Echoing fellow international swimmer Cate Campbell’s opinion on the FINA/International Swim League (ISL) conflict, World Record holder Adam Peaty of Great Britain gave his candid thoughts on the subject.
Regarding swimming’s current state under FINA rule, 23-year-old Peaty told BBC Sport this week, “It feels like we’re still in 1970. [FINA] need to listen to the athletes and hear what they want instead of saying: ‘You need it this way.’ The whole sport needs to change and that’s something I’m very passionate about.”
Peaty has criticized the FINA-sanctioned World Cup Series in the past, most recently in August when the organization used his image to promote the Series when he hadn’t even entered the event. At the time, the Loughborough athlete responded, “Maybe they need to put them at a time of year when people want to race as well 50/50 SC and LC.”
Flash forward to this week and Peaty communicated that, “The current [World Cup Series] format isn’t working because no-one is watching and 90% of the world’s best athletes don’t turn up because there’s no prestige.
“If you build the prestige around an event, by building up rivalries and promoting the athletes, then people will want to race for gold, not just the money.
“It [the ISL] is where the sport needs to go and I think FINA should be behind it,” added Peaty. “Until then it’s going to be a constant battle between FINA and athletes.”
Peaty was among the long list of elite athletes scheduled to race at the Energy for Swim before it was cancelled due to tense negotiations between the Italian Swimming Federation and FINA.
“At the moment we have one major swim per year, but we need more,” said Peaty. “Look at other sports like triathlon, a few years ago they launched their professional World Series where athletes are paid handsomely.
“I’m lucky that I have good sponsors, but not all of the top swimmers get paid what they deserve given the effort they’re putting in.
“We need to have professional teams, salaries, pensions and by doing that and offering money, more kids will come into it thinking ‘I can make a career out of this’ which will only make the sport grow.”
“Obviously there are a lot of politics, but from an athletes’ perspective whether it takes four years or 10 years I think it’s going to happen,” Peaty told BBC Sport.