New Int'l League Brings Team Competition To Swimming
The Int'l Swimming League is a new eight-team professional outfit which "plans to stage a series of team-based competitions beginning this fall," according to Rick Maese of the WASHINGTON POST. Gold medal-winning U.S. swimmer Katie Ledecky will compete in the ISL after being "named a league ambassador in April" when the league announced its launch. The league yesterday "released the rosters for half of its teams and plans to announce the remaining swimmers next week." One of the eight teams will "carry the DC name and branding," but the group will not "train or be physically based" in the area. Team rosters "could be somewhat fluid from week to week, too, as some competitors choose to compete in events that coincide with their Olympic training." The ISL "intends to open its season on Oct. 3 in Indianapolis and plans to feature 200 of the world's best swimmers." Events will be held in short-course pools, and will "alternate each weekend between a European venue and one on U.S. soil." The inaugural season "culminates with a championship event on Dec. 19-20 in Las Vegas" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/12).
FIRST OF ITS KIND: In Illinois, Rich Mayor notes the ISL, which was founded by Ukranian billionaire Konstantin Grigorishin, is the "first professional sports league for elite swimming." The co-ed league is "rooted in a team-based competition format and includes financial incentives for all swimmers." Of the league's eight teams, four will be based in the U.S. and four will be based in Europe. The ISL "aims to feed the desire from both swimmers and spectators for more competition" (NAPERVILLE SUN, 6/12). Team USA swimmer Giles Smith said, "There’s never really been a true league to do this as a sport. Hopefully, it can make our sport -- for all the work that we put in -- more than just a four-year sport" (BALTIMORE SUN, 6/12). In Australia, Wayne Smith notes some people "worried about how the series might impact" Olympic preparations, so ISL organizers "agreed to shorten the first season to three 'matches' per team, plus a two-day final series" in Las Vegas (THEAUSTRALIAN.com, 6/12).