Int'l Swimming League Founder Bullish On Long-Term Viability
The lead financial backer of the Int'l Swimming League said that he has seen enough "strong ticket sales, impressive performances and an electric atmosphere around the pool deck" during the league's inaugural season to "know there is a place for a professional swimming league" long-term, according to Rick Maese of the WASHINGTON POST. Konstantin Grigorishin, a Ukrainian energy tycoon who is bankrolling the league, added that he "anticipated financial struggles out of the gate" but is "committed to expanding the ISL" following next year's Tokyo Games. ISL matches "look and feel more like a college dual meet than the televised national or international competitions" with which casual fans "might be more familiar." This weekend's event in College Park, Md., is the league's fifth stop and the third in the U.S. Grigorishin said that there were "some early hiccups, but he thinks the product has improved from week to week." The league "moved so quickly out of the gate" that potential sponsors "already had allocated their budgets and many venues had been booked." Grigorishin said one immediate issue was how to "convince a sponsor to sponsor something that does not exist" yet. Grigorishin is "counting on a boost" coming out of Tokyo with "hopes of starting the second season in September ['20], adding two teams and staging 27 matches in all -- 20 more than this year -- with a championship slated" for April '21 (WASHINGTON POST, 11/15).