Sjostrom pips Dressel for first ISL MVP crown

Sarah Sjostrom dominated Cate Campbell in the final round of the freestyle skins race to lock up International Swimming League's first season Most Valuable Player award as the glitzy new series concluded on Saturday. The Swedish Olympian's storming finish helped boost her Energy Standard outfit to the team title in the fast-paced professional league, designed to shake up swimming and expand the profile of a sport whose biggest moments traditionally come at the Olympics and World Championship. And it saw her scoop the $50,000 season MVP with 243.5 points, just 3.5 points ahead of US star Caeleb Dressel. "I'm very happy I was able to take this title," said Sjostrom, who said the star-studded lineup and frantic all-finals format of the series made for a pressure-filled campaign. "I was racing some of my biggest competitors in almost every race I had," she said. "I'm not used to that tough racing that often so it was very good experience to race with that much pressure so often. "I felt like I was swimming the world championships four times this season." Sjostrom said the fact that ISL pitted men against women for the major season award was a drawing factor for her in an age when equality of pay in all walks of life, including sports, is a hot topic. "I think this is one of the best parts about the ISL that we race against the men," she said. Dressel, meanwhile, said he had no problem seeing a woman capture the crown. "I don't see that as any honor lost," he said. "Yeah I got beat by a girl today -- and I'm all right with that." Dressel, whose record eight medals at this year's world championships included six golds, won the men's skins race ahead of France's Florent Manaudou and locked up the meet MVP award, worth $10,000. Dressel, racing for Cali Condors, also won the 100m free and 50m fly on Saturday as he took his tally of individual wins this weekend to five. That included a 50m free triumph in which he broke Manaudou's short course world record on Friday. While Manaudou couldn't avenge the loss of his world record in the skins race, the French swimmer's runner-up finish put Energy Standard over the top for the team season prize ahead of the London Roar -- who had led the standings most of the day. The 14 men and 14 women of Energy Standard, who share a $100,000 team jackpot after their win at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, where they celebrated by plunging together into the event center pool after finishing with 453.5 points to the 444 of London Roar. Cali Condors were third and LA Current fourth. Japan's Daiya Seto, making his series debut this week for Energy Standard, proved a key addition for his new team. He followed up his world record 400m individual medley win with victories in the 200m IM and the 200m butterfly. London had surged to the top of the table with six race wins. That included Briton Adam Peaty's 100m breaststroke victory in a blistering 55.92sec and Aussie Emma McKeon's 100m free win over Sjostrom. - Resiliency - Energy Standard general manager James Gibson said the team recruited its swimmers with an eye toward the big points events of the skins races and relays, and that paid off. He noted that overall Energy Standard might not be the best on paper, but said his swimmers' resiliency was key. "If you look on paper we were not the strongest team," Gibson said. "We won when it mattered, the triple points, the skins and the relays. "Today we were 37 points behind at one point and we won." Manaudou said that's what made the ISL -- and sport in general -- so exciting. "This is why we are watching sport," he said. "There is a team on paper -- but it can be different in the water." Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden flies to the first season MVP title of the International Swimming League Team Energy Standard celebrates after winning the inaugural International Swimming League team title at the final at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas