Deciphering the ISL’s “Solidarity Program”

On Friday, the International Swimming League (ISL) announced a new “Solidarity Program” that would reshape season 2 of the sport’s new professional swimming program, including paying all athletes a monthly stipend from September 2020 until July 2021 as they prepare for the rescheduled Olympic Games.

While ISL staff has been tight-lipped about any details, instead preferring to focus on the message of the movement, the league’s founder and funder Konstantin Grigorishin has begun to share the shape of this new look season through interviews.

The league was originally scheduled to include 27 meets around the world beginning in September and running through a late April finale. The league, like most of the world’s international sporting events, has had to undergo a rethink and a re-plan after the global outbreak of coronavirus has ground most of the sporting world to a halt. With the Olympics being moved to July of 2021, the original ISL calendar would have begun to run into Olympic Trials dates. That, in addition to the uncertainty about how long public bans on large gatherings will last, forced a re-evaluation for the league.

Below is what we know so far.

ISL Solidarity Program Details

  • The original 6 month season with 27 meets will now become a 5-week training camp, with all athletes and their personal coaches housed in some kind of a compound including a world-class aquatic facility
  • The season will have some kind of a competitive tournament, though the exact shape of that is unknown.
  • Australia, Budapest, Japan, and Florida were all considered options, but Grigorishin says that after consulting with swimmers and coaches, Australia was the favorite and is currently the front-runner (though not set in stone yet).
  • The soft-set dates of the camp will be October 14th-November 17th.
  • While the current format of the whole thing is not set, 320 swimmers will be invited (16 men and 16 women per team, times 10 teams). We’ve asked teams that have already begun announcing swimmers if their swimmers are still to be considered part of their teams, and didn’t receive a response. One proposal Grigorishin made will include 10 matches in the 5 weeks, which will be like preliminary rounds, and then a month later have a finals.
  • Each of those swimmers will receive a minimum of $1,500 a month from September through July, which comes out to $5.28 million. An additional $5.72 million, for $11 million total, will be set aside to cover bonuses, ambassador payments, and prize money. The whole season could cost up to $20 million, which would be significantly less than season 1 cost, though in a very different format.
  • A list of ambassadors has not been named yet, but team owner Katinka Hosszu and the league’s top swimmer Caeleb Dressel did make the rounds of interviews on Friday.
  • Grigorishin has proposed that the event be filmed behind closed doors, like a reality television show, and broadcast globally.

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2 years ago

Australian international border is expected to remain closed until the end of the year so seems like the Gold Coast might be ruled out.

2 years ago

until there’s a solution/vaccine for the virus, I think it makes no sense to set dates for international events with swimmers flying from different corners of the world. no country would allow that

Reply to  matt00
2 years ago

With the rate this is spreading, we can likely rely on herd immunity having developed through the summer

Reply to  Pvdh
2 years ago

The virus is spreading fast, but not that fast to get herd immunity. We know nothing about the virus: will it be seasonal? are we going to get a second wave? who knows. Nobody knows. “Social distancing” could be the norm for several more months..

2 years ago

Sounds exciting actually

2 years ago

Hope the ISL will be viable in 2021..but doubt it.

2 years ago

I just hope the teams are more fair… it’s more exciting!

The Importer AND Exporter
2 years ago

Well whatever it ends up being, hopefully they will get a better tv deal this time around so we can actually watch it.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of 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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