MVP Sarah Sjostrom Proves Again to be in ‘World’s Greatest’ Conversation After Dominant ISL Season, Final

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Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

Sarah Sjostrom once again proved that when healthy, she is one of the world’s dominant female forces in the pool.

After an elbow injury didn’t allow that dominant force to be unleashed in full force a the Tokyo Olympics, Sjostrom proved what a healthy force can do in the International Swimming League (ISL) finals.

Sjostrom was the MVP of the finals with 61 points and was also the ISL MVP of the entire season with 511.5 points, leading Energy Standard to the ISL championship for the second time in the three years of the league. Energy Standard needed every one of those points as the team scored 534 to hold off the Cali Condors (522) in the finals.

But this meet was so much more for Sarah Sjostrom’s ever-growing legacy.

In the Tokyo Olympics, she was completely overshadowed by the Australian trio of Emma McKeon, Kaylee McKeown and Ariarne Titmus, South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmacher as well as American Katie Ledecky, Canada’s Maggie MacNeil, Japan’s Yui Ohashi , China’s Zhang Yufei and Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey. Sarah Sjostrom is used to being at the top of this growing group, not overshadowed by so many. But the elbow injury came at the worst time for the Swedish star, especially after the Olympics were postponed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. How many medals would she have won if the games were a year earlier?

She was still easily selected as Swimming World’s European Female Swimmer of the Year, but it was an overall down Olympic Games for the European women, with no gold medals, and Sjostrom won the silver medal in the 50 free. That medal had a deeper meaning to Sjostrom after all she had been through. She showed her emotion after finally earning a medal on the final night of the games.

But it wasn’t the Sarah Sjostrom the world has come to know the past decade in the water.

Fast forward a couple of months and a healthy Sjostrom proved she is still capable of being the world’s best even just months after a major injury.

In the ISL final, Sjostrom won the 50 freestyle in 23.27, just a couple of tenths off of her ISL record in the event — and just about a half hour after racing the 100 butterfly, where she was fourth.

On the second day, Sjostrom finished second (51.26) to teammate Haughey (50.79), who broke her own league record and Asian record in the race, then got second in the 50 butterfly 24.87, just three tenths off the league record, about 45 minutes after her first race.

Sjostrom wasn’t out there winning every race she was in. But she was up against the best of each stroke, and her versatility once again proved that she belongs in the top group of sprinters, butterflyers and relay swimmers in the world, a group very few swimmers belong.

That is what makes an MVP — and that is what has proved to the world that Sarah Sjostrom is truly back.

ISL Finals MVP Standings

1. Sarah Sjostrom, Energy Standard 61
2. Nic Fink, Cali Condors, 59.5
3. Hali Fllickinger, Cali Condors, 51

ISL Season MVP Standings

1. Sarah Sjostrom, Energy Standard, 511.5
2. Siobhan Haughey, Energy Standard, 468
3. Ilya Shymanovic, Energy Standard, 403.5