ISL Unveils Meet Info, Events, Lineup, Scoring & Prize Money Systems

The International Swimming League has published its technical information, breaking down event schedules, scoring, lineups and more.

We’ll break down all the info as best we can below. You can see a PDF with all the technical information by clicking here.

Meet Format

Each meet will be two days long, and each day will be broken up into 3 sessions. The main competitive aspect of these sessions is that each team can submit lineup adjustments during the breaks in sessions. That means teams can adjust their lineups on the fly based on how the meet is going to that point.

  • Each team will get 2 entries into each event, individual or relay.
    • Each team will have its own two lanes it uses for every event in that day. Lanes are randomly assigned.
  • The meet lineup includes the 50 through 400 free, 50 through 200 of back, breast and fly, 200 and 400 IMs and five relays: men’s and women’s 4×100 medleys, men’s and women’s 4×100 frees, and a mixed 4×100 free relay. If a meet comes down to a tie at the finish, a mixed 4×50 medley relay will be used as a tiebreaker.
  • Skins races: the meets will also include ‘skins’ races, or multi-round 50 free shootouts. In round 1, 8 athletes start, and 4 move to round 2. From there, the top two move into the final round. Each round will take place 3 minutes apart, and athletes can not use the competition pool for cool down in between.

Here’s a look at the event lineup, assuming the breaks come after each relay event:

Women’s Event # Day 1 Men’s Event #
1 100 Fly 2
3 50 Breast 4
5 400 IM 6
4×100 Free Relay
9 200 Back 8
11 50 Free 10
4×100 Medley Relay 12
13 200 Free 14
15 50 Back 16
17 200 Breast 18
4×100 Free Relay 19
Women’s Event # Day 2 Men’s Event #
20 100 Free 21
22 100 Breast 23
24 400 Free 25
4×100 Medley Relay
28 200 IM 27
30 50 Fly 29
32 100 Back 31
33 4×100 Mixed Free Relay 33
34 200 Fly 35
36 50 Free Skins 37
38 4×50 Mixed Medley (if tiebreak needed) 38


Here’s how each event will score for team points:

Individual Event Relay Event Skins Race
1st 9 18 27
2nd 7 14 21
3rd 6 12 12
4th 5 10 10
5th 4 8 4
6th 3 6 3
7th 2 4 2
8th 1 2 1

Relays count for double, and skins races effectively triple, though if you get eliminated in the first round, your point totals drop significantly.

Penalties For No-Shows and Dogging Races

The format will also penalize teams if an athlete does not appear for their race (DNS)does not finish their race (DNF), or disqualifies (DQ). Teams will also lose points if an athlete is slower than a certain benchmark time in any event:

  • No-show (DNS): -4 points or -8 per relay
  • Did not finish (DNF): -2 points or -4 per relay
  • Skins races:
    • A DNS in round 1 is -4. In round 2 it moves up to -8, and in the final to -12.
    • A DNF in round 1 is -2. In round 2 it moves up to -4, and in the final to -6.
  • Slower than benchmark time: -1 point for individuals or -2 points for relays from what the swimmer or relay would have scored. (An 8th-place individual going slower than one of these times would score zero points. A 7th-place individual going slower than one of these times would score one).
    • benchmark times below (in short course meters):

Team Standings

At the end of each meet, teams earn points toward the overall standings. These points are entirely separate from the meet points described above.

  • 1st place team: 4
  • 2nd place team: 3
  • 3rd place team: 2
  • 4th place team: 1

The top 2 US and top 2 European clubs at the end of the season will advance to the championship meet.

Prize Money

Athletes will also earn prize money based on a third set of point values. Relays count as double points, but each athlete gets 25% of the total points. Since that’s a lot of math, we’ve calculated it in a simpler way below. Skins races count triple:

Individual Event Relay Event Skins Race
1st 6 3 18
2nd 4 2 12
3rd 2 1 6
4th 1 0.5 3

Each “prize money point” correlates to a dollar amount: $300 per point in the regular season and $1000 per point in the final.

