While the International Swimming League (ISL) is finalizing rosters for its third season, a second professional swimming league born out of Australia has just been announced.
The Australian Swimming League (ASL) represents a national professional league whose inaugural series of competitions will begin in the fourth quarter of 2022. ASL is privately owned and funded and will run the competition with the support of Swimming Australia.
According to Swimming Australia, the ASL ‘will provide Australia’s world-leading swimmers and the next wave of young talent with the opportunity to compete against each other in elite competition on an annual basis, while delivering a fresh, exciting, and engaging entertainment product for fans both in attendance and watching at home.’
ASL competition will operate under a license model, with races taking place over several weeks at venues across Australia. More details are expected to be announced via an ‘opening night’ event this October.
Until that time, however, there are myriad questions regarding how the ASL will interact, interfere or co-exist alongside the aforementioned ISL. However, an ASL representative told SwimSwam, ‘ASL will stand alone in the swimming calendar and we don’t anticipate any crossover.’
We have reached out to the ISL for comment as well.
At a high level, there will be a number of ASL teams consisting of a set number of swimmers, split evenly between male and female athletes including multi-class and juniors. These athletes will be selected via an annual draft to help ensure equal spread across the league. The draft concept appears similar to what the ISL conducted for its season 3, although several swimmers were able to be retained by teams in a ‘protected status’.
The ASL will consist of representative teams from key Australian locations. The structure and makeup of these teams is yet to be determined. The number of teams of participating is also not yet defined.
In contrast, the ISL is not a national league, as each team consists of swimmers who represent many different nations when competing internationally, including Australia.
Prize money is reportedly on the line for ASL races, which is also what drives many swimmers to continue their careers within the ISL as professional athletes.
Amazon and Swimming Australia have already struck a deal that will allows the Australian Swimming Championships to be broadcasted live on the company’s streaming platform for the next two years. It’s unknown if Amazon will be involved with any of the ASL action.
Swimming Australia CEO Alex Baumann says of the ASL announcement, “Swimming is an integral part of Australian culture and leading recreational activity, not to mention the success our Olympic and Paralympic athletes have achieved in the sport.
“For generations, Australian swimmers have been some of the best in the world and are household names both at home and abroad. Outside of major international events, it is important for Swimming Australia to create a high-profile domestic platform to showcase our current and future stars which also supports our vision of delivering greater opportunities for Australia’s leading athletes.
“We are delighted to be working with the ASL to establish an annual, made for broadcast league, that will provide high level competition for our swimmers, while entertaining a broad audience in a way which excites and inspires.”
Swimming Australia National Head Coach Rohan Taylor said: “The ASL is absolutely fantastic news for Australian swimming. From a coaching perspective, an annual professional league will offer regular elite competition to drive performance outcomes and provide a vital opportunity for Australia’s best emerging talent to compete against our finest swimmers.
“With prize money on the line as part of this new professional league, I anticipate every round will be hotly contested and will offer viewers action packed racing where the level of competition will see Australian swimming go to new heights.”
ASL CEO Stuart Coventry said: “The ASL is thrilled to be partnering with Swimming Australia to establish and operate this new professional swimming league.
“The ASL will be swimming but not as you know it! It will be an exciting format that delivers a fast-paced event program that pits individuals and teams against one another in an elite competition with plenty of action in and out of the water.
“This competition will capture the imagination of a diverse audience through our fast-paced, action-packed, highly entertaining and family focused product. We look forward to sharing more details about the league over the coming months ahead of the inaugural series commencing in Summer 2022.”