By Phillip Whitten
IRVINE, Calif. August 3. THE second Mutual of Omaha “Duel in the Pool,” pitting the world’s two aquatic superpowers – the USA and Australia – went much as expected, with the US dominating the men’s competition, Australia nipping the US in the women’s events, and the Americans taking the overall crown, reprising their victory in the first duel.
Michael Phelps was the only swimmer to win three individual events, as he took the 400 IM, 200 IM and 200 fly. In the latter two events he was pushed hard by his American teammates and he actually had to come from behind in the final 10 meters to win the 200 fly.
Six swimmers were double winners: the USA’s Katie Hoff, Aaron Peirsol and Brendan Hansen and Australia’s Jessicah Schipper, Leisel Jones and Lisbeth Lenton.
Mutual of Omaha offered $25,000 for any world records broken and Jones came as close as possible, missing Jessica Hardy’s 100 breast standard by a mere one-hundredth of a second. In the men’s 100 breast, Brendan Hansen was only 21-hundredths off his own world record with his 59.51 seconds.
Here’s how it went:
WOMEN’S 4 x 100-meter FREESTYLE RELAY
The Aussies were favored to win this event but it wasn’t easy. Libby Lenton led off in 53.72 to the USA’s Natalie Coughlin’s 54.24, but Amanda Weir (54.45) and Kara Lynn Joyce pulled the US to a 27-hundredths lead going into the anchor leg.
US rookie Lacey Nymeyer gave it her all, but WR-holder and Olympic champion Jodie Henry had too much, catching Nymeyer with 35 meters to go, then pulling away to win in a US Open record time of 3:37.67, with the US second in 3:38.72.
SCORE: Australia – 7, USA – 0
MEN’s 4 x 100-meter FREESTYLE RELAY
It didn’t take the host team long to even the score, as the American men’s team of Garrett Weber-Gale, Neil Walker, Nate Dusing and Jason Lezak had no trouble dismissing the Aussies, 3:19.37 to 3:22.14. Veteran Neil Walker recorded the fastest split at 48.73.
SCORE: Australia – 7, USA – 7
WOMEN’s 400-meter INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
For 300 meters, Katie Hoff turned ahead of Kaitlin Sandeno’s American record pace. She couldn’t maintain that pace on the final 100, but her 4:37.06 was not only a US Open mark but it was more than enough to fashion a stylish 4+-second victory over Sandeno, who nipped Aussie Lara Carroll for second, 4:41.36 to 4:41.54 Kristen Caverly was fourth.
SCORE: USA – 16, Australia – 9
MEN’s 400-meter INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
Michael Phelps demonstrated why he is king of the 400 IM, arguable swimming’s most demanding event. Leading all the way, the 20-year-old phenom matched Hoff’s four-second victory margin with a superb 4:12.71. Teammate Robert Margalis followed in 4:16.50, with Australia’s Travis Nederpelt third.
SCORE: USA – 24, Australia – 12
WOMEN”S 100-meter BUTTERFLY
Forget Susie O’Neill and Petria Thomas. Australia has a new “Madame Butterfly,” and at 18, Jessicah Schipper has a long career to which she can look forward. Today she touched in 57.87 to win the 100 fly, as Libby Lenton was second in 58.56. Americans Rachel Komisarz (58.64) and Mary deScenza (58.93) followed closely behind.
SCORE: USA – 27, Australia – 20
MEN’S 100-meter BUTTERFLY
Not too long ago, Australia boasted the world’s two fastest 100 flyers: Michael Klim and Geoff Huegill.
Not any more! Now the event is dominated by the USA’s Ian Crocker and Michael Phelps.
Phelps opted not to swim the event today, but the Americans still swept the event. Crocker won in 51.55. Davis Tarwater (53.03) and Jayme Cramer, (53.65) followed.
SCORE: USA – 37, Australia – 21
WOMEN’S 100-meter BACKSTROKE
World record-holder Natalie Coughlin tripped and stumbled, but she didn’t fall, as she overtook teammate Margaret Hoelzer to take the 100 back in 1:00.67, with Hoelzer a second behind in 1:01.63, out-touching Aussie Giaan Rooney at 1:01.70.
SCORE: USA – 45, Australia 24
MEN’S 100-meter BACKSTROKE
Randall Bal, swimming in Lane 1, led the men’s 100 back for 90 meters before several bouts with the lane lines slowed him down and relegated him to third. World record-holder Aaron Peirsol and teammate Ryan Lochte took advantage of Bal’s distress to sweep by him. Peirsol won in 54.04, while Lochte (54.55) and Bal (54.66) followed. 2000 Olympic silver medalist Matt Welsh was fourth.
SCORE: USA – 55, Australia – 25
WOMEN’S 100-meter BREASTSTROKE
The women’s 100 breast featured the strongest field in the meet, with world champion Leisel Jones, new WR-holder Jessica Hardy, short course WR-holder Tara Kirk, short course world champion Brooke Hanson and 50-meter WR-holder/world champion Jade Edmistone filling the lanes.
