BERLIN (AFP) – Uli Braunschweig loves to remember his season in the International Swimming League. “I can only speak very positively about it,” said the Berlin backstroke swimmer from the German news agency DPA. “The time I had with the others was so wonderful.”
Because of the war in Ukraine, this period will not last for Braunschweig and his colleagues this year. The innovative and controversial competition series founded by Ukrainian businessman Kostyantin Grigorischin in 2019 has been canceled for the 2022 season.
2022 Contest Series Canceled
“Many of our ISL colleagues remain trapped in Kyiv and the conflict appears to be continuing for the foreseeable future,” the Swimming Association said in late March. One cannot currently commit to hosting trade contests this year. For athletes, the cancellation not only means that there will be no sporting encounters with many of the stars of the scene. It also has financial consequences.
“My base salary is about $7,500 for the full season, plus bonuses,” Braunschweig said. “It’s really a lot of money for us swimmers.” The 24-year-old is not among the high-income earners. Top international athletes, such as American star Caeleb Dressel or Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström, can earn six-figure sums in a single season.
Braunschweig emphasizes exchange
Unlike traditional swimming events such as the Olympics or the World Championships, swimmers compete against each other on international teams at ISL, which is not noticed by the public in this country. They train together and share exercise methods. “I learned a lot,” Braunschweig said. “And the team spirit with the other top swimmers was fantastic.”
While Braunschweig and many of his colleagues celebrated the ISL, the global association Fina opposed the project from the start. The league, which organizes its competitions in the form of large displays with lights, animation and music, can cause problems for the national associations.
Christian Hansmann, Director of Competitive Sports at DSV, recently told “Süddeutsche Zeitung” https://www.sueddeutsche.de/sport/. Our training camps are exhausted, we have a little problem with that.”
DM, EM and WM this summer
Even without the league, the swimming calendar is full this year. From June 17 to July 3, the World Championships, scheduled for a very short period, will be held in Budapest and will overlap with the German Championships. The European Championship begins in Rome in just five weeks.
Given the density of dates, it was still an open question for the World Cup rookie in Braunschweig whether he would be able to take part in this year’s ISL. A year without the league “is not an existential threat” to him, as he himself says. “Because I am employed in the Bundeswehr as a sports soldier and I also receive support from my club and from sports aid, I can cover my expenses.”
Against the backdrop of the war, the Olympian believes it makes sense for the ISL to take a breather. “In addition, from season two to season three, ISL had problems paying in full on time,” Braunschweig said. Other swimmers have also reported it. “I didn’t see a cent from last season because everything was postponed because of the war and the money had to be brought in from somewhere,” Braunschweig said. The season is due to be compensated in 2023.
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