Organisers of the International Swimming League have confirmed that the inaugural edition of the competition will begin in Indianapolis in October and conclude in Las Vegas in December.
Designed to shake up the sport with a fast-paced, team-competition format, the ISL will feature the likes of Katie Ledecky, Adam Peaty, Nathan Adrian, Ryan Murphy and Simone Manuel, who will serve as official ambassadors of the league.
The series will travel to seven cities across the US and Europe during its inaugural campaign. After launching in Indianapolis on October 4-5, the ISL travels to Naples, Italy for an event on October 12-13 before heading back to the US the following week for a leg in Lewisville, Texas.
The Hungarian capital of Budapest will then host on October 26-27 before Maryland stages a leg on November 15-16. The ISL heads back to Europe for an event at the London Aquatics Centre on November 23-24 before the season finale at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on December 20-21.
More than 200 swimmers have already signed up to compete in the ISL, which organisers hope will provide athletes with greater opportunities to swim competitively outside of the Olympic Games, as well as financial support and year-round recognition.
Paris Jacobs, chief operating officer of the American Swimming Coaches Association and ISL management consultant, said: “Swimming is the most-watched sport at the Olympic Games and we expect the ISL will generate nationwide engagement which will lead to long-term sustainability not just for the league, but for the entire sport of swimming.”
Organisers last month confirmed the four US teams that will compete in the ISL: Los Angeles Current, DC Trident, San Francisco-based Cali Condors and New York Breakers. The European teams have yet to be formally announced but it has been reported that franchises will be based in London, Budapest, France and Rome.
Mixed-gender teams will compete for points in sprint, relay and skin races. Swimmers will compete for team points, with total gender equality of 12 men and 12 women per team.
The league has faced opposition from Fina, the global governing body of aquatic sports. Fina said in December that it was prepared to mount a “robust defence” against class-action lawsuits filed against it by three leading swimmers and ISL organisers, with the competition claiming Fina is leveraging its market dominance to extract, and largely keep for itself, significant levels of revenue.
Fina has since launched its own Champions Swim Series, which debuted in Guangzhou, China last month.