Japan's Daiya Seto swimming for the Energy Standard team celebrates his International Swimming League 400m medley victory in a short course world record. (Photo: AFP)
Daiya Seto and Caeleb Dressel clocked short course world records Friday as the International Swimming League brought its high-octane brand to Las Vegas for the season one series finale.
Japan's Seto, who figures to be a star of the Tokyo Olympics next year, made a splashy ISL debut, clocking 3min 54.81sec to win the 400m individual medley -- breaking the previous record of 3:55.50 set by American Ryan Lochte at the short course world championships in Dubai in 2010.
"I was going for it," said Seto, who said the time confirmed his preparations for Tokyo are right on track.
Dressel, whose eight medals at last July's long course world championships included six golds, clocked 20.24sec in the 50m free to break the previous record of 20.26 set by France's Florent Manaudou at the 2014 short course worlds in Doha.
Manaudou, who returned from retirement this year in a comeback aimed at the Tokyo Games, settled for second on Friday in 20.69.
Seto, swimming for the Energy Standard team, was making his first appearance in the series, which was launched this year with eight teams swimming in six meets -- the top four teams advancing to the final.
Vegas, the US gambling haven known for glitz and risk-taking, was hailed as the perfect venue for a league aiming to shake up the sport, stepping out from under the umbrella of international governing body FINA and offering significant prize money in a quick-paced format aimed at exciting swimmers and fans alike.
"I think what is noticeable about this league is how much chatter it's creating. It's a disruptive force," said London Roar's Cate Campbell of Australia. "I have had people who don't follow swimming come up and talk to me.
"And I think that really is the first step, getting the name out there and spreading the word and telling people it's swimming reinvented, it's a different way of looking at swimming.
"It's bringing swimming into the 21st century."
The finals are unfolding steps from the Mandalay Bay casino, in a high-tech temporary pool erected for the occasion.
"I remember going to basketball games as a kid and I'd be like 'Man, why can't we have the jumbotron? Why can't we have the lasers and the light show going on?'" said US Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian, calling the addition of such elements "awesome."
With a $100,000 prize to be shared by the team that tops the final points standings -- and double points on offer on the final weekend -- Dressel's Cali Condors roared off the blocks, winning the first five events before Seto's dominant victory.
"We knew we were coming in hot," said Cali's Nic Fink, who beat world champion Adam Peaty of London Roar in the 50m breaststroke.
Dressel opened his day with a victory in the 100m butterfly, with Cali teammate Kelsi Dahlia upsetting Energy Standard's Sarah Sjostrom in the women's 100m fly.
Cali's Lily King maintained her perfect record in ISL, winning the 50m and 200m breaststrokes to improve to 11-0 in the series.
Dressel would add a runner-up finish in the 4x100m free to lead the meet Most Valuable Player standings heading into the final day on 52 points ahead of Cali teammate Fink, who also won the 200m breaststroke and headed into Saturday with 41 points.
Sjostrom was in third on 37, but she still led the season MVP race -- which carries a prize of $50,000 -- with 188.5 points. Dressel was second on 171.