Ella Eastin Excited for ‘Future of Professional Swimming’ With ISL

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Ella Eastin will be part of the ISL's first season. Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

Ella Eastin, LA Current. In the lead-up to the first International Swimming League pro-team season, Swimming World will look at some of the pioneers of a new chapter unfolding in the sport. Today: 2018 NCAA Swimmer of the Year.

Pioneers Of Pro-Team Swimming

Olivia Smoliga
Katie McLaughlin
Ian Finnerty
Amy Bilquist
• Ella Eastin

Ella Eastin is simply driven by the chance to race.

When things are going well, she wants to race. When things are not, she wants to race.

That competitive drive has made Eastin one of the world’s elite swimmers, and now she will get another opportunity to race the top swimmers in the world.

Eastin, a 12-time NCAA champion from Stanford, will compete in the first season of the International Swimming League this fall, competing for the LA Current.

“I don’t really know what to expect, but I know because of all of the people who are going to be competing, it will be a really good opportunity to race,” Eastin told Swimming World.

After finishing ninth at worlds in the 200 IM, Eastin, like most of the participants in the upstart league, has a greater focus on 2020, but is looking forward to figuring out how to use the ISL as a training boost during one of the most tiring parts of the training season.

“The time of the season is going to be interesting because it is going to force people to get up and compete when they are tired. I think that is going to be really good for training and is especially good for post-grad swimmers training with college teams who have competitions of their own. It gives us a chance to look forward to some competition in the fall,” she said. “I don’t have a ton of experience with short-course meters, but I love short course. I am excited about the turns. It is going to take some adjusting, but it gives everybody an opportunity to race without having too much of a reference to how fast they are going.”

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Ella Eastin; Photo Courtesy: Dan D’Addona

That takes the pressure off. A poor race in the ISL is just a poor race. It doesn’t mean anything more than that as athletes are training for a chance at making the Olympics.

“It gives you something to focus on, but isn’t going to be detrimental. Every time you get up to race, it is good practice. I am looking at it as an opportunity and not something to stress myself out,” Eastin said. “I know that every time I get up to swim long course in the next year, it is going to force me to think and maybe be a little more stressed than when I am swimming short-course meters. It is giving my body the opportunity to race at a high level without stressing my brain so much. I am hoping I can manage it and use it to benefit me instead of forcing to me to do more reflection than I need at this point.”

Eastin will try to save that reflection for later. She wants to remember being part of a pioneer league and competing with former teammates and rivals on the same LA Current squad.

“It is going to be really fun. Some of my teammates are some of my best friends,” she said. “(Cal’s) Katie McLaughlin has been one of my good friends since I was 9 years old. We did the Pac-12/USA Challenge together and have been on multiple Team USA trips together. We know what it is like to race against each other, but also what it is like to race for each other. This is only going to make Team USA stronger moving forward, giving everybody the opportunity to cheer for the people they will be heading into 2020 gunning for. That will provide really great competition, and that is going to benefit everyone involved.”

The benefit comes from the sport’s opportunity, and the way it has been handled by the swimmers and organizers.

“To me, it is a good indicator of growth in the sport. It is one of the first initiatives to really take off,” Eastin said. “Gender equality is extremely important. In sports, the women’s soccer team has shown over and over that they are incredible athletes and deserve equal pay. There isn’t a disparity in base payments in swimming right now and continuing that right now is going to be very important in showing the rest of the world that it is something that is standard. I am grateful for that, but I know it is not the norm in all sports. Hopefully, this is something that can shine a light on that.

“It is really important that something like this is starting for the future of professional swimming. I started my pro career at a good time. I hope 10 years from now, the scene looks different and provides even more opportunities for athletes. I am excited to be a part of the start of this.”

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick