No fewer than 36 British swimmers are set to return to competitive action as the International Swimming League (ISL) roars back for a second season.
Kicking off in Budapest, Hungary, on Friday (16th October), the ISL will run a condensed programme for 2020 - due to the ongoing disruptions of COVID-19 - with all league matches, semi-finals and the final taking place in the Hungarian capital over a five-week period.
Swimmers will stay in two hotels on Budapest's Margaret Island for the entirety of the competition and operate in a bubble to minimise the risk of coronavirus among the athletes and staff involved.
The competition format will run in a similar manner to the inaugural 2019 season, with teams facing off across a series of 10 league matches (between 16th October and 10th November), before the top eight meet in two semi-finals (14th-16th November) to determine the top four sides for the grand finale, which is scheduled for 21st and 22nd November.
Among the Brits taking to the pool on the opening night of action are breaststroke ace James Wilby, making his ISL debut for New York Breakers, who also include Wilby's Loughborough National Centre teammates Abbie Wood, Joe Litchfield and Molly Renshaw in their line-up.
The first match of the 2020 campaign (16th-17th October) also includes defending champions Energy Standard, whose roster boasts 2019 World Championship teammates Ben Proud, Georgia Davies and Max Litchfield - all key members of that winning side from 12 months ago.
Match number two for the year, taking place on 18th and 19th of October, sees London Roar open their campaign, with their squad featuring no fewer than 15 Brits. A host of home-grown world champions will be included in those looking to play a key part in a Roar title challenge in year two, including Luke Greenbank, the backstroker joined by his fellow world gold medallists Adam Peaty, Duncan Scott and James Guy.
Also racing for Roar is European champion Freya Anderson, while relay teammate Anna Hopkin and rising stars Emily Large and Kathleen Dawson will make their ISL debuts.
Of the return of competitive swimming, British Swimming’s Performance Director Chris Spice said: “In these difficult times, we realise how privileged we are to have this competition. We have been working very hard behind the scenes to enable our swimmers to take part in the ISL this season. Of course, it is short-course which doesn’t translate necessarily to Olympic swimming, but given the lack of competition since March this year, we believe this will be a great racing opportunity for so many of our current and emerging elite swimmers.
“We should also pay tribute to the ISL organisers, our governments, UK Sport, and our key partners in Scottish Swimming, Swim Wales and Swim England who have assisted us with this process. It is only by working together that we can truly move the sport forward for the benefit of all athletes and fans.
“We had a very productive briefing session a few days ago with athletes and stakeholders to outline key health and safety protocols and provide the best advice on how to manage themselves in what will be a strange environment for our athletes and staff. I wish all participants a healthy competition and a safe return.”
Full list of British swimmers contesting the ISL
New York Breakers
Other teams: DC Trident, LA Current, Tokyo Frog Kings