In addition, athletes earn:

  • $1000 per swimmer per match attended for swimmers whose club makes the final and who participate in the final (i.e. swimmers on clubs that don’t make the final don’t make this; if a club makes the final but a swimmer skips the final, they also don’t make this).
  • $10,000 per swimmer for the winning team in the final
  • $5,000 per swimmer for the 2nd-place team in the final
  • $3,000 per swimmer for the 3rd-place team in the final
  • $1,000 per swimmer for the 4th-place team in the final

The big prizes are heavily weighted to the winning teams, and athletes will have to get their team to the final to earn the biggest bonuses.

Other Odds & Ends

MVP Bonus

Each meet will have its own MVP, and so will the whole series:

  • Meet MVP: the man or woman with the most team score points (not prize money points) in that meet.
  • Season MVP: the man or woman with the most team score points (not prize money points) for the entire season.

Travel Roster

  • The ISL suggests travel rosters of 24 (12 men and 12 women), plus two men and two women as “substitites.” The total roster a club can have is 32. It’s unclear whether teams are actually restricted to the limit of 24, as it’s listed as a suggestion.


Each club gets one captain and one vice-captain, and they have to be of different genders.

You can see the full team & technical information on the ISL website here.

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A Concerned Distance Swimmer
4 years ago

The ISL needs to add an elimination mile to make distance swimming both entertaining and viable, like they have in track. Every 300m (or 200m for an elimination 800) the slowest swimmer is eliminated from the race. Very exciting to watch, no two races are quite the same.

Becky D
Reply to  A Concerned Distance Swimmer
4 years ago

Like track cycling “miss and out” — I like it!

Reply to  Becky D
4 years ago

Even better idea is a handicap when leading swimmer doesn’t even know at the beginning of the race how much behind he/she is already. That makes them swim hard.
I remember such system at tennis competition organized annually by our park district. Everybody could win the main prize. Even young kids. And it was prestigious and substantial.

Reply to  A Concerned Distance Swimmer
4 years ago

I’ve seen a few elimination miles in track and they’ve all been extremely entertaining and dramatic.

I’m not sure how it would actually work in swimming – you’d need a way to signal the last place person. I guess it’s SCM, so you can just put a red X on the counter on the next 25?

Reply to  Barry
4 years ago

That would be clever.

Reply to  Barry
4 years ago

There is already the way to indicate the end of the race for the swimmer in long distance competition – the bell. What is the need to invent something different?
If you are afraid of confusion make it of different sound: like emergency or police car 😀

Becky D
Reply to  Barry
4 years ago

I would not want to have to swim even an extra 25 if I were knocked out. There are all kinds of nifty lighting systems that run along the bottom of the pool for training. Why not use something like that? Either color change or system on/off.

Reply to  A Concerned Distance Swimmer
4 years ago

great idea. weird strategy time.

4 years ago

Imho LCM would deliver much bigger media coverage.

4 years ago

This is all good, but will they have a good media partner that doesn’t geoblock, is readily available through purchasing streaming to an individual meet or all meets, doesn’t require your cable provider to carry a certain channel, is always streamed from the same site (e.g., not the crazy way USA swimming and NBC do it mixing and matching coverage), doesn’t tape delay and … even better allows us to view the stream after the fact when timezones and life don’t allow us hardcore swimfans to watch live?

Basically, are they committed to building an audience by making it dead easy to consume?

Bo Swims
Reply to  1001pools
4 years ago

I want to see a direct subscription so the revenue gets where it needs to go – the swimmers.

Reply to  Bo Swims
4 years ago

And if it loses money, do you charge the athletes?

4 years ago

Anyone else got tickets for London match?

Reply to  Laura
4 years ago


4 years ago

It will be interesting to see if the teams are actually going to fill up their roster with the maximum of 32. It looks like team Iron and London Roar probably will but the other teams probably still have around 8 possible signings still to go.

Reply to  Jeff
4 years ago

Simone hasn’t signed anywhere?

4 years ago

Penalizing athletes for no-showing is interesting, means Dressel can’t enter 30 races and scratch 25 of them

Reply to  Nswim
4 years ago

Or Schooling

4 years ago

When I first saw the benchmark times, I was thinking that they were extremely fast, but then I realized it’s in scm…

Sounds awful
4 years ago

Why aren’t swimmers allowed to warm down after a skins race? Is the point to have fast swims or test their lactate tolerance?

Reply to  Sounds awful
4 years ago

Test lacate tolerance.

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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