Years Later, ISL Resumes Season 3 Solidarity Payments From 2021

Sources tell SwimSwam that the International Swimming League (ISL) has begun making Season 3 solidarity payments nearly two years after the organization blamed Russia’s war in Ukraine for continued delays.

One swimmer told SwimSwam that they received a text from ISL commissioner Ben Allen that the Tokyo Frog Kings’ solidarity payment had been sent to the team and that a plan was in place to make remaining payments That swimmer, who is on another team, says they still have not been paid yet.

Allen did not respond to SwimSwam’s request for comment.

The league’s founder and primary financier Konstantin Grigorishin was born in the USSR and acquired Ukrainian citizenship in 2016. Most of the billionaire’s business holdings are located in Ukraine, and he has also made money via the import of energy and natural resources from Russia. Prior to the outbreak of Russia’s war in Ukraine in February of 2022, the ISL said that the conflict wouldn’t impact funding of future seasons. Grigorishin was one of four Ukrainian businessmen who had their assets seized by the government last November.

The ISL repeatedly failed to make timely payments to swimmers, vendors, and other partners during its three seasons from 2019-21. Solidarity payments, essentially the swimmers’ base salary, were set at $7,500 for Season 3, which was half of what they were a season prior.

ISL swimmers were initially told that Season 3 solidarity payments would arrive in five monthly installments beginning in October of 2021.

In total, $6.9 million was earmarked for athletes in Season 3, with around $13 million scheduled for the Season 4 that never happened. The league has been publicly silent since cancelling Season 4 in March 2022 after the outbreak of war between Ukraine and Russia, the personal and financial homelands of the league’s financier and principle investor Konstantin Grigorishin. Sources have told SwimSwam, though, that Allen, especially, is continuing to push forward on the possibility of restarting the endeavor.

The ISL was accused of financial mismanagement by the former general manager of Energy Standard Club and the ex-commercial director of the ISL in a letter to SwimSwam in September of 2021.

“The work has not been easy,” the ISL said after reports surfaced that Season 1 vendors still had not been paid their full amount owed ahead of Season 3. “For the first two seasons, we have been mostly focused on showcasing athlete talent and our product to the widest audience possible. We had hoped for meaningful revenues to come in but alongside the impact of the pandemic our commercial operations have also failed significantly with most projections not materialising. The way we approach the market will need to be different going forward.”

There was also conversation among athletes to boycott the events for non-payment.

Last January, the ISL lost a long-running legal dispute against World Aquatics in which the league accused the global governing body of antitrust violations. World Aquatics (then FINA) threatened suspensions if swimmers participated in the 2018 Energy for Swim competition, but a U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco still ruled against the ISL in part because they deemed World Aquatics’ cooperation unnecessary for the ISL to host its own meets. The league and a trio of swimmers — Tom Shields, Michael Andrew, and Katinka Hosszufiled an appeal last June.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1650 Onetrick
3 months ago

i bet lebron james is behind this somehow after all

3 months ago

Lets not forget that Ben Allen and Matt Dawe are crypto debtors. Crypto is pumping, so a safe assumption is that Grigorshin bought off some of their bad debt (instead of paying the athletes) with instructions to convert crypto assets to USD when the bull market is returning. Anyways, one anonymous (unverified) swimmer report isn’t enough. Get Kitjima or Dave Salo to comment and this worthy news.

Reply to  StandTallLetsGo
3 months ago

The one swimmers is neither unverified nor anonymous to us, and we spoke to at least four sources who gave the same information.

3 months ago

Get Mr.Beast to sponsor the ISL. Create silly videos/swimming challenges with the ISL swimmers. Profit.

Reply to  Facts
3 months ago

Mr. Beast would put 2 swimmers per lane and let them bump and grind during races.
Or have a “whoever can stay in the pool the longest wins $100,000”.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

is youtube on board w/ bumpin’ and grindin’

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

“I’ll be giving $10,000,000 to whoever can stay in this pool for an entire year without getting out once”

I miss the ISL
3 months ago


3 months ago

The payment issues caused a lost of retirings!

Reply to  SSNP
3 months ago

The ritirings would’ve happened even sooner without ISL.

3 months ago

Only way ISL works is to turn it into a reality tv show and stream it on Netflix or something. No one knows swimmers outside of the olympics so if they manage to ride the post olympic hype wave it could workout.

Reply to  Hekkdh
3 months ago

I honestly love the idea of the meets live on a streaming service, maybe with interviews / pre meet coverage packaged in episodes that you can watch on demand outside of the meets.

ESPECIALLY post olympics if they get a good chunk of the medal winners, they could potentially get a good amount of interest I would think

Reply to  jess
3 months ago

Yeah this was one of the great paradoxes of the ISL. There was a TON of talk about post-modernism and reinventing sport and etc, but they clung to legacy media like print newspapers and over-the-air television.

Reply to  Hekkdh
3 months ago

You’re not wrong…take a deep dive (no pun intended) into a few swimmer swimmers and a significant meet each episode similar to break point. Could be pretty good and could move beyond the isl while also getting some of the second tier pros some $$$

3 months ago

I just assumed it already died after not returning last year. They need to ditch the idea of having a very long season because it’s never gonna work.

Just Keep Swimming
Reply to  Troyy
3 months ago

Should they make it like World Cups? Four week season? Or four week regular season then top 4 teams swim the final a week or two later?

3 months ago

Leverage the league’s finance with 💵 of a Russian / UKR oligarch. What could possibly go wrong? 🤔

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

Read More »