Aussie star gets ticket to swimming’s big payday
AUSTRALIAN swim star Bronte Campbell will feature in FINA's new multi-million-dollar series following yet another backflip from the sport's world governing body.
In a major victory for clean swimmers and common sense, the Rio Olympic gold medallist and double world sprint champion has now been invited to take part in the elite $5.5 Champions Swim Series.
Along with her older sister Cate, Bronte will compete in the 100m freestyle at the opening round of the three-leg series in Guangzhou, China (April 27-28), but will skip Budapest (May 11-12) and Indianapolis (May 31-June 1) because they clash with her preparations for the Australian championships.
"I'm really glad I at least got the opportunity to go to one," Bronte said.
"I was pretty curious about how this competition is going to go.
"I'm really not sure what it's going to look like but I am excited to see what FINA's going to put together so I did want to be a part of it and now I get to."
With only four swimmers invited for each event, the series is being billed as a showdown between the best of the best, with guaranteed appearance fees, free travel and accommodation and unprecedented cash rewards for the invited participants.
The lucrative series was only created after swimmers around the world pledged their allegiance to the International Swimming League (ISL) - a new professional competition starting up later this year - prompting FINA to dip into its deep pockets and offer swimmers a bigger slice of its vast fortune.
But the full list of entrants remains shrouded in mystery with FINA announcing only a handful of swimmers who have accepted places, leaving elite competitors baffled and sceptical about the selection process.
Despite being ranked No.2 in the world, Bronte was not on the original list of invitees and was only offered a place after it was revealed she had been snubbed for one of the biggest paydays in swimming history while proven dopers Sun Yang and Yulia Efimova were set to cash in.
Of the 82 swimmers initially invited to the series, only seven Australians - Cate, Kyle Chalmers, Mack Horton, Jack McLoughlin, Emily Seebohm, Ariarne Titmus and Emma McKeon - received offers.
It is understood more invitations are coming but the Australians will only consider the China leg and will have to wait to discover who their opponents are.
"I know Cate's going but I don't know who else is going for the 100m freestyle," Bronte said.
"It all seems very secretive at the moment but at least by the time I get there I should know who I'm going to race.
"It's all been a little bit confusing but I'm sure it'll make sense when we're there and I'm definitely keeping an open mind about it.
"Racing in a small, high-class field is quite an appealing thing to do, especially early in the season when everyone's still getting fit, because it'll come down to who's the best on the day, which is my favourite part of racing."