LAS VEGAS (AP) — Sarah Sjostrom earned season MVP honors and her Energy Standard team won the grand finale of the International Swimming League on Saturday.
The Swedish swimmer received $50,000 in edging out American star Caeleb Dressel by 3 1/2 points. He was named MVP of the two-day grand finale in Las Vegas, a prize worth $10,000 in the league that features men and women competing equally.
“I got beat by a girl today and I'm all right with that," a smiling Dressel said. “I don't see that as any honor lost. I get beat by girls all the time in practice. We're all in the same sport together."
Sjostrom totaled 243.5 points to 240 for Dressel, who swam for Cali Condors. Aussie Emma McKeon of London Roar was third at 192.
“This is one of the best parts of the ISL," Sjostrom said. “I finally got the chance to race against men."
Sjostrom and her Europe-based team comprised of 14 men and 14 women split $100,000. They celebrated by chanting “Energy! Energy!" before jumping into the 25-meter temporary pool inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center on the Strip and later hoisting the heavy trophy.
Energy Standard rallied to win after London Roar led for most of the final day. Energy Standard totaled 453.5 points to 444 for London Roar.
Energy Standard won the mixed 4x100 freestyle relay, anchored by Canadian Penny Oleksiak, who outlasted Aussie Emma McKeon of London Roar on the final lap to pick up crucial points after being down 37 earlier in the session.
“On paper we were not the strongest team. We won when it mattered," Energy Standard general manager James Gibson said. “We're got swimmers on the team that probably aren't household names and they were out there scrapping."
Cali Condors took third in the team standings at 415.5, followed by LA Current at 318 in front of a larger crowd in the 3,800-capacity arena than for Friday's session.
It all came down to the last two races: the women's and men's 50 free skins, a three-round showdown. Four of the eight swimmers in the finals were eliminated after the first race. Two more were cut after the second race, leaving the top two to duel it out.
For the women, that was Sjostrom and Aussie Cate Campbell of London Roar.
Sjostrom led all the way and finished first in 24.32 seconds. Campbell touched in 25.63. Sjostrom's victory was worth triple points, leaving them trailing London Roar by 15 1/2 points going into the men's skins.
“I was racing some of my biggest competitors in almost every race I had," Sjostom said. “I'm not used to that top racing so often. I felt like i was swimming the world championships four times this season."
The men's 50 free pitted Dressel against Frenchman Florent Manaudou of Energy Standard. Dressel won easily in 21.46 to 23.83 for Manaudou. A day earlier, Dressel had erased Manaudou's short-course world record in the same event.
“Maybe in the future they will do four rounds in the skins and I can race against Flo," Sjostrom said.