Swimming Canada Says It Is Not “Mandating” But “Informing” Swimmers Ahead Of ISL Season II

2020-09-28 Reading Time: 2 minutes
The race is it - photo by Patrick B. Kraemer

Swimming Canada is “not mandating” whether Canadian swimmers compete or not in the forthcoming International Swimming League Season 2, the federation has stated in response to ISL concerns that federations are “bullying” swimmers into bypassing the 2020 event and related Solidarity Camp.

Swimming Canada Performance Director John Atkinson noted that the ISL was not an “official” event within the remit of the federation and its global relation and “parent” body, FINA. However, he also pointed out:

“Racing is an important part of preparing to perform at a major championships or Games. Anything that gives our swimmers racing opportunities and draws attention to our outstanding athletes is great for our sport to continue to develop.”

Swimming Canada statement in Full:

Swimming Canada hosted a very positive call Wednesday with all 18 Canadian athletes on International Swimming League team rosters, and many of their coaches.

CEO Ahmed El-Awadi, High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson, and national team physician Dr. Steve Keeler all made presentations to the group highlighting facts to be aware of regarding topics such as health and safety, travel considerations and insurance coverage.

El-Awadi opened by making clear that the intention of the call was to share information with everyone.

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

In light of the ISL’s recently announced plans to conduct competition in Budapest, Hungary, beginning next month, the swimmers and coaches received factual reminders about relevant publicly available information, for example:
    •    Budapest in general being a risk area, and specific risks associated with numbers of people etc.
    •    The Government of Canada Travel Advisory to avoid non-essential travel that has been in place since March 13
    •    Quarantines on return to Canada
    •    Swimming Canada’s decision not to travel internationally for camps and/or competitions through at least the end of the year

“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. We are very well supported by the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and the Canadian Olympic Committee to pursue performance for Canada at the Tokyo Games.”


Atkinson concluded the call by encouraging everyone to move forward at their own comfort level, while noting that the ISL is not an official Swimming Canada or FINA activity. 

“Racing is an important part of preparing to perform at a major championships or Games. Anything that gives our swimmers racing opportunities and draws attention to our outstanding athletes is great for our sport to continue to develop,” Atkinson said.

“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.”

Swimming Canada will 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.

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