A Viewer’s Guide to the First-Ever ISL Meet in Indianapolis This Weekend

ISL Group A Match 1

  • Saturday, October 5th – Sunday, October 6th
  • 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm EST
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Indiana University Natatorium (IUPUI)
  • Short Course Meters (SCM)
  • Group A: Cali Condors, DC Trident, Energy Standard, Aqua Centurions


Where to watch by region

  • United States: ESPN3
  • Europe and Asia-Pacific: Eurosport
  • Australia: 7plus
  • New Zealand: Spark
  • Canada: CBC
  • Latin America: Claro Sport
  • Brazil: TV Globo
  • Caribbean: FlowSports
  • Israel: Sports 1
  • Middle East/North Africa: Bein Sport

When to watch by region

  • Local Indianapolis time (Eastern) – 2:00 p.m.
  • Los Angeles, Ca. (Pacific) – 11:00 a.m.
  • London – 7:00 p.m.
  • Tokyo – 3:00 a.m.
  • Sydney – 4:00 a.m.

The first competition of the new International Swimming League (ISL) will begin Saturday at the legendary Indiana University Natatorium (IUPUI) in Indianapolis, IN. The meet will consist of two two-hour sessions, beginning at 2:00 pm Eastern Standard Time, and finishing at 4:00 pm.

Though each ISL team’s roster contains around 28 athletes, only 14 per team will be used in competition. In addition to not yet knowing who is swimming this weekend, we will not know which races athletes are swimming until 90 minutes prior to the beginning of the event.

Teams Competing

This weekend will feature ‘Group A’ teams Cali Condors, DC Trident, Energy Standard, and the Aqua Centurions. Each team boasts World Record holders and Olympic gold medalists: the Cali Condors have Caeleb Dressel and Lilly King; DC Trident meanwhile has Katie Ledecky, Cody Miller, and not-yet-retired Natalie Coughlin, who makes her return to swimming following a disappointing 2016 Olympic Trials. Energy Standard holds a collection of international stars including Sarah Sjostrom, Chad le Clos, Penny Oleksiak, and Anton Chupkov. The Rome-based Aqua Centurions are led by World Record holder Federica Pelligrini and Hungarian veteran Laszlo Cseh.

Though we shouldn’t necessarily expect to see all of these mega-stars in the pool this weekend, the fact that we could see them competing against one another on teams that transcend nationality and Olympic affiliation is enough to make any swim fan who has conjured up their own fantasy swim team giddy with anticipation.

Event Schedule

The competition will move fast: there are only eight individual events and three relays per session, making for a total of 19 heats on day 1 and 23 heats on day 2, which concludes with a 50 freestyle “skins” race. The 50 freestyle skins race on day two will feature a knock-out style three heats, beginning with 8 swimmers, then progressing to four, and ultimately two swimmers in a final head-to-head 50 freestyle showdown. Another unique feature of the skins race is that the top-4 finishers will receive double to triple the points they would otherwise for an individual event placing, which also multiplies the prize money for their efforts in the two or three 50s they race back-to-back.

The mixed 4 x 50 medley relay will only be contested if a tie-breaker between two teams is needed in order to settle final team standings at the end of the competition.

Distance events such as the 1500 freestyle and the 4 x 200 freestyle relay have been excluded from the ISL event lineup, which will hone in on events that are 400 meters and shorter, including the 50s of all four strokes. Relays have been limited to 4 x 100 meter events, with the exception of the possible 4 x 50 medley relay. This, coupled with the fact that swimmers must beat a set of benchmark times in order to avoid a penalty docking of points, will make for a fast-paced competition.

Here’s a look at this weekend’s event schedule. Each session is broken into three blocks, each of which ends in a relay event, which is then followed by a break, though the exact length of the breaks has not been specified.

1 100 Fly 2
3 50 Breast 4
5 400 IM 6
4×100 Free Relay
9 200 Back 8
11 50 Free 10
4×100 Medley Relay 12
13 200 Free 14
15 50 Back 16
17 200 Breast 18
4×100 Free Relay 19


20 100 Free 21
22 100 Breast 23
24 400 Free 25
4×100 Medley Relay
28 200 IM 27
30 50 Fly 29
32 100 Back 31
33 4×100 Mixed Free Relay 33
34 200 Fly 35
36 50 Free Skins 37
38 4×50 Mixed Medley (if tiebreak needed) 38

Scoring & Points Breakdown

Scoring for each event will be as follows:

1st 9 18 27
2nd 7 14 21
3rd 6 12 12
4th 5 10 10
5th 4 8 4
6th 3 6 3
7th 2 4 2
8th 1 2 1

Relays count for double, and skins races effectively triple if you make it to the third round; if eliminated in the second round, an athlete earns double points, but if knocked out in the first round, the point totals are the same as a normal race.

Event Selection & Coaching Strategy

As coaches are only permitted to utilize 28 athletes (14 male and 14 female) per competition, they must judiciously decide which athletes to put in which events. While coaches will no doubt seek to put swimmers in their best races, we should also expect to see plenty of swimmers in “off-events” throughout the season as well, depending on the team’s needs.

