives Kennedy an opportunity to keep her Olympic dreams alive. She was third in the 50 freestyle at the 2016 U.S. Olympic trials, just 0.15 of a second out of second place and a berth on the team. She qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic trials in June that were postponed due to the COVID-19 virus.
“Why not?” she said. “I like to compete. I like to race. I like to travel. I like to be in the world. It’s an experience I haven’t had the chance to experience yet so it will always be something on my radar. If the opportunity is there, if I make the (U.S. team) and I can compete, hell ya.”
The U.S. Olympic trials have been moved to June 13-20, 2021 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Kennedy graduated from Avon High in 2005 and the University of California-Berkeley in 2010. She swam at Avon High and set several team records that still stand today. She has lived and trained in Charlotte since 2011.
2020 International Swimming League
|Cali Condors (San Francisco)||3-0||4||567|
|Energy Standard (Paris)||2-1||3||463|
|Aqua Centurions (Rome)||0-0||0||0|
|Team Iron (Hungary)||0-0||0||0|
Points: One point for each team beaten and one point for participating in a meet
Meet 1: October 16-17
Calf Condors (San Francisco) 567, Energy Standard 463, L.A. Current 420, New York Breakers 266
Meet 2: October 18-19
London vs. D.C. Trident, Aqua Centurions, Team Iron
Aqua Centurions, Toyoko, Los Angeles vs. Toronto
D.C. Trident vs. Team Iron, Cali Condors and New York
Remaining D.C. Trident meets
D.C. Trident vs. Team Iron, Cali Condors and New York Breakers – Oct. 26 (noon-2 p.m., CBSN); Oct. 26 (Noon-2 p.m., CBSN)
D.C. Trident vs. London Roar, Los Angeles Current, Tokyo Frog Kings – Oct. 30 (noon-2 p.m., CBSN), Oct. 31 (noon-2 p.m., CBSN)
D.C. Trident vs. Energy Standard, Toronto Titans, Team Iron – Nov. 5 (4-6 a.m., CBS All Access); Nov. 6 (4-6 a.m., CBS All-Access)