The ISL are set to hold a two-day summit in London where a Swimmer’s Association could be established ©ISL

Discussions over the future of elite level swimming are set to intensify tomorrow when a two-day brain-storming summit is held by the International Swimming League (ISL) in London amid the ongoing conflict with the International Swimming Federation (FINA).

The ISLclaim that around 30 top level swimmers, both current and retired, will attend the event at Stamford Bridge, the home of Premier League Chelsea Football Club.

It is claimed the event will provide athletes with "tools to build a brighter future for their sport in a professional environment".

This is set to include the creation of a global Swimmer’s Association, the ISL revealed.

The summit comes as the dispute between the ISL and FINA continued in recent weeks, after the latter refused to sanction an ISL competition in Italy.

The event was expected to launch the ISL, with their format featuring eight international clubs each made up of 12 male and 12 female swimmers.

They were due to compete over two days of races across all swimming events in a short course pool, where the four teams which gained the most points would progress to a grand final over the following two days.

It was cancelled when FINA warned any swimmers who took part would face bans.

FINA defended their decision to refuse to sanction the event, asserting the request to hold the event was made at "short notice".

The cancellation was condemned by numerous high profile athletes, including South African Olympic champion Chad Le Clos, Hungary’s Katinka Hosszú and Britain’s Adam Peaty.

Hosszú, together with Americans Michael Andrew and Tom Shields, filed a proposed class action lawsuit against FINA for allegedly violating anti-trust laws.

The lawsuit is similar to the one filed against the International Skating Union in 2017, where a judge ruled that their moves to block skaters from competing in non-authorised competitions were in breach of European Union antitrust laws, except that this one is being filed in the US.

According to the release, the suit was only undertaken after FINA demanded a $50 million (£39 million/€44 million) fee to approve ISL events.

A separate lawsuit was filed by the ISL.

Katinka Hosszú, part of a class action lawsuit against FINA, is among the athletes expected to attend the summit ©Getty Images
Katinka Hosszú, part of a class action lawsuit against FINA, is among the athletes expected to attend the summit ©Getty Images

Le Clos, Hoszzú and Peaty are among those expected to attend the two-day summit in London.

The ISL led by financier Konstantin Grigorishin, expressed their intention to launch a swimming series of professional team matches starting from next year.

The Ukrainian businessman was quoted as saying swimmers currently work and compete as professionals but have "no salary, social guarantees, no welfare, no medical and life insurance, no pension rights".

It is claimed the creation of a Professional Swimmers Association would ensure athletes have a "fair partnership with regulators and event organisers" and that "welfare of swimmers and their rights to earn a living from their work paramount".

FINA, seemingly in a response to the mounting pressure, last week announced they would establish a Champions Swim Series event next year.

Three legs of the new event will be held between March and May with FINA promising an "innovative format aimed at creating a world-class platform for elite swimming".

Swimmers would be grouped together on a continental or sponsorship basis, with each team comprising of 12 men and 12 women as the ISL had also planned.

The Series will be "an exceptional showcase for the sport and its top swimmers, that combines pure competition, together with innovative sports presentation and entertainment", FINA claimed.

Only invited athletes will be able to compete and only finals will be held.

Swimmers will receive both "unprecedented" prize money and appearance fees to take part, FINA promised, with a total prize purse of nearly $4 million (£3 million/€3.5 million) offered.

The ongoing dispute appeared to be referenced by the FINA Athletes Committee at their meeting at the World Short Course Championships in China.

"While some athletes at the top may be focused mainly on expanded competition opportunities, which is entirely reasonable, we are also looking at athlete wellbeing in it’s entirety including safeguarding, injury prevention, mental health and dual career programmes to make sure that aquatics athletes can be as successful out of the water as they are in it," South Africa's double Olympic gold medallist Penny Heyns, chair of the FINA Athlete Committee, said. 

"The scope of responsibility is large and one that requires us all working together for the benefit of all athletes, especially those who face more difficulties in making their voices heard."

The FINA Athletes Committee claimed to have developed a strategy which was further refined to focus on three key areas, focusing on governance and strengthening of the athletes voice within FINA structures.