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


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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