At the ISL Summit on Tuesday morning at Stamford Bridge in London’s Fulham neighborhood, 12 cities were announced as the likely hosts of teams in the professional league. Athletes will continue to train and represent their home clubs in USA Swimming competition, but as a separate entity athletes will be signed to one of 12 clubs across the United States and Europe. The ‘clubs’ are commercial entities, not formal training clubs as we’re used to, so swimmers from countries not on this list (Australians, Asians) are eligible to join teams.
- Energy Standard
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- Washington DC
Note: all of the European teams are confirmed; 2 of the American teams are confirmed while the other 4 are in final negotiations.
The dates for the regular season have been described as ‘tentative,’ but were also described as ‘likely to happen.’ The semi-finals and final will be in Las Vegas from December 17th-22nd, 2019. The top 8 clubs from the regular season (the top 4 American clubs and top 4 European clubs) will advance to the semi-finals. What is set in stone is the location and dates of the semi-finals and finals: the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. That final will be a short course meet to concentrate the sound; during the regular season, the meet competition format will be determined by the host team. The situation will continue to remain flexible in concert with input of television broadcasters.
That flexibility was a common theme at the meet, and one that will be new for athletes and could be a tension point as the series develops. The format of meet, in terms of session lengths and races involved and course, will be evolved to create the best show, in concert with media. That includes a focus on placing, not times – times don’t matter other than as a way to determine the placing of athletes, which will be a shift.
Meets will be scored via 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for the top 8 finishers (with relays scoring double). At the end of a meet, teams will be ranked and receive league points that will go into the regular season table. Athletes will be allowed to swim unlimited events, and in an effort to push the coach’s role as ‘manager,’ not just as ‘trainer,’ the event lineups will be given to coaches and athletes only very shortly before each session. Event decisions will be made by coaches on the fly, with 2 athletes per event per team, and 2 relay teams per event.
The meets will also include a ‘skins’ race at the conclusion, for extra points.
There was emphasis on the
Regular Season Schedule
Meets will run almost every weekend between the 2019 Pan American Games and the end of the year, with a month break between the regular season and the semi-finals.
This prize money is described as “the minimum value” as the league sits now with no sponsors or revenue, based on the league’s approximate $15 million budget for 2019. The money would then increase any revenue over that $15 million, divided between the league and athletes.
The minimum prize money available (without club salaries or appearance fees) for the season is $5.3 million – exceeding prize money for the World Cup Series by double ($2.5 million). All athletes that compete for the league-champion team will receive $10,000, in addition to all other money.
Each athlete will sign a contract with their team and another with the ISL – creating two sources of money, one that runs through the clubs, and one that comes directly for the league. In 2019, the ISL will cover all travel costs for all athletes.