The International Swim Coaches Association Adds a New Event: The X Splash Games

Photo Courtesy: Don Lemieux

By Brie Harnden, Swimming World College Intern.

The International Swim Coaches Association (ISCA) is an organization of swim coaches and performance experts dedicated to connecting the science of swimming fast to coaches around the world. For nearly twenty years ISCA has been growing in size with hopes of creating a faster and more efficient swimming community.

While the ISCA hosts multiple traditional aquatic competitions, one of their most recent ventures has been finding a way to engage developing swimmers in thrilling competition that requires multiple skills in both land and water events. This increased demand for athleticism would strengthen the sport of swimming across the globe.

Read on to find out where the ISCA has been and the exciting new direction they are going!

What the ISCA Currently Hosts

ISCA currently hosts a multitude of meets every season, utilizing some of the top facilities in the nation to ensure that swimmers have the fastest and most memorable meet they can. The first weekend of August includes the annual Summer Senior Championships – now sponsored by TYR – which is held at the North Shore Aquatic Complex in St. Petersburg, Florida. Two more ISCA meets, the Junior National Championship Cup and the Elite Showcase Classic, are both set to be hosted at the same facility in 2019.

Virginia Gators Head Coach and ISCA Executive Board President Doug Fonder expressed his excitement at this pool location for very good reason: the facility is a 10 lane, 50-meter pool with a detached 10 lane 25-meter warm up pool, held at a constant temperature of 79 degrees. Furthermore, this pool boasts a brand new scoreboard and sits right on Tampa Bay at Vinoy Park. St. Petersburg’s weather is great for swimming outdoors, particularly when these meets will be held in March and April, with the additional bonus of fresh air quality.


Photo Courtesy: Brie Harnden

The ISCA Junior National Championship Cup will be held March 26-29, 2019. The Elite Showcase Classic will be held from April 10-13, 2019.

Along with these three meets, ISCA hosts an Open Water championship in September and multiple coaching summits throughout the year. There are hopes to create a West Elite Showcase Classic in California to build off of the Florida event.

An Exciting New Event: The X Splash Games

In an effort to better engage and retain swimmers, Fonder describes ISCA’s newest creation: the X Splash Games. This competition invites developing swimmers to compete in a variety of both land and water events, expanding the athletic demands of swimmers.

The Ten Events

The X represents the number 10, as the competition serves as a swimmer’s version of a decathlon. There will be three out-of-water events and seven swimming events and seven swimming events. The three land events – pull ups, dips, and vertical jumps – were determined to be the most crucial exercises for swimmers’ strength. These events were also picked because they can be measured and replicated in the exact manner at any site with the proper parameters.


Photo Courtesy: Don Lemieux

The swimming events will include different stroke and IM races, including a 25-yard freestyle for every age group. Fonder highlighted the importance of speed in today’s swimming community, especially for college recruiting purposes. “Just being able to get off the block and get going fast is very important,” he stressed.

Why Compete?

The X Splash is designed as a fun way to practice racing while emphasizing the importance of every event and distance. It also benefits to the swimmer who may be better on land than in the water, as they have the opportunity to compete at a higher level and score more points. In turn, a swimmer who may be weak on land will be forced to work harder and improve their skills to match their in-water abilities.

Fonder also emphasized the importance of young swimmers being well-rounded swimmers. Too often, 14-and-under swimmers begin “specializing” in one stroke or race too early. He believes that age group practices should be focused around the 200 and 400 IM to develop well-rounded athletes with both speed and endurance.

The Scoring System

The events will be scored in the same way a decathlon is scored. It will be a two day event with five events per day. Every event is scored out of 1000 points for a total possible perfect score of 10,000. A professional mathematician is currently in the process of creating the perfect point algorithm to provide the best evaluation system.


Photo Courtesy: Aleks Tulacz

The Overarching Purpose

As ISCA continues to increase their membership and events, their goal remains constant: to continue making swimming faster. The goal of the X Splash Games is “to get kids better in the things that pertain to swimming and to find a better enjoyment in the sport.” The group has even higher hopes to develop these events into regional and national level competitions.

X Splash events are anticipated to begin this fall, and times from these competitions will be entered into the USA Swimming database. Stay tuned for the ISCA to release additional details for the X Splash Games!

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Brie Harnden
5 years ago

Don Lemieux

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x