All five clocked 31s for the first lap, with 17 year-old Hardy turning first in 31.07, a tenth ahead of Edmistone. Jones, at 31.49, was 42-hundredths back. But there’s a reason she is world champion, and that reason asserted itself on the second lap. With 10 meters to go, the lethal one caught her young American rival and, lunging at the wall, lit up the scoreboard with her 1:06.21 – 0.01 behind Hardy’s WR. Hardy was second in 1:06.61 while Kirk touched third in 1:07.67.
SCORE: USA – 60, Australia – 31
MEN’S 100-meter BREASTSTROKE
Brendan Hansen launched another assault on his WR of 59.30 from last year’s US Olympic trials, but hit the pads a mere 21-hundredths shy. Aussie Brenton Rickard was more than two seconds behind in 1:01.70
SCORE: USA – 68, Australia – 34
WOMEN’S 100-meter FREESTYLE
The Aussie twosome of Libby Lenton and Jodie Henry had to rely on their unparalleled finishing kicks to shake off a determined Amanda Weir, but they did what was needed with Lenton (54.77) pipping Henry (54.85), the world champion and WR-holder. Weir was third in 54.90.
SCORE: USA – 70, Australia -43
MEN’S 100-meter FREESTYLE
The US men quickly reclaimed the points lost in the women’s 100 free when hometown hero Jason Lezak, the US team captain, decisively won the men’s 100. Lezak clocked 48.96 to teammate Neil Walker’s 49.47. Comebacking Michael Klim was third in 49.70.
SCORE: USA – 78, Australia – 46
WOMEN’S 400-meter FREESTYLE
Double world champion Kate Ziegler overtook early leader Bronte Barratt after the 150-meter turn, then just pulled away from the field to win the women’s 400 free in a solid 4:08.97, almost three seconds ahead of teammate Carly Piper (4:11.70). Australia’s Linda Mackenzie out-touched the USA’s Kelsey Ditto by one-hundredth of a second to claim third in 4:12.23.
SCORE: USA – 87, Australia – 48
MEN’S 400-meter FREESTYLE
The men’s 400 free proved to be one of the most exciting races of the day, with American record-holder Klete Keller uncharacteristically taking an early lead and holding it through the halfway points (1:51.87). But eventual winner Grant Hackett swept by him before the next turn. A hundred meters later, Peter Vanderkaay inched passed a struggling Keller and, a lap later, so did Larsen Jensen.
Hackett, swimming an even-split race, touched in an outstanding 3:45.31, with Vanderkaay a strong second (3:46.68) and Jensen 4-hundredths behind. Keller was fourth in 3:48.65.
SCORE: USA – 93, Australia – 53
WOMEN’S 200-meter INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
Kaitlin Sandeno took the lead in the 200 IM and held it through the first 125 meters before the American record pace took its toll and Katie Hoff, Whitney Myers and Lara Carroll glided past her on the breaststroke leg. Hoff had the fastest breaststroke split (37.83), then followed with the fastest freestyle leg (31.00) to touch in a swift 2:11.55. Myers clocked a PR 2:12.93 for second, while Carroll staved off a sprinting Kaitlin Sandeno for third.
SCORE; USA – 102, Australia – 55
MEN’S 200-meter INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
World record-holder Michael Phelps built up a 1.36 second lead over teammate Ryan Lochte on the first half of the 200 IM, then held on as Lochte came charging in the breaststroke. In the freestyle leg, Phelps held off his Florida rival, then inched ahead touching in 1:56.93 to Lochte’s 1:57.94. Robert Margalis completed the 1-2-3 sweep for the USA.
SCORE; USA – 112, Australia – 56
WOMEN’S 200-meter BACKSTROKE
The USA’s Margaret Hoelzer left no doubt about the ultimate outcome of the 200 back from Stroke One. She built her lead to almost three seconds at the 150-meter mark, then coasted to a 2:11.68, well ahead of the Aussie tandem of Sophie Edington (2:14.11) and Tayliah Zimmer (2:14.53).
SCORE: USA – 118, Australia – 61
MEN’S 200-meter BACKSTROKE
Dorsal king Aaron Peirsol followed the same script in the men’s event, with the same result. Peirsol had the fastest split for every 50 and touched in a leisurely (for him) 1:57.55. Teammate Jayme Cramer followed in 1:59.81 while Aussie Matt Welsh was a distant third.
SCORE; USA – 127, Australia – 63
WOMEN’S 200-meter BREASTSTROKE
Lethal Leisel Jones hung back through the first half of the 200-meter breaststroke, then took command of the race to win going away in 2:26.11. Tara Kirk, who briefly held the lead, finished second in 2:27.73 while Kristen Caverly was third.
SCORE; USA – 132, Australia – 69
MEN’S 200-meter BREASTSTROKE
Talk about dominance! Thy name is Brendan Hansen. The triple world champion sowed why he is Number One with an overwhelming victory in the 200 breast. Hansen’s 2:10.07 was more than 4-1/2 seconds in front of teammate Scott Usher. Mark Gangloff completed the 1-2-3 US sweep.
