Pro swimmers face opportunities, obstacles in quest for more prize money

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For eight days every four years, the sport of swimming takes center stage at the Olympics and its top athletes often become household names, if only for a few nights. A well-heeled Ukrainian businessman who is convinced swimming can do better has ambitious plans to launch a professional league that he says will better showcase the sport and compensate the world’s best swimmers.

But the nascent International Swimming League [ISL] has faced harsh resistance from FINA, the sport’s international governing body, which has blocked the start-up’s efforts by threatening swimmers’ Olympic eligibility. The dispute has prompted a federal antitrust lawsuit, sparked discussions around the pool deck about labor organizing and has cast a spotlight on the tilted economics that long have ruled the sport.

“Swimmers have the same level of talent like NBA players or soccer players, sometimes even more. But a swimmer who has talent like LeBron James receives 1,000 times less money,” said Konstantin Grigorishin, the ISL’s chief backer and financier. “We have to fix this.”

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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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