DeLoof sisters join new professional swimming league

By: Zachary Manning | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 26, 2019

 From left, Ali, Gabby and Catie DeLoof pose for a photo at the 2018 national championships in Irvine, California. The three sisters will be on the New York Breakers in the International Swimming League.

From left, Ali, Gabby and Catie DeLoof pose for a photo at the 2018 national championships in Irvine, California. The three sisters will be on the New York Breakers in the International Swimming League.

Photo provided by Ali DeLoof

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GROSSE POINTES — Baseball has the MLB, basketball has the NBA, football has the NFL, hockey has the NHL and now swimming has the International Swimming League (ISL).

The new professional sports league is looking to give athletes more opportunities to swim competitively while allowing the sport and the swimmers to gain more recognition.  

Three of those athletes are Grosse Pointe South graduates Gabby, Catie and Ali DeLoof. The sisters were announced as members of the New York Breakers during a June 18 press conference.

“First and foremost, you can look at their past, look at their steady improvement over the years. You can tell from a swimmer when they are ready to pop or have already just started peaking. That’s what I’ve seen in them,” New York Breakers General Manager Tina Andrew said. “The other thing that we focus on too, of course, is family. We’re very, very family oriented, and one of the things that attracted me especially to the DeLoof sisters is the fact that they are three high-level swimmers”

To go along with competing against some of the top athletes in the world, including former Olympic champions, the DeLoofs are excited to be swimming together again.

Each of them swam at the University of Michigan, and the trio was on the Wolverines’ roster for the 2015-16 season. But with different ages and careers taking them in different directions, it’s been some time since they’ve been on the same team.

Now that they have come back together, the sisters are hoping to be put on some relays together while making a run at winning the league.

“Being on the same team for the New York Breakers, we’ll obviously be able to compete together, and I think being able to still learn from Gabby and Ali and finding different ways to help each other improve, but also compete at the highest level for the New York Breakers is really good,” said Catie, who graduated from South in 2015.

With the ISL consisting of eight teams — four from Europe and four from the U.S. — there will be opportunities to showcase the sport to a wide audience around the world.

Swimming is one of the most-watched sports during the Olympics, but the sisters are hoping the ISL can make swimming a spectator sport every year instead of just at the Olympic Games.

Outside of growing the sport, the international aspect gives the athletes a chance to experience different cultures from around the world while networking and meeting swimmers from different countries.

“I think it’s huge. I think it’s about time that swimming kind of came out and branched out this way,” said Gabby, who graduated from South in 2014. “To have its own professional swimming league like the NBA, the NFL, the MLB, just being up there in the ranks is going to be huge for swimming. Just being a part of this history for the first professional league is going to change swimming for what’s to come in the future.”

The Breakers will kick off the season with a trip Oct. 18-19 to Dallas. They will then head to Budapest, Hungary, for competition Oct. 26-27. From Nov. 15 to 16, they will be competing in College Park, Maryland.

If the Breakers are one of the top two U.S. teams in the league, they will head to Las Vegas Dec. 20-21 for the ISL finals.

“I obviously think that our team is going to win. We’re going to make it to the final,” said Ali, who graduated from South in 2012. “We have a fierce competitiveness for this New York Breakers team. … We’re very unique, we’re up and coming, but we all are very passionate about swimming and want to share a piece of that with other people who may not know that much about swimming.”

For more information on the league, visit isl.global.

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