International Swimming League Unveils Schedule For Budapest Bubble

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The International Swimming League unveiled its schedule for the upcoming season in Budapest which will get underway October 16. There will be ten teams participating this year, up from eight in the inaugural season in 2019. Energy Standard is the defending champion after taking the inaugural title in Vegas last year over the London Roar, Cali Condors and LA Current.

The match series represents the qualifiers for the semi-finals set to happen in Budapest from November 19th, 2020.

  • October 16 – 17: Energy Standard, Cali Condors, New York Breakers, LA Current
  • October 18 – 19: London Roar, DC Trident, Aqua Centurions, Team Iron
  • October 24 – 25: Aqua Centurions, Tokyo Frog Kings, LA Current, Toronto Titans
  • October 26 – 27: DC Trident, Team Iron, Cali Condors, New York Breakers
  • October 31 – 1: London Roar, DC Trident, LA Current, Tokyo Frog Kings
  • November 2 – 3: Energy Standard, Aqua Centurions, New York Breakers, Toronto Titans
  • November 7 – 8: London Roar, Tokyo Frog Kings, Cali Condors, New York Breakers
  • November 9 – 10: Energy Standard, DC Trident, Toronto Titans, Team Iron
  • November 14 – 15: Energy Standard, Team Iron, Tokyo Frog Kings, Toronto Titans
  • November 14 – 15: London Roar, Cali Condors, LA Current, Aqua Centurions
  • November 19 – 20: TBD

International Swimming League rule changes include a twist to the skins – a series of back-to-back races which operate on a knockout basis, with the two remaining swimmers racing each other in a head-to-head final.

  • So too will there be points awarded after each round of the skins, another new innovation.This season the head coach of the winning men’s and women’s 4x100m medley relays will choose which stroke will be contested. For example, should London Roar be in pole position, they could look to the presence of Adam Peaty and Kirill Prigoda and select breaststroke whereas last year it was only freestyle.
  • Another addition is the jackpot time rule. Jackpot times are determined in advance: for instance, 1.35secs in the men’s 100 free. If the winner touches in 45secs, all those who are slower than 46.35 forfeit their points to the man who stopped the clock first.

Theoretically, that means an athlete can earn the full 37 points for their team should they finish the given margin ahead of the entire field. It also applies to relays and skins.

  • The 100IM for men and women have been added and will bring the program to a close at the end of the second day where it was the skins that concluded the meet last season.
  • In an echo of VAR technology in football, a head coach can dispute disqualifications on starts or relay exchanges using the video system referee.
  • Line-ups will be provided in advance but the head coach has the opportunity to change which athletes are going to swim in each event during the two breaks in the match each day.
  • Teams are allocated their own lanes eliminating confusion and making them recognizable.
  • So too ratings which are applied to swimmers to offer more insight to the fans with greater engagement the aim.
  • There are point penalties for the clubs in case of a swimmer’s disqualification or no-show in a race.
  • There are also cut-off time that the swimmers need to be inside. If they swim slower than those times, they are penalized (-1 for individual races and -2 for relay races).
  • All athletes will be paid $1500 per month from September 2020 to July 2021 when the rescheduled Olympic Games will take place.

The International Swimming League expects 750 participants (athletes, coaches, staff, etc.) from 40 to 45 countries for its second season, to begin arriving in the second week of October. Most participants will be in the country through Nov. 23. Swimmers will be the only residents of the Thermal Margitsziget Health Spa Hotel, Grand Hotel Margitsziget and Danubius Hotel Helia, with foreign participants getting single rooms. They will have exclusive use of Duna Arena and Dagály Thermal Bath and Swimming Pool – on an exclusive “enter, train, leave” policy – for the duration of the tournament.

Masks are required everywhere but the pool and gym, and the hotel will have dedicated rooms for team meetings. The ISL medical protocol will be overseen by Semmelweis University’s hospital hygiene department

Swimmers are not restricted to the bubble, but rather “may only move freely in the Bubble and on Margaret Island, excluding enclosed public spaces and entertainment venues, with the occasional period of stay outside of the Bubble being maximum 90 (ninety) minutes.” Swimmers are subject to pre-triage checks (health questionnaire, temperature screening) upon each bubble re-entry. Swimmers will have COVID-19 tests performed every five days in the bubble.

To enter the country, foreign swimmers must present: evidence of negative tests before arriving in Hungary (two negatives no more than five days old and at least 48 hours apart); or enter Hungary with one test less than three days old and be subject to supplemental screening; or swimmers can be exempt with evidence of a COVID-19 positive test within six months or positive serological test for antibodies (i.e. evidence of a past bout with the virus and some acquired immunity).

If a participant tests positive within the bubble, medical staff will isolate them until a test returns negative and trace their contacts.