SCORE; USA – 142, Australia – 70
WOMEN’S 50-meter FREESTYLE
The 50 free was closer than expected but the Aussies walked away with a one-two sweep authored by Jodie Henry (25.06) and Alice Mills (25.14). Kara Lynn Joyce was third (25.36).
SCORE; USA – 145, Australia – 78
MEN’S 50-meter FREESTYLE
The men’s frothing 50 free was a line of flailing arms and legs until the very end when Nick Brunelli out-touched Jason Lezak, 22.20 to 22.23. Ben Wildman-Tobriner was third in 22.38.
SCORE; USA – 155, Australia – 79
WOMEN’S 200-meter FREESTYLE
The women’s 200 free saw four women battle stroke-for-stroke for 190 meters before world-leader Libby Lenton put the pedal to the metal to grab the win in 1:59.49. Kaitlin Sandeno was a stroke behind in 1:59.78, with Katie Hoff third (1:59.90) and Whitney Myers fourth (2:00.14).
SCORE: USA – 161, Australia – 84
MEN’S 200-meter FREESTYLE
If anything, the men’s 200 free was even more exciting than the women’s race. It also featured the meet’s biggest upset.
In the middle of the pool Grant Hackett was doing battle with the USA’s Klete Keller and rookie Matt McGinnis, with the 19 year-old McGinnis leading through the 100 meter mark with a 53.44 to Hackett’s 53.69 and Keller’s 54.09. But over in lane 1, Peter Vanderkaay was trying to steal the race, leading at the 50 (25.28) and 100 (52.67).
Just before the final turn, Hackett overtook McGinnis, turning 9-hundredths ahead of the game American in 1:21.18. Vanderkaay maintained the overall lead, though more than half of that lead was erased on the third lap.
On the final lap Keller vaulted into third with a 26.47 split to record a solid 1:48.24, as Hackett withstood his charge to touch in what he thought was a winning 1:47.99 effort. But Vanderkaay managed to hold on, winning the race in an outstanding 1:47.87
SCORE: USA – 169, Australia – 87
WOMEN’S 200-meter BUTTERFLY
Aussie Jessicah Schipper, who bettered the world record in Montreal last week, was the overwhelming favorite, but the US duo of Mary DeScenza and Emily Mason were not about to concede anything. They battled Schipper all the way, though the Aussie never gave up the lead, turning in 1:01.05 at the 100 and holding on to win in 2:07.61. DeScenza followed in 2:08.27 with Mason third in 2:10.22
SCORE: USA – 174, Australia – 93
MEN’S 200-meter BUTTERFLY
Michael Phelps notched his third win of the Duel in the 200 fly, an event he has owned for four years, but he had all he could handle in teammate Davis Tarwater, swimming in Lane 1.
Australia’s Andrew Richards led at the 50, clocking 26.50 to Tarwater’s 26.57. Phelps was fifth in 26.79. Tarwater took over at the 100, turning in 55.98 to Phelps’ 56.57 in what was turning into a two-man race.
Phelps gained 12-hundredths on the third 50, but at the final turn Tarwater still led by almost half a second. Coming down the home stretch, Phelps gave it his all, but Tarwater continued to hang in, falling back only in the final 10 meters. At the wall, it was Phelps in 1:56.38 to Tarwater’s 1:56.67. Travis Nederpelt was third in 1:58.60.
SCORE: USA – 183, Australia – 95
WOMEN’S 4 x 100-meter MEDLEY RELAY
Though the US had long clinched the overall Duel in the Pool title, the women’s contest saw the two superpowers nearly deadlocked. With one event to go, the US held a fragile 70-69 lead, but the relay was worth 7 points, winner take all, and the Aussies were a slight favorite.
The key for the USA was to get a sizable lead on the backstroke. Natalie Coughlin did give the home team the lead, but her 1:01.35 was only 34-hundredths ahead of Giaan Rooney. That spelled trouble.
Jessicah Hardy followed with a superb 1:06.19 split for the US, but Leisel Jones countered with a 1:06.21.
Rachel Komisarz split 58.18 for the fly but Australia’s Schipper gave her team the lead with a 57.16. Amanda Weir swam 54.52 for the USA, but it wasn’t nearly enough as Jodie Henry took her team home in 53.87. Australia’s time was 3:58.93, with the USA at 4:00.24.
The win gave the Aussie women a 76-70 victory over their US counterparts, even though it was an “unofficial” triumph.
SCORE: USA – 183, Australia – 102
MEN’S 4 x 100-meter MEDLEY RELAY
There was little suspense about the final event. The US was a heavy favorite and the team crown had long since been decided.
All went according to expectations as the team of Peirsol (55.10), Hansen (59.82 – doesn’t this guy ever let up?), Crocker (51.67) and Phelps (49.80) breezed in 3:36.39, six seconds ahead of Australia.
FINAL SCORE: USA – 190, Australia – 102