Now that the regular season has wrapped up, the anticipation has started to build for the International Swimming League final in Las Vegas where the inaugural ISL champions will be crowned. However, there will be more than just the team title on the line.
The athletes will also be racing to become the first-ever Season MVP, and along with it a big cash prize, awarded to the swimmer who scores the most points for his or her team throughout the course of the season.
MVP scoring will function the same in the final match as it has throughout the season, with one wrinkle: points from the Las Vegas match will be weighted double toward the Season MVP award.
With six matches down, Energy Standard’s Sarah Sjostrom has built a sizeable league in the overall MVP race with 151.5 combined points, leading teammate Chad Le Clos (132) by 19.5. Sjostrom was the first ISL swimmer to win Match MVP at the league debut in Indianapolis, and she also finished second in the standings in her two other matches in Naples and London.
Le Clos, who is a co-captain of Energy Standard along with Sjostrom, had back-to-back third place finishes in the MVP race in Indy and Naples before pulling through with a win in London at the European derby. In order to bridge the gap up to Sjostrom, Le Clos would need a historic performance in Vegas, including probably an entry into the men’s skins event.
The skins, a three-round 50 freestyle eliminator worth up to triple points, are extremely valuable in determining MVP, and Le Clos hasn’t been racing the event with Energy Standard having sprint free studs Florent Manaudou and Ben Proud doing so. It’s also a scheduling conflict for Le Clos, who races the 200 butterfly, an event in which he’s undefeated this season, shortly before the start of the skins.
London Roar’s Emma McKeon sits third in the standings with 125 points, showing a lot of versatility across the sprint free, fly, and skins events, not to mention she’s been a valuable asset to London on the relays.
Caeleb Dressel, the Cali Condor who is the only swimmer to win multiple MVP awards this season, is sixth overall and fourth among athletes who will compete in Vegas. This is incredibly impressive simply because Dressel has only competed twice this season, missing the Indianapolis stop that opened the season.
The 23-year-old has the two highest single-match point totals in the ISL, with 57.5 in Naples and a record 61.5 in College Park. He will likely need to set a new standard if he’s going to have a shot at running down Sjostrom for the overall title.
In order for that to happen he would have to run the table individually, which he did at the US-derby, but would also need a better performance from Cali’s relays, which is a tall order considering the competition in Vegas will be the best the league has to offer.
Overall MVP Standings – Through Regular Season Meets
|1||Sarah Sjostrom||Energy Standard||151.5||Yes|
|2||Chad Le Clos||Energy Standard||132.0||Yes|
|3||Emma McKeon||London Roar||125.0||Yes|
|6||Caeleb Dressel||Cali Condors||119.0||Yes|
|7||Olivia Smoliga||Cali Condors||117.5||Yes|
|8||Tom Shields||LA Current||107.5||Yes|
After a consistently dominant regular season, Sarah Sjostrom is the odds-on favorite to secure the overall MVP title. She could perform sub-par in Vegas and still win. Her competitors, on the other hand, will need to do something special to even get close.