Launch of Australian Swimming League (ASL) Delayed to 2022 by COVID-19

Aug 1, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Kaylee McKeown (AUS), Chelsea Hodges (AUS) and Emma McKeon (AUS) celebrate their victory in the women's 4x100m medley final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports - Australia
Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher

Launch of Australian Swimming League (ASL) Delayed to 2022 by COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a delay in the launch of the Australian Swimming League (ASL) until at least early 2022, Reuters reports Wednesday.

The ASL was announced just before the Tokyo Olympics to take place in the fall. But ongoing lockdowns to control the spread of COVID-19 have delayed an anticipated October start until at least early 2022.

“While it’s not a decision we wanted to make, it’s the responsible decision,” CEO Stuart Coventry said in a statement. “While we are disappointed to delay our plans, what has been really pleasing is the overwhelmingly positive response the ASL has received since the league was unveiled last month. We look forward to getting off the blocks in 2022.”

ASL was launched as a joint venture between Swimming Australia and a private company. Coventry, formerly the leader of a Big Bash Cricket league franchise and the CEO of Basketball Australia, brings significant experience in growing sports leagues.

The ASL’s emergence comes at a perfect time, with the Australians winning nine gold and 20 total medals in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics, led by seven-time medalist Emma McKeon and distance sensation Ariarne Titmus. The plan was to follow a franchise model, similar to the International Swimming League, with events held around the country and prize money to swimmers.

That is still the plan, though its deployment will need to wait.

“The ASL is absolutely fantastic news for Australian swimming,” Australian head coach Rohan Taylor said last month. “From a coaching perspective, an annual professional league will offer regular elite competition to drive performance outcomes and provide a vital opportunity for Australia’s best emerging talent to compete against our finest swimmers.

“With prize money on the line as part of this new professional league, I anticipate every round will be hotly contested and will offer viewers action packed racing where the level of competition will see Australian swimming go to new heights.”

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