By Sharon Robb
LEWISVILLE, Texas, October 18, 2019—South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson of Jamaica and Olympic superstars Katinka Hosszu of Hungary and Adam Peaty of Great Britain will make their International Swimming League debut this weekend.
The third stop (the first two were in Indianapolis and Naples, Italy) will feature the LA Current, NY Breakers, Team Iron and London Roar will all compete for the first time in league play Saturday and Sunday at LISD Westside Aquatic Center just outside Dallas.
Hosszu, the most dominant medley swimmer in the world, and Peaty, the fastest male breaststroker in the history of the sport, head the elite field. Peaty and the British team are training at Pine Crest in Fort Lauderdale for three weeks.
Hosszu, a captain of Team Iron, is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, a nine-time Long Course World Champion, and holder of six individual world records.
Peaty, a member of the London Roar, is the reigning Olympic champion in the men’s 100 breaststroke, an eight-time World Champion, and world record holder in the 50 and 100 breaststroke.
Atkinson, a world short course record holder and four-time Olympian, will also compete on Hosszu’s Team Iron along with Russian Vladimir Morozov, the best male short course swimmer in the world.
The league features eight teams all competing for a spot in the splashy season finale in Las Vegas.
The four American clubs are Cali Condors, DC Trident, LA Current and NY Breakers. The international teams are Italy-based Aqua Centurions, France-based Energy Standard, Hungary-based Team Iron and London Roar.
“I’m very excited to be part of this huge movement,” said Hosszu, who owns Team Iron. “I know that we are going to change a lot of things in the sport of swimming. For me, it’s more like a double excitement because I’m an owner of Team Iron and a swimmer in Team Iron, so I see how both sides and how everything unfolds.”
There will be no heats. The events will be held over two hours in a 25-meter pool featuring four swimmers per final.
Swimmers will race for team points, with relays worth double. Skins sprints feature three heats, with eight swimmers reduced to four and then a head-to-head of the fastest two. Points earned in skins are worth triple.
The top four finishers in each race are eligible for prize money beyond what they receive from team revenue. The ISL has committed to a 50-50 split of revenue with the teams and swimmers, who receive base salaries as well.
Other ISL stops are in Hungary, Washington, D.C., and London. The top two teams from the U.S. and Europe after the six regular-season meets advance to the finals on Dec. 20-21.
Two aspects the ISL has implemented outside of the pool is a zero tolerance stance on doping (any athlete with a positive test is not allowed to compete) and equal pay between men and women.
Also, every ISL competitor will have access to financial benefits, including substantial prize money, personal insurance and pension plans. Each of them have signed two contracts – one with their team and another with the league – with central revenues, generated through sales of sponsorship, media rights and merchandise, distributed equitably.
Each team will pay its swimmers from a total salary budget of $150,000, with additional cash bonuses offered based on performance.
Ukrainian Konstantin Grigorishin, the ISL’s founder and financier, talks about bringing a “paradigm shift” in swimming, a sport he believes has huge untapped commercial potential but which has suffered from inertia on the part of Fina, which controls the amateur sport.
ESPN will provide live and delayed streaming of the ISL on ESPN3, which can be accessed through the ESPN app. It will also be shown on CBC Sports for Canadian viewers.
ISL 2019 Schedule:
5-6 October 2019 – IU Natatorium, Indianapolis, USA
12-13 October 2019 – Aquatic Swimming Complex, Naples, Italy
19-20 October 2019 – The LISD Westside Aquatic Center, Lewisville, Texas, USA
26-27 October 2019 – Duna Area, Budapest, Hungary
16-17 November 2019 – Natatorium at the Eppley Recreation Center, Maryland, USA
23-24 November 2019 – London Aquatic Centre, Great Britain
20-21 December 2019 – Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, USA
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org