Australian swimmers to ramp up fight against FINA at London summit

Some of Australia's top swimmers are set to attend a summit in London next week to establish a new global Professional Swimmers Association which will provide athletes with the "tools to build a brighter future for their sport in a professional environment”, event organisers said.

Australian Olympic medallists Madeline Groves and Emily Seebohm are on the list of expected attendees at the event, which includes athletes from 10 leading swimming nations including the United States and Great Britain.

Swimmers unite: Rio butterfly silver medalist Madeline Groves is backing the ISL in its fight against FINA,Credit:Joe Armao

"So looking forward to this and so privileged to be a part of it," Groves said on Twitter.

International champions Katinka Hosszu, Chad Le Clos and Adam Peaty are also set to attend the event.

The summit is being run by the International Swimming League (ISL), an organisation founded by Ukrainian energy tycoon Konstantin Grigorishin that is locked in a bitter dispute with FINA, the institution that has run Olympic swimming for 110 years.

Several prominent swimmers past and present, including Australian Olympic champion Cate Campbell and legend Dawn Fraser, have come out in support of the ISL because they say swimmers are not being paid enough by FINA.

In Australia, Olympic gold medal winning swimmers receive an annual grant of just $26,000.

The creation of the ISL, which has promised to pay swimmers more in prize money than FINA, has been bitterly opposed by FINA which sees the upstart organisation as an existential threat.

An ISL event that was set to be held in Turin this month was cancelled when FINA threatened to block athletes from competing in the 2020 Toyko Olympics if they participated in the unsanctioned competition.

Two lawsuits have been filed in the United States this week, one by swimmers and one by the ISL, accusing FINA of illegally monopolising top-level swimming.

"This case is also about whether FINA—entrenched in and fearful of losing total control over lucrative swimming competitions—unlawfully wields its dominant influence to prevent outside organisations from expanding opportunities for hundreds of world-class swimmers and their millions of fans across the world," the ISL filing alleges.

In a statement, FINA said that its attention was focussed on the ongoing short course championships in Hangzhou, China.

Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, a strong ISL supporter, competes at the Hungzhou short course championships.Credit:AP

"FINA will nonetheless give the filings our full attention and mount a robust defense if required to do so," FINA said.

"As always, FINA remains open to proposals that would genuinely enhance – rather than conflict with – the current and planned competition calendars, providing further opportunities for aquatics athletes, and ideally in a manner that benefits the whole sport."

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