Updated with ISL Comments:
The International Swimming League (ISL) informed athletes on Monday that a Solidarity Payment scheduled to be sent out today has been delayed because of the “sudden onset of war in Ukraine.”
“…the League has been unable (to) transfer the sums which were allotted for the solidarity payments to the bank accounts of your respective Clubs for distribution,” the email reads.
The league’s founder and primary financier Konstantin Grigorishin was born in the USSR and acquired Ukrainian citizenship in 2016. Most of the billionaire’s business holdings are located in Ukraine, and he has also made money via the import of energy and natural resources from Russia. In 2018, he was one of 322 Ukrainian citizens that the Russian Federation imposed sanctions against.
Prior to the outbreak of war, the league said that the conflict wouldn’t impact funding of future seasons.
“Solidarity payments,” essentially the swimmers’ base salary, for the ISL in Season 3 were set at $7,500 total, which was half of what they were a season prior.
While this is not the first time that the ISL has missed payments, one athlete said that the communication was more open than it has been in the past.
“This is of course regrettable, and we do not want to belittle the impact that this may have on yourselves, and we are sorry for this,” the letter continued. “Sadly, this force majeure event is out of our immediate control whilst the situation in Ukraine continues to unfold.”
The league said that while they could not provide any immediate answers to athletes, they promised an update “as soon as (they) can.”
One athlete, Aly Tetzloff of the Tokyo Frog Kings, took to social media in her reaction, criticizing both the ISL and the Swimmers’ Alliance that is supposed to represent athletes, but in reality that is funded by the same people as the league.
She says that the failure to make timely payments has impacted her day to day life and that she struggles to stay in the sport from season to season. She also claims that athletes on the better teams have been paid, while those on lower-ranking teams have not. She says that, in spite of her team racing its last meet on October 4, she has not received a single solidarity payment.
Tetzloff says she also hasn’t received any prize money or any other payments for Season 3. Athletes were told that solidarity payments were supposed to be made in 5 monthly installments beginning October 31, 2021, but she says so far, none have been made.
Tetzloff, a sprint butterflier and freestyler, scored 69.5 points for the Frog Kings last season in 5 matches, averaging almost 14 points per match.
The issue of timely payments, both to athletes and vendors, has been ongoing for the league, even prior to the war in Ukraine.
The league assured athletes that they are moving forward with planning for Season 4, which is currently scheduled to run from June through December in the league’s most ambitious schedule yet.
The ISL had limited information to share when contacted by SwimSwam, but said that they are “Working on alternative solutions and the League remains committed to this as its foremost priority.”
“We have been working even before this crisis to ensure that Season 4 is insulated from the impact of what’s happening in Ukraine, and it is still going ahead,” the league office said.
The fighting in Ukraine continued on Monday as representatives of Russia and Ukraine convened in Belarus for talks to end the fighting.