ISL To Give Swimmers The Option of Being ‘Pro’ or ‘Semi-Pro’ In Season 4

The International Swimming League (ISL) is in the process of announcing several changes to its format for Season 4, including giving athletes the option to be either a ‘pro’ or ‘semi-pro’ for the campaign.

The two options will give swimmers more flexibility in planning their schedules for the season, which will span over six months from June to December 2022.

In short, opting for the pro category will require swimmers to be fully committed to the ISL for the entirety of the season while offering them a salary and additional bonuses.

Pros will have additional obligations to the ISL which restricts them from entering “all other commercial competitions” that aren’t defined by the league as a ‘Tier-1’ international competition.

‘Tier-1’ competitions include meets such as the Olympics, World Championships and Commonwealth Games where swimmers are representing their national federation.

If an athlete opts to be a semi-pro, they have much more flexibility in their schedule, but in turn, won’t receive a salary. Semi-pros will be allowed to compete in external competitions outside of the ISL.

Examples of an outside competition that the ‘pro’ swimmer would not be eligible to compete at would include meets like the FINA World Cup and the USA Swimming Pro Swim Series—essentially any competition with prize money that doesn’t fall under the league’s ‘Tier-1’ umbrella.

It’s important to note that this restriction on the ‘pro’ swimmers is only in place during the ISL season (June 3-late December).

For the pro swimmers, salaries will be a minimum of $10K and a maximum of $60K for the season.

PRO Swimmers

Requirements & Benefits

  • Be available for all matches of the ISL season with the exception of skipping one match during the regular season for any reason.
  • Aren’t allowed to enter any outside commercial competitions not defined by the ISL as ‘Tier-1’ international competitions.
  • Receive a salary ($10-60K for the season)
  • Receive additional bonuses (loyalty bonuses for swimmers returning to their clubs from last season, bonuses for top rookies who are drafted, aggregated ratings bonuses, ‘jewel’ bonuses).

Semi-PRO Swimmers

Requirements & Benefits

  • Can skip up to three matches in the regular season and one match during the playoffs for any reason.
  • Won’t receive a salary and aren’t eligible for certain bonuses.
  • Can win prize money in an equivalent way to pro swimmers.
  • Are able to compete in external commercial competitions outside of the ISL season.

If a swimmer misses a match due to injury, illness, not being selected by the head coach or with prior consent by the league, it does not count against the number of matches they are able to skip.

The league also announced updates to its financial structure on Monday, including upping the Total Money Pool to $13 million for Season 4. Read more on that here.

The ISL announced a 24-match schedule for its fourth season in late January, with the regular season set to begin on June 4.

The recently-announced 2022 FINA World Championships conflict with the ISL’s third, fourth and fifth regular-season matches. A source indicated to SwimSwam that the league already has deals in place and isn’t looking to reschedule any matches to accommodate Worlds.

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9 months ago

The idea of not restricting conception was the backbone of creating the ISL.

I understand encouraging and financially rewarding athletes who attend all the meets but coercing significant payments for swimmers who do outside completion or compete at all meets is counterproductive.

9 months ago

ISL is making a mess. They are unable to communicate well. They are unable to publish decent and honest match schedules. They are disrespectful to the NF’s that put a lot of money into training and developing athletes. They require a professional attitude from athletes but are amateurs themselves.

Let them sit down with FINA and work together in a mature way. Start by drawing up a good calendar and take good care of the athletes. That would be a good start to a professional Swimming League

Last edited 9 months ago by Swwimm
9 months ago

Dressel, Peatiy and the others chose semi-professional!

Peter Hero
9 months ago

This league is still a joke and started to become worse and worse every year. Feel bad for the athletes who chooses to do this circus🤡

9 months ago

If these rules applied in Season 1 then London would have beat Energy lol.

I think requiring some level of commitment is a good thing. Last season was literally just everyone doing whatever they like with zero communication. But restricting swimmers from swimming other events when it’s unsure when (or even if) they will get paid by ISL is bad. You can’t cut off participants’ other income streams unless you’re paying them properly

9 months ago

Doesn’t USA Swimming’s athlete stipend require athletes to show up for x number of Pro Series/Grand Prix Meets in order to qualify for funding?

Reply to  Aquajosh
9 months ago
9 months ago

At the core of the ISL is a dichotomy between the interest of two groups. One is the professional swimmers who sought to the wrestle the power over their sport away from the corrupt hands of FINA, and hand a nobler sport governed by people who truly cared about swimming. The other is Konstantin Grigorishin and his estate, whose motives are unclear and dubious.

This dichotomy makes analyzing the ISL difficult. They successfully broke FINAs monopoly on hosting top level meets, in the process further exposing the ineptitude and twisted priorities of that organization. But the organization has failed to deliver a commercially viable product, hasn’t demonstrated any business plan beyond just living off of Konstantin Grigorishin’s coffers, and… Read more »

Reply to  IM FAN
9 months ago

Honestly, a second year marketing student and third year business student could run the ISL’s marketing/advertising and the actual ISL itself better than what is currently happening. If the ISL was giving it everything they had but just weren’t finding an audience, I could understand.

I don’t understand how a billionaire, who is presumably a good businessman, can throws tens of millions into ISL every year and still the marketing and management of it is just so amateur.

9 months ago

I feel like this would have been a great update if they caveat the restriction on participation in other meets is only when the meets conflict with ISL. Instead this move makes them look like they’re trying to restrict racing and funding opportunities for their swimmers. I fail to see the harm of a swimmer competing in a March Pro series to get LCM racing in? Why not make these marketing opportunities and require pro’s to wear their teams swag while at these non-tier 1 meets?

Big Mac #1
Reply to  swimswamswum
9 months ago

Article says it only applies during the season

Reply to  Big Mac #1
9 months ago

Misread on my part (or possibly a later addition)! I think my comment still holds though for the break periods which are in the ISL season but still seem to be restricted.

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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