The International Swimming League is a one of its kind swimming’s premier professional competition. It is a showcase event with over 300 of the world’s best swimmers. However, it has slipped under the radar in India. Be it the lack of mainstream media coverage or zero Indian representation at the event, the International Swimming League is a spectacle that deserves a closer inspection.

Over the coming few days, Swimming Matters will take a deeper dive into the ISL, but here is everything you need to know about it.

What is the International Swimming League?

The ISL is short for the International Swimming League. It is a team-based competition centered around sprint events in a 25 meter pool (Short Course). There are individual events and relay events that each team takes part in to earn points.

ISL was officially created in 2017 when the International Swimming League was founded as an organization. The idea of such a team based event was inspired by Ukrainian billionaire, Konstantin Grigorishin.

Watch 3 time Olympian and head coach of London Roar Melanie Marshall’s post swim talk.

What is so special about the ISL?

Swimming at the Olympics and World Championship events is hugely popular. But the ISL is arguably the most visionary revolutionary in the sport. It is the one singular sporting event that has made swimming a sport of the 21st century.

Till now, swimmers from all around the world have only represented their countries or themselves as individuals in competitions. The ISL changes that. Now there are teams that these swimmers are signed to and they represent them when they enter the pool.

Swimming has been a largely amateur sport till now but with this event swimmers can take part in a competition as professionals.

Amateurism vs Professionalism.

Sports across the spectrum have moved towards becoming professional, be it cricket, or badminton or kabbadi. ISL makes swimming join that realm.

Amateur sports are characterized by sportspersons not getting paid for their endeavors. Since they represent themselves and their country they are awarded lump-sum remuneration based on their achievements. In such a situation participating at higher levels of sports is seen as a volunteer activity.

Professional sports on the other hand sign athletes to contracts where they are entitles to a salary and benefits. On top of it performance based incentives maybe added. Similar to everyday job market, sportspersons are hired to fill in “vacancies” in teams.

The ISL has been revolutionary in bringing this new age concept to swimming.

Is this the ISL’s first season?

No, the ISL’s debut season was held in 2019. The final of the event were held in Las Vegas with great fanfare. (Relive the 2019 finals here.)

The plan by the organizers was to have an even bigger spectacle this year. The Covid-19 pandemic turned out be a bigger spanner in the works than expected. The 2020 season of the ISL is a few days from its historic conclusion.

Watch this space for more comprehensive pieces about the 2020 season of the International Swimming League.

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