SwimSwam Pulse: 80% Say Swimmers Are Determining ISL Team Fandom

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers how they pick which ISL franchise to root for:


Question: How do you decide which ISL team to root for?

  • The swimmers on the team – 80.0%
  • The team’s location – 10.1%
  • Something else – 4.6%
  • Coolest/best mascot or team name – 4.3%
  • The team’s coaches/GM – 1.0%

An overwhelming majority of voters say the swimmers on each team’s roster are the deciding factor in which International Swimming League franchise they’ve been rooting for.

80% of voters said the swimmers on the team has determined their early ISL fandom, with no other polling option getting more than 10% of the votes. That tracks with what most would expect – in a sport that has mostly been individually-oriented (with the notable exception of NCAA swimming), fans have connected more with individual athletes than they have with other aspects of the brand-new ISL franchises.

Somewhat surprising: despite the early focus on the general managers of each franchise, only 1% of voters said that determined their fandom. The GMs were the only thing we knew about each team for some time, with rosters coming fairly late in the game. And despite many of the GMs being notable former athletes themselves, not many fans are placing rooting importance on the managers or coaching staffs of any teams.

Team location polled 10%. That’s also a little surprising, given how little the team location means. Only about half of the ISL franchises will even host a meet in their ‘home’ city. The London Roar effectively host the European derby in London and the American derby in College Park Maryland is about as close to Washington, D.C. as you can get. Naples, Italy is roughly the home of the Italy-based Aqua Centurions, and Budapest, Hungary is central for the Hungary-based Iron franchise. Meanwhile Energy Standard, the LA Current, the New York Breakers and the Cali Condors don’t have a meet anywhere close to their home base, and the other meets (Indianapolis, IN; Lewisville, TX; Las Vegas, NV) aren’t even remotely ‘home’ meets for any franchise.

At the same time, the athletes in each franchise have at best tenuous ties to their location. Washington D.C.-born Katie Ledecky is probably the athlete most tied to their location on the American side. Still, the location is an easy ‘in’ for fans in that city, and it’s possible we’ll see the ISL teams develop a better connection with their local community if the league grows in future years.

Only about 4.3% used the franchise name or mascot to determine fandom. That was less than the catch-all “something else” option.


Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks voters to weigh in on the push to allow college athletes to earn money from their names, images and likenesses:

The NCAA allowing student-athletes to earn profit from their names, images and likenesses would be:

View Results

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner

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2 years ago

To those who didn’t vote for the swimmers on the team or even location, please explain yourselves.

Reply to  DBSwims
2 years ago

Obvious answer would be “whichever is the best team.” If only 4.6% chose their favorite team based on which team is winning, that’s probably a much lower rate than we see in the major professional sports leagues….

2 years ago

I’m just rooting for whoever has Caeleb Dressel

Reply to  Devin
2 years ago

Too predictable .

Matty Ice
2 years ago

Is this a new concept altogether? Like the swimming response to the NFL? Does anyone even go watch this stuff?

Reply to  Matty Ice
2 years ago

Quite a few people did in Naples. Not so much in Indy because none of the teams are from Indy. It’d be like having a pats/giants game in Dallas. Besides that it’s been doing well

Reply to  Matty Ice
2 years ago

It’s great fun. Been very enjoyable so far.

And NFL didn’t invent the concept of team sport.

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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