ISL Announces Four American Teams, All Short Course Meter Competitions

The International Swimming League (ISL) has announced its four U.S.-based franchises: the Los Angeles Current, DC Trident, Cali Condors and New York Breakers.

The American teams were announced with the following General Managers:

That confirms our report last week that the four would own the inaugural American teams.

The ISL says its meet will begin on October 4-5, 2019, with meets “almost every weekend” through November 24. League owner Konstantin Grigorishin said in today’s press release that the “regular season” will consist of a series of short course meters meets each featuring 2 American and 2 European teams. Then each continent will have their own meet – all four American teams competing against each other while all four European teams compete.

The season will wrap up with finals in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 20-21. The top four clubs (between the four American squads and the four European ones already announced) will compete for the league championship in a newly-built pool in the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Specific rosters for the American clubs have not yet been announced, but the ISL press conference did announce a handful of athletes already committed as “ambassadors” for the league: Katie Ledecky, Nathan Adrian, Simone Manuel and Ryan MurphyLedecky and Adrian were both involved in today’s press conference, announcing their support of the ISL.

“I’m really excited to be an ambassador for the International Swimming League,” Ledecky said, calling it a “new era” for swimming, and in particular, women in swimming. She pointed to team GMs Sandeno and Andrew as a step forward for women in the higher levels of the sport, as well as the gender equality on team rosters.

“There’s just something about competing for a team title that can just elicit great performances from an individual, even when they’re tired,” Adrian said, expressing his excitement for the league and the different energy he says it will have compared to the more individually-focused format usually found at the sport’s highest level.

The European clubs have already announced fairly full lineups, including grabbing most of the top Canadian talent, leaving the U.S. teams to battle over the top professional U.S. talents on the market.

Asked whether that was putting American teams at a disadvantage in recruiting, Lezak said “I don’t really see that. We started this thing all in a fair playing field where we started recruiting athletes at the same time.” He referenced the territory restrictions: American teams have a two-month window of exclusive ability to recruit American athletes. Each European club has its own territory, as well, with an exclusive window to recruit athletes.

More notes from the press conference:

  • Asked about the specific financial model of the league, Grigorishin expressed his support for a salary cap to restrict owners from buying the best team. Currently, the league doesn’t have a “salary cap” – Grigorishin says each team has an equal amount of “appearance money” to dole out between athletes. In the future, he says, league owners will have to decide on salary cap rules.
  • Grigorishin also reiterated that the league will share 50% of profits with athletes, either directly or through the clubs.
  • Andrew was asked if it’s true that her club will sign Marco Koch and Marius Kusch, but wouldn’t confirm that officially yet. The teams should be making roster announcements over the next few weeks.
  • Grigorishin said the ISL has “no principal conflict” with FINA, emphasizing that FINA is in charge of swimming governance at all levels, while the ISL is very specifically focused on the world’s elite.
  • Meets will all be short course meters. Originally, at the London summit in December, it was announced that the host team would choose the course. We asked what brought about the change to all short course meters competition, but did not receive a response.
  • Three of the European teams have been highly-publicized: the London Roar, Iron Swim Budapest and the Energy Standard team, which Grigorishin said is working to base out of France. But Grigorishin revealed that the fourth will be based in Rome, Italy, and named the Aqua Centurions. Originally, a German team called ONEflow Aquatic was announced, but we reported last week that the club wouldn’t be involved in the first year of the ISL. Grigorishin’s answer about the Rome team confirms that, but the press conference did not answer our question about what happened with the German team’s involvement.

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Swimming4silver
2 years ago

why it has to be short course meters? specially since the Olympics are next year? dont get this

Max C
Reply to  Swimming4silver
2 years ago

To me, if there are meets “almost every weekend” with intercontinental travel for some of them, SCM is probably the better format to prevent athletes from being too tired… never tried SCM, but as a American swimmer yards meets are much easier than meters.

Chris Ritter
2 years ago

This is gonna be so cool!

gator
2 years ago

SCM = fun!

