Energy Standard maintained their winning record in the inaugural International Swimming League as they overhauled overnight leaders Cali Condors to secure their second short-course meeting victory in Naples.
While Condors’ United States superstar Caeleb Dressel proved invincible, the overall strength of Energy Standard, and three wins from their women’s captain Sarah Sjöström, proved irresistible overall.
Indianapolis hosted the inaugural short-course event last week, with a first-season budget of $20 million (£16 million/€18 million), funded by ISL founder, Ukrainian billionaire Konstantin Grigorishin.
A total of $7 million (£5.5 million/€6.3 million) goes to athletes and teams in prize money.
Having trailed the Condors by 230 to 237.5 points after day one in the sold-out Felice Scandoni pool, Energy Standard came through for victory with 493 points, with Condors second on 490.5.
DC Trident were third with 322 points, half-a-point ahead of Aqua Centurions.
But if the Centurions were last in terms of points they were first in terms of support, given the presence in their team of Italy’s very own multiple world 200 metres freestyle champion Federica Pellegrini.
Sweden’s Olympic champion Sjöström got Energy Standard up to speed with an opening victory in the women’s 100m freestyle in 51.66sec, with Pellegrini being the top scorer for Aqua as she finished fifth in 52.53.
Condors balanced back as Dressel won the men’s 100m freestyle in 45.77, with South Africa’s 2012 Olympic champion Chad Le Clos and Evgeny Rylov of Energy Standard dead-heating in second on 46.72.
America's Rio 2016 champion Lilly King earned maximum points for the Condors in the women’s 100m breaststroke, but Belarusian Ilya Shymanovich restored the Energy Standard energy with victory in the men’s 100m breaststroke in 56.35.
At this point Condors led from Energy Standard, 281.5 to 271 points.
Australia’s world champion Ariarne Titmus cocked 3min 58.34sec in the 400m freestyle to earn maximum points for Condors, while in the men’s version, American Zane Grothe, earned a first win on the night for DC Trident in 3:41.03.
Condors then took maximum points in the women’s 4x100m medley, the men’s 200m medley,thanks to AUsstralia's Mitch Larkin, the women’s 200m medley through Melanie Margalis of the US and the men’s 50m butterfly, where Dressel held off Le Clos in 22.34, with the South African clocking 22.53.
The third place of France's Florent Maladou’s kept Energy Standard at the races, however.
Sjöström earned her second win of the night for Energy Standard in the women’s 50m butterfly, and her Russian team-mate Evgeny Rylov added a win in the men’s 100m backstroke.
But Condors’ Olivia Smoliga, of the US, won the women’s 100m backstroke in 56.24 to keep her team ahead by 405.5 to 370.
Energy Standard won the 4x100m mixed freestyle, and Le Clos took top points in the men’s 200m butterfly, clocking 1:50.60, while Megan Kingsley, another Americn, earned a maximum for Condors in clocking 2:05.45 in the women’s 200m butterfly.
So it came down to the women’s and men’s skins races - a knockout format of three heats with the field reduced from eight swimmers to four in the first race.
The top four swimmers compete in the second race, with the best two advancing to a head-to-head battle in the third.
The women’s final saw both Energy Standard entrants getting through, with Sjöström edging her Dutch team-mate Femke Heemskerk in the final.
Although Dressel rounded off a glorious night by winning the men’s skins event, a second place for Manaudou proved enough to give Energy Standard overall victory.