12 Cities Chosen for International Swim League Teams

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.

European Teams

  • Energy Standard
  • Stuttgart
  • Rome
  • Marseille
  • Budapest
  • London

United States

  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Washington DC
  • Phoenix

Note: all of the European teams are confirmed; 2 of the American teams are confirmed while the other 4 are in final negotiations.

Season Format

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.

Meet Format

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. 

Prize Money

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.

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2 years ago

What about Knoxville? They missed the boat

Reply to  Socrateshatesoliveoil
2 years ago

Looks like they chose international cities with major airports instead of towns.

Reply to  feelgood
2 years ago


Right Dude Here
Reply to  Swimmer
2 years ago

Seems to be on the list, yep.

Reply to  Socrateshatesoliveoil
2 years ago

Knoxville? The World’s Fair and Gold Medal Mel are ancient History………..how about Nashville, Las Vegas, Miami or San Diego? Those towns rock. You have to have more to see than Neyland Stadium and a jaunt to Dollywood & Pigeon Forge. It’s not just about Swimming and Airports………………..I love the first draft. The sooner this “International League can include Sydney, Brisbane, Tokyo, Beijing, Cape Town and Maui, we can then start thinking about Knoxville or Soddy Daisy, Tennessee…………………………sorry, truth. Even Kredich would agree…..

Vincent Harris
Reply to  GRUBBY_1
2 years ago

Soddy Daisy 🤔😂😂

2 years ago

Sounds exciting.

Mr O
Reply to  Tim
2 years ago

Wouldn’t it be cool with a draft like NHL?

Martin Vickers
Reply to  Mr O
2 years ago

That IS an excellent idea. Presumably we will also be talking logos, branding, team kits, etc?

Perhaps, if we are going to guarantee finals for 4 teams from each continent, the league should go full square with a ‘conference’ system. this would also raise the possibility at some later juncture of a Southern Conference joining Europe and USA – Rio, Bueno Aires, Jo’berg, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland?

Christopher Moolman
2 years ago

Anything to help the swimmers and get more exposure. Africa is waiting.!

Human Ambition
2 years ago

Energy Standard Eels
Stuttgart Sailfish
Rome Roccas
Marseille Mantas
Budapest Barracudas
London Lampreys

Los Angeles Beavers
San Francisco Salmons
Atlanta Alligators
Austin Amphibians
Washington Whales
Phoenix Penguins

Reply to  Human Ambition
2 years ago

Where did Beavers come from lmao

Reply to  Beefcake
2 years ago

The location of a Hollywood wax.

Mr O
Reply to  Human Ambition
2 years ago

Will the goal be to train with the teammates in the future? Like Energy Standard.
I think that would develop professional swimming even further.

2 years ago

On paper looks to be come creative and interesting ideas with the format. I also think it’s avoiding the trap of being too gimmicky, which would possibly alienate “real” swimming fans. Only thing that really worries me is the month break between regular season and the “play offs”. Hope everyone has patience as things evolve with this venture.

2 years ago

Barracudas? That sounds weird. Budapest Beasts 🙂

Reply to  Riez
2 years ago

How about the Budapest Invaders?

Reply to  BaldingEagle
2 years ago

on Intruders

Reply to  BaldingEagle
2 years ago

It sounds like they were going with an aquatic theme as all the team names are animals that live in or spend time in the water.

Where are the Tokyo Terrapins though? This format is tailor-made for the Japanese team’s proclivity to swim fast at multiple in-season meets.

Los Angeles missed out on a huge opportunity to be the Los Angeles Labradors though. Who wouldn’t want a water-loving dog as a mascot?

2 years ago

any word on venues?

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

would that mean the DC venue would be… George mason? Sounds like we don’t have the answers right now, but it will be interesting to see which pools they choose.


Mr A
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

University of Maryland would have been a good DC area choice, but it looks like there is a home football game the weekend of October 19-20. That may take Maryland out of the running. Parking is already a nightmare.

Tony Carroll
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

The University of Maryland isn’t far… could be an option

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

University of Maryland has a nice facility, I think they have more seating than GMU as well

Reply to  PVSFree
2 years ago

But is more seating early in the league a good thing? I think you get a better deal with Mason for a couple reasons:

1. Probably easier to get to Dulles airport which is the biggest airport in the area.
2. George Mason has a college team, and pretty large one usually. That could help with either increasing ticket sales or having timers/other volunteers for the meet.
3. The area around Mason has numerous club teams that train in the immediate area. Off the top of my head NCAP, MAKOS, Potomac Marlins, YORK all train within a 15 drive.
4. The Mason pool is almost in the center of the Northern Virginia Swim League geographically, the… Read more »

The Original Tim
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

The best pools in the general DC area are probably George Mason (main campus, though the Freedom Center pool isn’t bad), University of Maryland, and the Jeff Rouse Swim Center.

Of those three, Jeff Rouse is the newest. I’d rank it 2nd after UMD as a venue, though both GMU pools are nice.

CUA Swim Fan
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Aint no better place to hold a meet than the Raymond A DuFour Athletic Center in Northeast DC

Reply to  CUA Swim Fan
2 years ago


2 years ago

Looks great and it appears they are getting traction with buy-in from athletes… but what about Coaches. Many coaches at this level are recognised/remunerated for the job they do at international level, would they compromise success at this level for succes in ISL? Or is there even any compromise to be had?

Reply to  wetwales
2 years ago

I think it’d be cool to have retired swimmers be the coaches. Since they aren’t training with these clubs do you really need a real coach?

Reply to  coachymccoachface
2 years ago

Whilst at the meet its self they could have “celebrity” coaches i.e. ex-swimmers or coaches from others sports….. my point about coaching was in regard to preparation for the meet. If Swimmers are getting top dollar to swim and even more to win then they will want to be in good shape, maybe in peak performance shape?? If thats the case they need a coach who is aligned to that, this is where I see the issue, potentially.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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