Britain’s Olympic 100 metres breaststroke champion Adam Peaty has called the International Swimming League’s emergency fund of £15 million ($18.3 million) for swimmers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic “huge for the sport”.
The ISL has introduced the ‘solidarity programme’ to help swimmers continue to train for major events such as the Olympics which have been postponed to 2021.
The fund, which will run from September 2020 until July 2021, will be worth around £1,200 a month to the more than 300 swimmers who are part of the ISL — where they compete for franchised teams.
Last year was the inaugural series.
Peaty, world record holder in both the 50 and 100m breaststroke, said the fund provided some assurance at an unpredictable time.
“It’s an uncertain time for us all at the moment so this much welcomed financial grant will assist swimmers as everyone prepares for 2021,” the 25-year-old told BBC on Friday.
Konstantin Grigorishin, owner and financial backer of ISL, said he had stepped in when several swimmers were debating about whether to carry on after the Olympics were postponed.
“After the postponement of the Olympics some swimmers came to us and said they would now probably retire because they could not afford another year,” he told the BBC.
“So this is why we decided to take action.”
Grigroshin said the monthly amount paled into significance when compared to what other athletes earned in some sports.
“We aren’t talking about the wages of soccer or basketball players but for these swimmers we hope it will make a real difference and allow them to continue in the sport,” the 54-year-old Ukrainian billionare said.
This year’s series will now be in just one venue running from October 14 to November 17.
Grigorshin told the BBC that four countries were in the running to be hosts — Australia, Japan, Hungary and the USA.