TUESDAY MARKED THE FORMAL launch of the International Swimmers’ Alliance, an independent organization established for athletes, by athletes that aims to fight for swimmers’ rights and provide them with an independent global voice.
Formed in response to the calls from professional swimmers worldwide for independent representation, the International Swimmers’ Alliance has a goal to improve personal and economic opportunities for all elite swimmers by elevating the sport into the modern era.
The non-profit International Swimmers’ Alliance aims to engage in positive dialogue with the IOC and swimming’s international governing body, FINA, to bring about the change required to modernize the sport. The Alliance’s goal is collaboration but at the same time hold those accountable at FINA when not acting in the best interest of the athletes. While all modern professional sports leagues have an average athlete to administrator ratio of 1:3, the IOC’s administration structure is 1:50 respectively. Additionally, all modern professional leagues have revenue sharing agreements with athletes of roughly 50-50, swimmers receive no compensation for competing either at the Olympics or World Championships. Swimmers have united to address these glaring comparisons.
The Alliance’s main objectives, which will be decided by the swimmers include:
1. Promoting the advancement of all swimmers and the sport.
2. Improving and maintaining relations with all governing bodies and event organizers.
3. Improving economic conditions of swimmers (including, at the appropriate time, the establishment and maintenance of pension plans, health insurance plans or other benefit plans for swimmers),
4. Developing enterprises aimed at expanding benefits for the Alliance and its members (including, at the appropriate time, the sponsorship or organization of professional competitions).
“Very little has changed in the business structure of professional swimming since Tom Jager and I were the first true professional swimmers in America three decades ago. This fact is not lost on today’s top swimmers,” said Olympian and International Swimmers’ Alliance manager Matt Biondi.
The International Swimmers’ Alliance has also agreed to a strategic partnership with Global Athlete, a progressive athlete start-up movement aiming to inspire greater athlete representation in organizations across the world of sport. The partnership brings together two organizations with similar values to collaborate on projects, share insights and drive change that will ultimately benefit the athletes and the sport.
“Global Athlete is proud to be a partner with the International Swimmers’ Alliance. Establishing an independent association is a critical step in enhancing athletes’ rights. It is so important for athletes to have their own professional representation and they are in good hands with Matt leading the charge.” said Rob Koehler, Global Athlete director-general..
The Alliance Board meets monthly and has established short-term and long-term goals for the organization based on initial athlete feedback. The Alliance website further allows for current members to voice their concerns on troubling issues they are experiencing and for the board to focus on improving the most common and pressing problems faced by pro swimmers today. The website is also intended to build membership for all eligible swimmers with a top 20 world ranking in an individual LCM event.
Swimmers’ Alliance board member and Canadian Olympian Brent Hayden added: “I want to be a part of the International Swimmers’ Alliance as a way to give back to the sport that has al-ready given me so much. In fact, all Alliance members have the potential to make positive change for generations to come.”