(CBS Local)- Like all athletes around the world, swimmers have had to adjust to a different schedule this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For those that were looking forward to competing in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, that was pushed back another year. In the meantime, many if not all international swimming competitions were cancelled with one notable exception: the International Swimming League.
In its second season, the ISL has gone to a bubble format with all 10 of its teams in two hotels in Budapest. It has been a successful endeavor with the league completing its regular season without a hitch. A pair of semfinals matches are on deck this weekend and Los Angeles Current general manager Lenny Krayzelburg has been impressed with the competition and says the excitement from the athletes competing has been noticeable.
"All of the athletes here are just fortunate and excited to be here. Obviously as an athlete and competitor, you live for competition. And for the last 7-8 months all of these athletes didn't have that opportunity. So, when everyone got here, they were just thankful to start racing again," said Krayzelburg in an interview with CBS Local's Ryan Mayer. "You could really tell. The first matches, the first races, people were swimming some really great times because they needed to get that energy out. And obviously people have settled in but for the most part have performed pretty consistently over the last couple months."
Krayzelburg says the league understood the importance of holding a season this year, particularly when there wouldn't be many other international competitions for athletes to compete in. As the now 2021 Tokyo Games draw nearer, the opportunity to get in the pool and compete against some of the best in the world has been priceless.
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"You can train all you want but it's not going to substitute for the ability to race and to race against the best in the world. This is what's happening for this period of six weeks where you are racing against the best in the world. You're basically racing 99 percent of those that you're going to have to race in Tokyo next summer," said Krayzelburg. "So, you're preparing through racing, through observing how your competitors are training, how they're eating, how they're living. If you're a smart athlete, it's not only about what you do in the water, but you're whole package of how you prepare yourself. How strong you are mentally. This is a great opportunity to play some mind games as well."
Krayzelburg's team has seen plenty of good results as well. The Current enter the semifinals fourth in the standings
following regular season action and have a pair of swimmers in contention for the season MVP trophy in USA's Ryan Murphy and France's Beryl Gastaldello. For the semifinals, the Current will be swimming against the undefeated Cali Condors, along with the Toronto Titans and Team Iron. Hoping for a top two spot in order to make the finals, Krayzelburg is confident in his team's performance.
"We have done enough evaluation where we can compare ourselves against the other three teams that we're swimming. Over the next few days, we're going to start working on our different lineup scenarios we're going to entertain depending on how the match goes. But we feel very confident," said Krayzelburg. "We're obviously our last match was very good and we played with some events putting different athletes in different events. We feel very confident that we're just starting to reach our potential."
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