‘Very Positive Call’ Paves Way for ISL Participation

Swimming Canada Friday announced that it had a “very positive call” with 18 of the federation’s athletes competing in the 2020 International Swimming League season, aimed at sharing the best information possible about their participation.

Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi, High Performance director John Atkinson and national team physician Dr. Steve Keeler presented to the group, “highlighting facts to be aware of regarding topics such as health and safety, travel considerations and insurance coverage.” The stated goal of the call was to share information with the Canadians taking part in Budapest to elucidate the COVID-19 risks.

“We are not mandating anything on if Canadians should or should not participate in the ISL, or prevent them from attending,” El-Awadi said in a press release. “Our goal in the current situation, as always, is to provide them with the best information available.”

Several high-profile Canadians, including Penny Oleksiak and Kayla Sanchez, have opted out of the season, which includes the Toronto Titans as an expansion franchise in ISL’s second season.

The ISL has jousted publicly with federations over releasing swimmers, most notably Australia, and Swimming Canada makes it clear that they are not preventing its swimmers from taking part but arming them with current information. They’ve also pledged to, “work to support each individual swimmer’s choice as they prepare to compete for spots on Team Canada at the Olympic & Paralympic Trials scheduled for April.”

“Racing is an important part of preparing to perform at a major championships or Games,” Atkinson said. “Anything that gives our swimmers racing opportunities and draws attention to our outstanding athletes is great for our sport to continue to develop. For activities outside of Swimming Canada’s scope our role is to ensure athletes and coaches receive as much information as we have, and confirm they understand potential risks. Specific to the ISL, our focus will be to advise the athletes, and support whatever decision they make as best we can, just as we support their choices to train in a High Performance Centre, a Canadian club or university, or club or university outside of Canada.”

Among the information passed along is about the COVID-19 situation in Budapest, travel advisories from the Canadian government and quarantine procedures upon their return – basically a clear accounting of what they risk in terms of health and training time to get that racing in.

“We would assume team members inside the ISL are receiving as much or more information from their ISL teams, so they can make informed decisions and plans,” El-Awadi said. “Our focus is on supporting the athletes to be the best they can be to represent Canada at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

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