Sajan Prakash has become the first Indian to be drafted into the International Swimming League (ISL) for the 2021-22 season.
The ISL is an annual professional league which was established in 2019 by Ukrainian businessman Konstantin Grigorishin's company, Energy Standard Group.
The franchise-based short-course swimming league features top swimmers, men and women, from around the world. The swimmers are drawn into 10 teams, which compete throughout the season for the ISL crown.
Sajan Prakash, the first Indian swimmer to earn a direct Olympics qualification, will be a part of Energy Standard, a Paris-based team. Energy Standard won the ISL title in its inaugural season and finished second in the 2020 edition.
The team features some big names like Chad le Clos, the 2012 Olympic champion in butterfly, Sarah Sjöström, the Rio 2016 Olympic champion in butterfly, Emily Seebohm, Kliment Kolesnikov and Travis Mahoney.
An ISL calendar is divided into two parts - the regular season and play-offs. The regular season consists of a series of ‘matches’, each featuring four teams.
A single ISL match is held over two days and includes a total of 37 races -- including five relays and two skin races (a series of back-to-back races in knockout format).
Points are awarded based on the final position in every race. While the first-placed swimmer earns nine points for his team, the swimmer finishing last gets one point.
The team with the maximum points from these races at the end of a ‘match’ wins four points while the fourth-place team gets one point. At the end of the regular season, the top eight teams qualify for the semi-final play-offs, where they compete in similar match formats.
The field is reduced to the best four teams for the finals.
The 2021-22 season, which began on Thursday, is being held at the Piscina Felice Scandone in Naples, Italy. Energy Standard won the opening match, beating Toronto Titans, DC Tridents and Aqua Centurions.
ISL’s regular season will run till September 26 with the semi-finals scheduled for November 11-28 at Pieter van den Hoogenband Stadium, Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The finals will be held in January next year.