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  gator
2 years ago

Also an opportunity to break some of the American SCM records

Barry
Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
2 years ago

And an opportunity for USA Swimming to maybe track those better!

For instance, apparently there simply was no American record in the 50 SCM Free until Anthony Ervin swam a 20.85 in 2012. A bunch came into existence in 2010 (women’s 100 free, men’s and women’s 200 free), etc.

Right Dude Here
2 years ago

Skipping Indy and Austin are interesting choices…

SwimSam
Reply to  Right Dude Here
2 years ago

It would have been nice to have a Midwest or Southern based team, instead of just east coach / west coast

Para swimmer
Reply to  SwimSam
2 years ago

Yeah it would have but also there are a very limited number of elite competitions on the east coast. Yes there already lots of high level competition on the west coast but there is also a lot of high level swim talent and enthusiasm for swimming. I’m glad they chose where they did.

Midwest Coach
Reply to  Right Dude Here
2 years ago

My understanding is that they plan to grow the league in the next year or two to 12 teams (6 European and 6 American). I agree with Swimsam’s comment that it would be nice to have a Midwestern and a Southern team, so hopefully as the league expands the added American teams will be from those areas.

anonymous
Reply to  Midwest Coach
2 years ago

People in Europe have never heard of Tucson Arizona or Anaheim California. They just know the big cities. This is why they would not have heard of Cleveland Ohio or Austin Texas either,

Right Dude Here
Reply to  anonymous
2 years ago

Now that’s extra confusing, because Austin is bigger than both SF and DC.

spectatorn
2 years ago

interesting to hear about the exclusive recruiting period for American and European teams. Next question – how a swimmer change team or how a team “trade” swimmers…
yes, very exciting time!

Observer
2 years ago

Now… Leaving SCM to ISL and LCM to FINA would be something interesting to think about.

Admin
Reply to  Observer
2 years ago

What’s interesting to me is that Adam Peaty has expressed that he has less-than-neutral regard for short course racing, and in Europe, he’s arguably THE face of the ISL.

Swimming4silver
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

yea, thats why i dont get it?? did they ask the swimmers?

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Swimming4silver
2 years ago

Perhaps fear that LCM records (the ones that most care about) won’t be recognized by FINA unless another threat of litigation?

spectatorn
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

personal choice and preference (of AP) is one thing but Europe does have a lot SCM events and I am sure many found those exciting to watch… for crying out loud, we love to watch SCY at NCAA so here in US is not so different.
In US, most professional swimmers traditionally coming through the rank of college swimming and mastered the skill for SC (start, turns, underwater – all are important for LC too), there is no reason to ditch that skill once college is over! May be this is the gateway for US to eventually switch to SCM now that there are competition and financial opportunity after college.

Hembucha
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Moreover the swimmers expressed desire to race outdoors but were shot down by the bosses

Observer
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Money maybe???
Still, now that I said it out loud it seems very exciting to have two different organisations ruling two different types of swimming… in the future we could even have “unified belts” like they do on boxing.

spectatorn
Reply to  Observer
2 years ago

good thinking! I think there are enough LC event run by FINA, plus the associated trial meets and LC meets in each country, to keep the existing swim fans excited already. Maybe SC has an appeal to others so they will be interested in watching and following swimming. ISL is new so they should experiment and play with the format. I for one am excited to see what they can do!

Troy
2 years ago

So in SCM it’s basically a starts and turns competition rather than a swimming competition.

Admin
Reply to  Troy
2 years ago

While it’s totally reasonable to prefer LCM to SCM, I’m not sure that “swimming can’t be done underwater” is the angle to take…

Observer
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

SCM and LCM are indeed two completely different sports, not even mentioning SCY!

spectatorn
2 years ago

just saw MA’s insta and thought, did ISL try to recruit MP to run/own a team? I think he could be a very animated team owner with his competitiveness. I mean endorsement and speaking events are cool but there isn’t much excitement as professional swim team owner.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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