International Swimming League To Follow Major Football Codes Out Of Lockdown On The Gold Coast

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GOLD COAST AQUATIC CENTRE during the 2018 Commonwealth Games, will be the focal venue for the ISL on the Gold Coast. Photo Gold Coast Events.

The organisers of the multi million-dollar International Swimming League (ISL) are moving heaven and earth to make swimming the next major sport to surface from the global pandemic and make a splash on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

As revealed by Swimming World in April and June, the ISL remains committed to bringing 300 of the world’s best swimmers to the Gold Coast in October and November and to break out of the COVID-19 bubble.

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RINGS OF CONFIDENCE: London-based Australian Olympian Rob Woodhouse tab the forefront of ISL negotiations with the Queensland Government.Photo Courtesy: TLA

Swimming World can reveal today that Australian Olympian and the founder of international sports management group TLA, London-based Rob Woodhouse, has become the driving force in negotiations with the Queensland Government. Woodhouse, the General Manager of Talent for TLA and also the Manager of English-based ISL franchise the London Roar, is working day and night to make the ISL happen.

The Roar features a host of Australian Dolphins, including Cate and Bronte Campbell, Emma McKeon, Kyle Chalmers and the ISL debut season’s world record-breaking backstroker Minna Atherton.

A pending announcement will see swimming follow the major Australian football codes the AFL and NRL, as well as Super Netball and the V8 Supercars to set up training and playing hubs in South East Queensland –which is fast becoming a safe haven in a sports loving nation, like everywhere else in the world, desperate to provide sport as a conduit to some form of normality in a world in lockdown.

And life in Queensland is providing light at the end of the horrific COVID-19 pandemic tunnel, giving hope that life is slowly but surely finding a way back.

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DOLPHINS BRAINS TRUST: Jess Corones, Rohan Taylor and Jacco Verhaeren  Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

Out-going Australian Swim Team National head coach Jacco Verhaeren has told Swimming World that Woodhouse has become the driving force to get the ISL to the Gold Coast.

“Rob is leading the project from an ISL perspective to get all set up here (on the Gold Coast) on the Gold Coast and is doing an incredible amount of work behind the scenes,” said Verhaeren today, as he prepared to attend the first Virtual Meet at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.

“ISL is still very committed to coming to the Gold Coast; that remains the plan; they recognise that all the internationals coming in would need to go into quarantine (for two weeks) first before they start racing and remaining separated from the Australians.

“After those two weeks and ensuring the coast is clear and all protocols are adhered to they can then start their competitions.

“ISL certainly has solid plans but of course it all depends on the COVID-19 situation and how it evolves not just in Australia of course but also around the world to lock in all the travel exemptions.

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Making a big splash in the pool and the culture of the sport: The International Swimming League set to surface on the Gold Coast in October/November 2020. – Photo Courtesy: Fabio Ferrari/lapresse

“But they are very committed to come to the Gold Coast and that’s great news.

“It would be easy to say its not on but at the moment – and it’s the same with Australia’s meets,’ they are on until they’re not.’

“No one can predict the future but obviously the health and not just of the athletes and all the people coming in but also of the Australian community is at the forefront of any decision if it is ultimately possible or not.

“Queensland is truly the sporting State here in Australia at the moment with the AFL, the NRL, Super Netball and the V8 Supercars – everyone is coming this way.

“I think that’s great for Queensland and not just the climate but also the fact that it seems to be a very safe State at the moment and is also encouraging these initiatives which no doubt will have a positive affect ultimately on the economy and gets things going as well.

“But with ISL you talk about a lot of athletes coming from around the world, as well as coaches and staff and it would make for a very interesting case to see if Queensland together with ISL can pull off a competition of this magnitude.

“I’m sure that other parties in the world will look at that especially with the Australian Open Tennis still on the cards in January.

“There will be a lot of learnings that can and will be taken from this case so fingers crossed it can all happen.

“I do know that the ISL people are preparing for it as if it happens and so they should – that should be the mindset of every athlete and everyone who wants to organise competitions these days, preparing for it to happen and if not to have a plan B in place and a plan C.

“Of course there are a lot of ifs and buts in every scenario but it is good particularly for the athletes and the coaches who are still working and training hard every day and they do so now as well.

“We are very fortunate here in Queensland that from a High Performance position everybody can train and they are definitely looking forward to having competition opportunities and if its possible and ISL comes over to Australia in October and November that would be very exciting for the athletes and I also think for the Australian community and the Gold Coast particularly…”

Australia will roll out it’s first Virtual Meets on the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sunshine Coast and Adelaide today featuring a host of Olympians including the favoured venue for the ISL – the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre – home of the 2014 Pan Pacs and the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

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VIRTUAL RACER: Clyde Lewis will headline Australia’s first Virtual Meet at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centyre today. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia Ltd.

On show on the Gold Coast over 300m freestyle will be Clyde Lewis (St Peters Western), David McKeon (Griffith University), Jack McLoughlin (Chandler), Alex Graham (Bond), Lani Pallister (Cotton Tree) and Maddy Gough and Moesha Johnson (TSS Aquatic)

In the mixed strokes women’s 50, 75 and 150m three-time Olympian Emily Seebohm and Griffith training partner Jess Unicomb will race backstroke, Rio Olympian Georgia Bohl (Griffith) and Chelsea Hodges (Southport Olympic) breaststroke while four-time Rio Olympic medallist Emma McKeon (Griffith) will line up against a host of young guns in the 150m butterfly.

Form strokers, Rio Olympians David Morgan (TSS Aquatic in butterfly), Mitch Larkin (St Peters Western, IM) and prospective Tokyo Olympian Zac Stubblety-Cook (Chandler, breaststroke) will be in action over the 50, 75 and 150 distances.

 

 

 

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