Swimming’s protest turns into full scale mutiny
AUSTRALIA'S new long distance swim king Jack McLoughlin is heading to the Big Apple after being signed up by the New York Breakers in the rebel International Swimming League.
Fresh from sweeping the 400m, 800m, and 1500m freestyle treble at the world championship trials, the long-haired Queenslander has landed himself a lucrative gig in one of the most sought after franchises in the breakaway league.
McLoughlin will be joined in Gotham City by two of his teammates, Rio gold medallist Madi Wilson and Commonwealth Games champion Clyde Lewis, as Australia's top swimmers jump on board the new professional league that is transforming the sport forever.
"We're pretty stoked to have those three Aussie swimmers for the NY Breakers," the team's co-owner and star sprinter Michael Andrew said.
"Although we're a US team, New York stands for being a melting pot of different nationalities so to have three great Aussies swim for us is really special."
Dual Rio medallist Maddie Groves has been snapped up by Team Iron, which is based in Budapest and owned by Hungarian superstar Katinka Hosszu.
There are now a total of 24 Australian swimmers contracted to the ISL, and the London Roar - which has snared a dozen Dolphins including Olympic gold medallists Kyle Chalmers, Cate Campbell, Bronte Campbell and Emma McKeon - has also enlisted two top Australian coaches, Peter Bishop and David Lush.
Bishop already coaches Chalmers in Adelaide while Australian coach of the year Lush counts Emily Seebohm and Minna Atherton among his squad members. Atherton will swim for London while Seebohm will compete for the Energy Standard team, based in Turkey and France.
Depending on how well their teams do, each swimmer could earn up to $100,000 in the inaugural series, which runs from early October to late December.
All of the swimmers will receive appearance money as well as competing for a total prizemoney pool of $7.5 million, a fortune in a sport where many of the world's best struggle to make minimum wage. And as the competition grows, the earning potential will increase to the point where the very best can make millions.
"Swimming has been in the dark ages for way too long," Andrew said.
"It's really frustrating because obviously in the Olympics, it's the most viewed sport and brings in a lot of revenue but the athletes never see that and the ISL is going to bridge that gap."
Australia's swimmers have been leading the global push to get the breakaway league off the ground despite facing threats from the sport's world governing body.
FINA threatened to ban swimmers from competing at next year's Tokyo Olympics if they joined ISL, but Australians including sprint queen Cate Campbell pressured the sport's notoriously stubborn leaders into a backflip allowing anyone to join ISL.
Andrew, one of three plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit that has been filed against FINA's running of the sport, said Australians were playing a major role in the swimmer-led mutiny.
"Having Cate Campbell and other kingpin star athletes around the world speaking up in favour of the ISL, or just in favour of growth of our sport in general, it's been really good because having their voice unifies the rest of the athletes," Andrew said.
"It's one thing to have one or two athletes speak up and want change but when you have a number of the best athletes in the world, they create this following, they become leaders of a new generation."
AUSTRALIANS WHO HAVE SIGNED FOR ISL
NY Breakers - USA
Team Iron - Budapest
Cali Condors - USA
London Roar - Britain
DC Trident - Washington D.C
Aqua Centurions - Rome
Energy Standard - Turkey/France