The International Swimming League (ISL) released a myriad of details regarding how its 2022 offseason will work in the lead-up to the launch of Season 4 in June.
The ISL will host a swimmer draft for the second straight season, scheduled for April 23, but prior to that, we’ll see a number of new wrinkles to the league’s offseason format, including a free agency signing period and a new salary cap.
THREE SWIMMER CATEGORIES
There will be three separate swimmer categories for the season, which determine what the athlete (and club) can do in the offseason.
They are as follows:
- Newcomers – Swimmers who have never previously competed in the ISL.
- Free Agents – Swimmers who competed in ISL Season 3, excluding those recruited as rookies in the Season 3 draft.
- Re-entrants – All other swimmers who are not Newcomers or Free Agents, including but not limited to:
- Signed with clubs last year as rookies in Season 3 draft, will continue with that club this season.
- Signed with clubs last year as rookies in Season 3 draft, were not retained by that club.
- Signed with clubs last year as rookies in Season 3 draft, chose not to stay with that club.
- Did not participate in Season 3, but previously competed in ISL Season 1 and/or 2.
In order to become a free agent, swimmers must do the following:
- If a swimmer is a Newcomer, they must spend two seasons with the club that selects them in the draft.
- If a swimmer participated in a previous ISL season but their club did not or will not sign them for a second season, they must spend one more season with the club that selects them through the draft as a re-entrant.
- If a swimmer participated in a previous ISL season but chose not to participate with the same club for a second season, they must spend two seasons more with the club that selects them through the draft as a re-entrant.
- If a swimmer participated in ISL Season 1 and/or 2 but not Season 3, they must spend one season more with the club that selects them through the draft as a re-entrant.
Swimmers can lose free-agent status if they skip an ISL season—they’ll enter the draft as a re-entrant upon return to the league and will need to spend a season with the club that selects them before re-earning free-agency status.
As stated in the Season 3 draft rules, all rookies from last season are meant to stay with their clubs for the upcoming campaign before reaching free agent status. However, Season 3 rookies can become re-entrants if either their club chooses not to retain them, or if they choose to leave the club.
FREE AGENCY SIGNING PERIOD & SALARY CAP
From April 3-16, clubs will be able to sign swimmers who are in the free agent category, along with their rookie swimmers from Season 3.
Negotiating can begin as soon as March 7, which is when the ISL Season 4 registration period opens. During the same period, last year’s rookies can begin talking to their clubs and decide whether or not they will stay with the team for Season 4.
For the free agents, clubs can sign a maximum of 15 swimmers, but will be restricted to a salary cap for those who have chosen to compete under the ‘PRO’ category. Salary cap details have yet to be released.
Rookies won’t count toward the 15-swimmer maximum.
The free agents a club signs that are competing under the ‘semi-pro’ category won’t count towards the salary cap.
After the free agent signing period wraps up on April 16, the signings will be announced on April 18.
All rookies, re-entrants and free agents who are not chosen/signed by a club will enter the draft pool and be up for selection at the Season 4 Draft on April 23.
ISL OFFSEASON SUMMARY
- March 7 – ISL Season 4 online registration opens
- April 2 – Registration closes
- April 3-16 – Free agency/Rookie signing period
- April 18 – Free agent signings announced
- April 23 – Season 4 draft
The ISL says that further details on the draft-day process will be released closer to the date.