The International Swimming League has announced that Naples, Italy will serve as the host of the 5-week regular season of the 2021 ISL season. The regular season, featuring all 10 teams, will run from August 26 to September 30.
This will be the third season of the league, and the second season that will be held in a “bubble” setup amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic after the 2020 season was hosted in Budapest.
The 5-week regular season will be followed by a 3-week playoff phase in November that will include the top 8 teams and a Grand Final set for “the end of December or early January 2022.” The locations for the playoff and Grand Final phases have not been disclosed, but ISL says that they expect to announce those locations soon after talks with locations in Asia, Europe, and North America.
The Piscina Felice Scandone hosted a meet during the inaugural season of the ISL in 2019, where hosting locations rotated every week and spectators were allowed. The Naples meet was arguably the most successful of that opening season, with about 1,500 spectators each day in the 4,500 seat pool.
‘’Naples holds a special place in our hearts after such an incredible experience when the city hosted the second-ever ISL match in 2019, so I am very pleased that we are now heading back to this great Italian city,” said ISL founder and president Konstantin Grigorishin. “The Piscina Felice Scandone was full of passionate fans who created such a special atmosphere the first time around, and I hope we can go some way to recreating this.”
The ISL didn’t respond to a question about whether spectators would be considered if the pandemic situation evolved, but their press release did say they would take a “strict safety-first set up similar to that of the successful ISL Season 2 bubble.”
The pool’s most recent international use was as the host of the swimming portion of the 2019 World University Games. While the pool was built as a fixed 50-meter course without extra room for a bulkhead, the ISL donated a bulkhead to the City of Naples ahead of its 2019 stop in order to be able to convert the course to the ISL’s preferred 25 meter format.
The ostensible host team, Italy-based Aqua Centurions, have finished in last place in each of the first two seasons of the league. The team, however, has a new general manager Domenico Fioravanti for the 2021 season, and with the implementation of a draft, they will have a new opportunity to improve their roster.