Dutch Swimming Federation Prohibits Swimmers From Competing In ISL

The Dutch Swimming Federation (KNZB) has prohibited its swimmers from racing in International Swimming League (ISL) matches in 2022, according to a series of Tweets from Ben Van Rompuy, an assistant professor of EU Competition Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

According to Van Rompuy, the KNZB feels as though the ISL’s recently-announced Season 4 schedule overcrowds the national and international sporting calendar, and perhaps more importantly, deems the ISL an “unreliable partner for its members.”

Van Rompuy provided a screenshot of a portion of the letter sent by the KNZB to its members, where the organization says the ISL’s conflicting schedule with both its and FINA’s events is the reason why it’s prohibiting its swimmers from competing in the ISL.

The letter also says that for swimmers who don’t train at a National High Performance Centre (HPC) and do choose to participate, they risk losing their spot on the Dutch team at events such as the World Championships or European Championships. This would be an objective decision by the KNZB to determine what is “optimal” for all parties.

You can find the letter’s translation below:

The fact that the (optimal preparation for the) competitions of ISL and of LEN/FINA and KNZB will conflict strongly is the reason for the KNZB not to give permission to participate in ISL before 2022. Swimmers who swim outside the HPCs and who will participate in ISL on the basis of the currently announced schedule will be assessed in the event of qualification (like any swimmer) for a European Championship or World Championship against the following provision from the qualification manual for international tournaments. This assessment may lead to the withdrawal of qualification for the relevant European Championship/World Cup.

Van Rompuy goes on to add that the KNZB is “testing the waters” with this restriction. Sports federations do have a role in ensuring the competition calendar for their athletes isn’t congested, but banning swimmers from racing in any ISL event in 2022 “goes beyond attaining such a legitimate objective,” he says.

The ISL declined to comment on the announcement. SwimSwam has reached out to the KNZB for additional comment.

The ISL has hosted a total of seven matches in the Netherlands, all coming last season in Eindhoven during the league’s playoffs. The league even planned to host the Season 3 finale elsewhere, but opted to stay in Eindhoven due to potential scheduling conflicts for the athletes.

The Netherlands has had several stars perform well in the ISL, led by the recently-retired Ranomi Kromowidjojo, who was consistently one of the league’s top performers for Iron throughout the first three seasons of competition.

Other top Dutch names who have found success in the ISL include Kira Toussaint (London Roar), Arno Kamminga (Aqua Centurions), Thom de Boer (Iron) and Luc Kroon (Toronto Titans).


The 2022 international swimming calendar has become incredibly busy in recent weeks with both the announcement of ISL Season 4 and the 2022 World Championships, which will take place in Budapest.

While the official schedule for the 2022 World Championships hasn’t been released, swimming is typically held during the second week of competition, which would be from June 25-July 3. Those dates conflict with Match 4 and Match 5 of the ISL regular season (June 25-26 and July 2-3).

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9 months ago

for a professional league, everything I read about the ISL screams unprofessional. especially tina andrew’s personal twitter

Reply to  McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
9 months ago

Good thing they don’t care what you think

Stewart 100 back gold in Fukuoka
Reply to  Hiswimcoach
9 months ago

The league won’t survive if they don’t care what fans think.

Reply to  Stewart 100 back gold in Fukuoka
9 months ago

I think they’re coming to Tina Andrew’s defence. If I recall right they’ve posted quite a few vaccine skeptic comments.

Reply to  Hiswimcoach
9 months ago

and the league has (and will continue to) suffer for it. Sure, I’m just a fan. but they ignore more than just us. the athletes, who are at the very core of the league’s marketability, are being ignored, hence the ISL’s payment and scheduling issues. Another point on marketability is the ny breakers’ twitter, which is completely unhinged and makes the league look bad to prospective sponsors. the isl has made no effort to mitigate the damage tina andrew has done.

3 GMs have resigned, with manaudou’s agent resigning as early as November 2020, and rob woodhouse having plans to resign even back then. there are rumours that kitajima is resigning because of the Asian games, which would end up… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
9 months ago

Lol bye to the Roar making another final. Peaty, Prigoda and Campbell, three world record holders, missed last season. Campbell is definitely missing this season, and the other two are up in the air at best.

Atkinson, another world record holder, has retired. Now Toussaint, another world record holder, isn’t allowed to swim.

Stewart 100 back gold in Fukuoka
Reply to  Sub13
9 months ago

If there is an ISL final at all this year. It’s most likely NED is not the only country who does this.

Reply to  Stewart 100 back gold in Fukuoka
9 months ago

If Sweden and Hong Kong follow suit then Energy might not make the final either.

Stewart 100 back gold in Fukuoka
Reply to  Jamesabc
9 months ago

I would expect Siobhan to take part in Asian Games instead of ISL in September.
Russia, GB and Belarus are also among the first bunch of countries coming to my mind that are likely to follow similar practice of NED, which means Kolesnikov, Rylov, Proud, Shymanovich etc may not be there for Energy too.
I also expect Japan to say no to ISL regular season.

Last edited 9 months ago by Stewart 100 back gold in Fukuoka
9 months ago

Love it. More IGB’s will likely follow.

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
9 months ago

I mean FINA has been a pretty “unreliable partner for its members” when it comes to flip flopping with Worlds.

Although in fairness I don’t think FINA would do something like the NYB twitter account.

Among top Dutch swimmers, I feel that Toussaint would be most aggrieved by this decision.


FINA and ISL are constantly trying to 1-up each other. it started with prize money, but now it’s degraded to poor scheduling decisions

9 months ago

I am not in favor of federations or the ISL barring athletes from competing in other events. The ISL was clearly being provocative towards federations with their new idea of what a professional swimmers should be, and I share the same concerns that the KNZB does about the ISL.

But at the very least athletes with the ISL would be willingly giving up their right to participate in some events under contract, whereas this move from the KNZB is just draconian overreach.

I feel like both the ISL and the KNZB are overplaying their hands, this should be entertaining.

Last edited 9 months ago by IM FAN
Reply to  IM FAN
9 months ago

It’s more of the same, right? Rather than working together, ISL and the federations are making the athletes the pawns, playing brinksmanship with their careers.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Braden Keith
9 months ago

Gonna sum up my thoughts with:

comment image

9 months ago

Well… Athletes still train at facilities backed by the swim federation or NOC, the same organizations that usually pay the coaches so…

If the ISL wants athletes at full commitment they should also think about paying for everything else around the athletes, starting by year-round training venues and coaches.

Reply to  Olympian
9 months ago

^ This. The KNZB spends a lot of money (relatively speaking) supporting the swimmers who train at the national centers. They do this because they want those athletes to perform well at designated competitions (OG, WC, EC, etc etc), If the federation feels the ISL season will interfere with the athletes’ optimal performance at those designated competitions, seems right for them to say, “we’re paying you to swim at the meets we deem important, and ISL doesn’t fit this year”. YMMV.

Reply to  Stewie
9 months ago

The problem here is FINA and the IOC. They make gobs of money from the broadcasting rights and athletes get little to nothing of that revenue. If we want the sport to grow there needs to be a push to improve how it is being commercialized. These kinds of moves are in the wrong direction IMO.

Big Mac #1
9 months ago

This is a bold move

Grimes/Mcintosh combo is the future
9 months ago

The rigging league is shaking right now lool !!

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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