(CBS Local)- The 2020 International Swimming League finals are set to air live this Saturday and Sunday on CBS Sports Network. Four teams are competing for the title, including a pair of U.S. squads, as the Cali Condors, LA Current, London Roar and Energy Standard meet to decide who will be crowned champions for 2020. In addition to the team title, the Season MVP award is on the line, with Americans Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Murphy and Lilly King all in the hunt.
Prior to the finals showdown, Dressel and King, teammates on the Cali Condors, sat down with DJ Sixsmith to discuss the season inside the bubble, the finals and more.
The 2020 ISL season has taken place completely in a bubble in Budapest, Hungary in order to maintain safety for the athletes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Though it took some getting used to at first being in a bubble, King says the pool is one of the best she’s been in.
“This is one of my favorite pools to swim at personally. It’s just a fantastic facility, and like Caeleb said, being in the bubble has actually been pretty nice, because we haven’t really had to worry about our general health too much,” said King. “It’s just been a really great situation, and we’re lucky to be here.”
Aside from the facilities, the simple fact that the league has been able to provide competition for these athletes in a year in which there aren’t other international competitions going has been important.
“I’ve been very fortunate with this whole ISL thing working out, because with what Lilly said, I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to be gone for six weeks, with how rocky this year has gone so far, just with all of the inconsistencies with COVID hitting. But, once I decided to go, I was all in, and now that I’m here, I couldn’t imagine missing out on this,” said Dressel. “It’s been so great just the instant feedback from meet to meet. The notes I’ve taken, my swim journal, life journal. I’ve asked Lilly questions, because I got thrown into breastroke skins here. I’ve had to take advice wherever I can get it from. But, just to have so many elite swimmers in one location, no matter where you look, you’re going to be able to improve your swim career if you just keep your eyes open and keep your mind open.”
That competition and improvement is all with the goal of being on the podium come the Olympic Games next summer in Tokyo. King and Dressel are both excited to represent the U.S. at the Games. The biggest question on the men’s side is what life will be like without Michael Phelps. But Dressel isn’t worried about picking up all of that burden by himself, he knows he has a great team around him.
“We have an extremely dominant men’s side. I want to do my part the best I can, fill some shoes where I can. But really, it’s not about comparing myself to other people. I just want to accomplish what I feel like I’m capable of doing, fulfilling what my potential is,” said Dressel. “Michael can’t swim forever unfortunately, he did his part of the sport. He’s the frontrunner, he’s the GOAT of the sport. I understand that, but there’s some things I personally want to accomplish. I want to do my part to represent the U.S. as best I can, fill some shoes where I can. But I think the weight falls on all of our shoulders.”
The U.S. team is a strong one, as are the Cali Condors, led by Dressel and King. They didn’t lose a match all season and head into the finals with plenty of confidence following their semifinals outing. The Grand Finals of the ISL will be televised live on CBS Sports Network on Saturday, November 21 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and on Sunday, November 22 from noon to 2 p.m. Eastern Time.