Dylan Carter

FLASHBACK: File photo shows Trinidad and Tobago’s Dylan Carter competing in a heat for the men’s 100m backstroke event at the 2019 World

Championships at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju, South Korea.

—Photo: AFP

TOP Trinidad and Tobago swimmer Dylan Carter has focused on eking out more rest and mental fine-tuning heading into the Grande Finale of the International Swimming League (ISL) 2020 that splashes off today and tomorrow in Budapest, Hungary.

This year’s second annual five-week tournament culminates with this weekend’s final match at the bio-secure bubble of the Duna Arena (25m course).

Carter said he may have felt the strain of five straight weeks of competition in the ISL semi-final two that concluded last Sunday with his Los Angeles Current (LAC) following Cali Condors as the last two teams to qualify for the Finale. Defending champions Energy Standard (ES) and London Roar (LR) advanced out of semi-final one.

“This (last) weekend was sort of my weakest weekend so far, I would say personally, so in preparation for the Grande finale this weekend. I am just taking a lot of rest. I had a good conversation with my coach (US Olympic coach Dave marsh) and he advised when in doubt take more rest, err on the side of less rather than more this week,” the versatile 24-year-old swimmer said.

Carter reckoned that the five matches in five weeks had proven both physically and mentally challenging. So, the University of Southern California graduate will concentrate now on adjusting his race strategy, watching and analysing videos of his previous races, making small tweaks and maintaining a positive attitude.

At last year’s inaugural edition of the ISL, Carter and his LAC made it to the final but were fourth and last. Standard won followed by Roar and Condors in that order. The 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallist believes his team is an improved unit this season.

“Unfortunately, we thought we would be a lot better (last year) but I think the team is a bit stronger this year,” Carter said, “Personally I am a bigger player this year. I would like to see us move up into sort of the higher tiers of the final but it is going to be tough opposition, no doubt. There is some star-studded teams in there. Every team is good and the races in this finale are as stacked as any world championship final. Some are even more stacked.”

The quality of the races received an up-tick, Carter reasoned, because of because of the benefit of consistent racing leading into the final and the absence of a nationality cap (World Champs and Olympics limit federation to only two persons per event).

“So it is going to be a really fast final. I am super excited for it and I know the team is really excited and we are as ready as we ever been,” Carter assessed, “...I don t want to predict where we will finish because a lot of things are up in the air. It really depends on how we perform and how the rest of the teams perform on the day. If everything works well and the stars align, maybe we have a shot at winning it but we will have to see when the weekend comes. For now I am just preparing as best I can.”

While happy with his form this year, Carter was grateful to have the opportunity to ply his craft in this Covid-19 pandemic era heading into next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics

“I am really, really happy how my Olympic events came along this ISL season and Was definitely more of a player this year. I had a second place finish got a lot more individual points and was a lot more helpful on the relays. I was on relays A relays that won,” said Carter, adding, “so I think that I was in way better form...overall I am happy with it but we know we have one more meet to go and that is the important one but so far reflecting on the five meets in five weeks I think I am really happy with it.”

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