(CBS Local Sports)– Several professional sports leagues have used a bubble in order to play games during the COVID-19 pandemic and swimming is the latest sport that is hoping a bubble will allow for safe competition. The International Swimming League is currently being held in Budapest and Olympic gold medalist and announcer Rowdy Gaines is in the bubble to call all the action.
The International Swimming League is airing on CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network and the league is in its second year of existence. The ISL features the top swimmers from around the world and 50 countries are represented. Gaines has been thoroughly impressed with the execution of the bubble and has enjoyed seeing swimmers like Caeleb Dressel, Lilly King and Ryan Murphy who will be representing Team USA next summer.
“It’s exceeded my wildest dreams to be honest with you,” said Gaines, in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “Everybody has just been wonderful here. The people from Hungary are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. The facility is the best facility I’ve ever been to in my life and I’ve been to a lot of pools over my career. All the protocols for safety have been magnificent. The great thing about the ISL is that we have such great diversity. In our country we like to focus on the Americans, but we really have some of the best international swimmers in the world today. I thought it was going to be like preseason football because everyone hasn’t swum in nine months. It’s really surprised me how incredibly fast the swimmers have been. You have the usual suspects in 3x Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy, Tom Shields and Caeleb Dressel and Lilly King and there a lot of really good international swimmers.”
Off day for #ISL2020. Catch the highlights of @energy_standard getting their first @iswimleague win! pic.twitter.com/YODz0q114J
— Bernie Guenther (@BernieGuenther) November 3, 2020
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Gaines believes the experience in the ISL will be invaluable for the competitors in gearing up for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. The Hall of Fame swimmer loves the concept of the ISL and believes it is here to stay. The league also provides the American audience an opportunity to see what Team USA will look like without Michael Phelps. Gaines has seen a lot of great swimmers in his day, but Phelps will always top his list.
“I think they [Team USA] are in a great position. We are without the greatest of all-time, the literal GOAT in Michael Phelps,” said Gaines. “We’ve had him since 2000 and in 2021 we won’t have Michael anymore. That is certainly going to be noticed. If you think about it, Team USA has been #1 in the world in swimming since 1956. No other sport and no other country can claim that kind of excellence for 64 straight years. I think we’ll survive without Michael. It’s not going to be a lot of fun. There are a lot of great names like Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel and and Caeleb Dressel has a chance to win seven gold medals next summer.”
Watch The International Swimming League on CBS Sports and watch all of DJ Sixsmith’s interviews from “The Sit-Down” series here.