Sisters on mission for swimming pro league
When they're finally done with swimming, Cate and Bronte Campbell don't want to be judged by the races they won and lost.
Nor do they want to be remembered for the medals they collected or the records they broke.
Their mission is to leave a more lasting legacy, dragging their antiquated sport into the new millennium by helping establish a fully professional league that can do for swimming what the Big Bash has done for cricket.
Once just a pipe dream, the idea is suddenly becoming real, with Australians at the frontline of a rebellion that has inspired swimmers around the world to take a united stand against the governing body that has run the sport with an iron fist.
"It's really exciting and I think that it could change the global landscape of swimming forever," Cate said.
"When I'm 70 years old and swimming's a huge international sport, I want to be able to say to young kids that I was part of that movement because swimming needs to move with the times."
However, convincing swimming's world governing body to start paying swimmers better and to give them a say in how the sport is run won't be easy. FINA is widely regarded as one of the most autocratic sporting bodies in the world, with major questions surrounding its governance.
FINA's most senior positions are all held by older men, who rarely consult with athletes on key decisions, such as where to spend the millions of dollars the sport makes.
Only a small fraction is redistributed through prizemoney.
But now the sport's worst-kept secret is out in the open.
FINA has well and truly lost the dressing room after making a shameless threat to ban swimmers from competing at the Tokyo Olympics if they joined the breakaway professional competition.
They quickly abandoned that bullying tactic once the swimmers realised the power they had when they stuck together, threatening a counter-boycott of FINA events while pledging allegiance to the International Swimming League (ISL), which launched legal action against the ruling body's monopoly.
"You need a little bit of turbulence - you need a little bit of confrontation to drive a push," Bronte said.
"Obviously a big shake-up that destroys the governing body or creates too much conflict is not really want we want for our sport.
"We want it to be accessible for more people and for swimmers to be given a fair go by being able to support themselves but it's not like that at the moment."
Leaving Brisbane and relocating to Sydney is just the start of their pilgrimage to save swimming. If everything goes to plan, the next step could be living in Europe or North America and competing on the new professional circuit.
Cate has already committed to joining the inaugural ISL season later this year, which will run from August to December.
She has been thinking about retiring after the Tokyo Olympics but if the ISL takes off as she expects, she wants to stay in the sport for longer, in the same way top cricketers extend their time in the sport through the BBL after finishing with Test cricket.
"Swimming is one of those sports that kind of anchors you to one place in life and for a long time that's been Brisbane," Cate said.
"I would have moved away from Brisbane before now if it hadn't been for swimming and now it's moved me down to Sydney but I would love to go and live overseas and, if I could, train and compete."
Bronte also intends to join the ISL, but is weighing up whether to take the plunge this year or hold off until after the 2020 Olympics.
Her situation is complicated by a shoulder injury that hasn't completely healed, even after she took an extended break following the Commonwealth Games, and which must be managed carefully in the lead-up to Tokyo.
"If they approach me and say 'do you want to be a part of it', it'll be a hard thing to say no, because I really, really want to do it," she said.
Other top Australian swimmers are already in the process of signing up for ISL - an innovative team competition offering $7.5 million in prizemoney, culminating in a grand final in Las Vegas - but they aren't completely turning their backs on FINA.
Australia will send a full-strength team to this year's world championships in South Korea, and Cate plans to swim in the opening leg of the $5.4 million Champions Swim Series, which FINA recently created in response to ISL.
FINA is offering $4000 appearance money just for showing up to the invitation-only event as well as cash prizes between $7000 and $14,000 for every race they enter - amounts that swimmers have never seen before.
A handful of Australians, including Rio Olympic champions Kyle Chalmers and Mack Horton, have received invitations and could join Cate at the first leg in China before skipping second and third rounds in Hungary and the United States because they are too close to the Australian championships.
Cate also intends to race in FINA's annual World Cup series, but only the Asian legs in August as the rest clash with ISL, but it's a start in the right direction.
"It would have been nice to have some consultation with FINA around scheduling. It's great they've created this new competition but it could have been scheduled a lot better," Cate said.
"The world is constantly evolving and swimming just hasn't kept up and hopefully we're going to bring it into the 21st century."
FINA v ISL
FINA (the establishment)
■ Founded: 1908
■ President: 81-year-old Uruguayan Julio Maglione
■ In charge of swimming, diving, water polo and synchronised swimming
■ Revenue: $164m in 2016-17
■ Redistributes 12.5 per cent of spending on prizemoney to swimmers
■ Establishing new invitation-only three-leg series offering prizemoney of $5.3 million
ISL (the rebels)
■ Founded: 2018
■ Key financier: Ukrainian billionaire Konstantin Grigorishin
■ Promised to give 50 per cent of profits back to swimmers
■ Inaugural series features around 360 swimmers
■ Franchises in London, Rome, Stuttgart, Marseilles, Budapest, Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington DC, Austin and Phoenix
Harbour City already firm favourite with Campbells
It hasn't taken long for Cate and Bronte Campbell to fall in love with Sydney after leaving their homes and families in Brisbane.
The sisters made the move south only because their longtime coach Simon Cusack was offered a plum job at the NSW Institute of Sport, to try to reinvigorate swimming in the state that produced the likes of Dawn Fraser and Ian Thorpe.
They're still finding their feet after starting training in Sydney last week but they're already head over heels with life in the Harbour City.
"It's been fantastic - it's just been such a nice little welcome to Sydney," Bronte told The Sunday Telegraph.
"Especially having daylight saving. It's very controversial in Brisbane, but as a swimmer, it's so nice to have it here."
The pair are living separately on the north shore and close to state-of-the training facilities at Pymble Ladies College, where they will be spending a lot of time in the lead-up to next year's Tokyo Olympics.
Their weekly workouts including nine sessions in the pool, three in the gym, two on spin bikes and two pilates classes.
"The facilities here are incredible. It's the best facility we've ever trained in," Cate said.
"The thought they've put into this program and the high-performance hub is going to be really pivotal for our success but also to help grow the sport in NSW."
Having trained in the same pool for most of their lives, both sisters expect the move to Sydney will improve their performances in the lead-up to Tokyo by providing fresh motivation.
There are other fringe benefits, too.
The move has also given Bronte the chance to spend more time with her Sydney-based boyfriend after years of commuting between the two cities. And now she's giving tips to her big sister, whose boyfriend remains in Brisbane, about long-distance romances.
"It's not that far so I keep saying people have to come and visit us in Sydney because there is a lot to do," Cate said.
"I've been going to a few beaches, checking out the national parks and heading into the city to get something really good to eat and even gone into a cafe that's open at 5pm instead of Brisbane, where they shut at 3 o'clock."
As smitten as the Campbells are with NSW, both are bullish that their allegiances will remain with Queensland when State of Origin rolls around.
"I made sure that I packed my maroon jersey," Cate said before Bronte dived in with: "That's why they call it State of Origin - it's where you come from.
"Also, just quietly, I prefer to back the winning side."