If a swimmer is having a particularly bad day, a coach may choose to withdraw them from one of the events they’re scheduled to swim in favor of another race where they stand a greater chance of an individual or team victory, if they are badly needed on a relay.

Like most meets, ISL competitions will feature heats of 8 swimmers, composed of two representatives from each team. For relays, two squads per team will compete. Dogging it in favor of saving up for other races will not go unpunished in the ISL; as the league is oriented around a team-centric approach to competition and minimum time standards are in place to motivate athletes to perform at a high level throughout the session, it follows that swimmers and teams will be penalized with point deductions for no-showing races, being disqualified, or swimming slower than the minimum standard in their races.

Due to this unique feature of the league’s scoring system, coaches and swimmers must be prudent in deciding if and when an athlete will skip one event in favor of saving up for another.

For example, if a swimmer does not appear (DNS) for an individual event, they will be docked 4 points; if they are disqualified from an individual event, they will be deducted 2 points. Relays are subject to the same formula, albeit double the points as relays count for double. The 50 freestyle skins race, on the other hand, penalizes athletes that DNS by -4, -8, or -12 points, depending on which round they forego, or -2, -4, or -6 if disqualified in the 50 skins race, dependent on the round they’re in at the time of the DQ.

Prize Money

Prize money points, which are calculated differently than the team points earned in an individual, relay, and skins races, are what determines how much money an athlete makes in a competition. If you’re interested in tallying up how much money swimmers are earning as the meet unfolds, keep in mind that only the top 4 finishers come away with any money. Relays count as double points, but each athlete gets 25% of the total points. A simplified table of prize money points is below:

1st 6 3 18
2nd 4 2 12
3rd 2 1 6
4th 1 0.5 3

Each “prize money point” correlates to a dollar amount: $300 per point in the regular season and $1,000 per point in the final.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

So, the first match is tomorrow in Indianapolis and yet we still don’t know where the live stream will be for US watchers? That’s… not promising.

3 years ago

Do we know if there will be ‘Skins’ races for other events at other ISL meets? Would be amazing (and painful) to watch it happen with a 400IM… would definitely take some strategy to survive that long and would take good coaching selection to know which athlete is fit enough physically and mentally to do it for the team points. (Muahahaha)

Reply to  COVFEFE
3 years ago

As of now, the 50 free is the only planned one.

I would buy a ticket to watch a 400 IM skins race.

3 years ago

Maximum 2 swimmers per event… how many events per swimmer?

Reply to  Skyler
3 years ago

There is no limit on events per swimmer. Pragmatically, the meets are going to move very fast and the races will be in rapid succession. That will wind up being the limiting factor on number of events raced. I have a hard time seeing where it would make sense to have an athlete swim more than 3 individuals + a relay on each day, except maybe in very special cases like 50s or a swimmer like Michael Andrew (though even if we count by his standards of the crazy triple he did at Nationals, more than 3 + a relay per day could get pretty intense).

3 years ago

What is the points deduction if a swimmer swims slower than the minimum time set out?

Reply to  FFP
3 years ago

1 point for individuals, doubled for relays.

3 years ago

The Indiana University Natatorium may be “legendary” for its historical achievements, but sadly is now far from world class

Reply to  Mike
3 years ago

Mike — if you are going to insult the place, you might explain in what way it “… is now far from world class.”

Reply to  Mike
3 years ago

Have you been there lately?! Must not be too shabby since they held Jr Worlds there last summer and will hold the men’s NCAA championships there in 2020. Not to mention it is the last Pro Series meet before the Olympic Trials. I’ve been to several universities and venues for USA swimming national and other meets and would be hard pressed to find a better venue – especially for spectators.

bear drinks beer
3 years ago

Will they post an entry list by club or by event, and let us know which swimmers are actually participating?

Reply to  bear drinks beer
3 years ago

According to the ISL’s official press releases, the lineup will only be known as of an hour and half before each event and is subject to change throughout.

3 years ago

Hoping to see some SCM WR’s go down!

Reply to  PhillyMark
3 years ago

As an unrested meet, its highly unlikely to happen. But I hope im wrong😁

3 years ago

So no streaming in the US? Live results anywhere even?

Reply to  tallswimmer
3 years ago

We’ve been told by the ISL that they’ve got it lined up and an announcement coming soon. Followed up again today, hopefully we get an answer.

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

Sorta seems like a pattern with this group – they seem pretty far out over their sneakers on the whole thing. I admire the ambition, but will be curious to see if they can survive/thrive in spite of their disorganization.

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

So this starts in 48 and still nothing?

Reply to  tallswimmer
3 years ago

if all else failed, we can count on SS and the comment session for latest news and update 🙂

CT Swim Fan
Reply to  tallswimmer
3 years ago

Everyone else is all set, but the United States can’t get it together yet. Ridiculous.

Reply to  tallswimmer
3 years ago


About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

Read More »