Duel in the Pool: Team USA Uses World Record in Tiebreaker Mixed Relay to Win 132-131

GLASGOW, Scotland, December 21. THE European All-Stars pushed Team USA to the limit in the Duel in the Pool, with the Stars and Stripes having to force a tiebreaker at the end of regulation, but the Red, White and Blue had too much firepower in the end.

Team USA utilized a world-record swim in the mixed 200 medley relay tiebreaker to close out the victory 132-131. The closest previous winning margin for the now 6-0 Team USA in Duels was 52 points.

Women’s 800 free
Euro: 77, USA: 54
With Katie Ledecky scratching the 800 free due to illness that really hurt her in the 400 free yesterday, the European All Stars women’s distance freestyle had the chance to put another hurting on Team USA after a 1-2-3-4 finish in the 400 free on day one.

And, that’s exactly what happened as the European All Stars key group thus far put a 1-2-3 on the Stars and Stripes to sweep the nine available points. Mireia Belmonte Garcia, the world-record holder with a 7:59.34 from the Berlin stop of the FINA World Cup earlier this year, cruised to victory in 8:07.90. Lotte Friis, who pushed the pace early, under world-record pace through 200 meters, wound up second in 8:10.40. That’s off her third-ranked 8:08.68 from the European Short Course Championships.

Meanwhile, Jaz Carlin completed the clean sweep for the Euros with an 8:12.01 to vault to fourth in the world rankings.

Team USA’s Chloe Sutton (8:24.86) and Gillian Ryan (8:27.05) didn’t have a chance throughout the race as the Euros continued to pile on the points.

Men’s 800 free
Euro: 80, USA: 60
Michael McBroom dominated the distance freestyle event for the men as he clocked a sterling time of 7:33.99. That’s the top time in the world by a large margin, beating the 7:41.06 clocked by Soren Meissner at German Nationals earlier this year.

McBroom’s time now stands as the official American record, smashing the 7:39.90 set by Michael Klueh in 2011, but is not the best legal effort by an American in the event. Chad La Tourette still owns that distinction with a 7:33.94 from 2009.

USA Swimming decided that American records set in techsuits after Oct. 1, 2009 —
when USA Swimming implemented the techsuit ban domestically – would not be ratified.
This is the case even for times swum legally in international events where ban was not in effect yet.

Pal Joensen hit the wall second in 7:39.69 for some valuable points for the European All Stars. With a massive effort, Klueh used another patented final push to overtake Yannick Agnel for third-place points, 7:41.96 to 7:42.07. James Guy rounded out the heat in 7:47.36.

Women’s 200 free
Euro: 86, USA: 63
Michelle Coleman nearly posted a season best in the women’s 200 free to pick up some big points for the European All Stars as she clocked a 1:53.63. That’s just off her 1:53.51 that ranks eighth in the world from Swedish Nationals.

Coleman had to use every ounce of energy as Katie Ledecky, rested up after scratching the 800 free, came roaring home to take second in 1:53.83. That nearly place the World Swimmer of the Year into the top 10 in the world in the event, but came up just short of capturing a big victory for Team USA. Melani Costa Schmid, who ranks fifth in the world with a 1:52.52, took third for the All Stars in 1:53.96.

Shannon Vreeland (1:54.37), Femke Heemskerk (1:54.45) and Gillian Ryan (1:57.25) also vied for points in the finale.

Men’s 200 free
Euro: 87, USA: 71
Conor Dwyer took a serious run at Ryan Lochte’s American record of 1:41.08 in the 200 freestyle, but wound up settling for a 1:41.68. That’s just off his second-ranked season best of 1:41.30 from the Berlin stop of the FINA World Cup, as Dwyer continues to hunt down his former training partner’s record.

Tyler Clary picked up some big points for Team USA by tracking down Robbie Renwick for second-place points in the finale, 1:43.84 to 1:44.44. The effort helped the Red, White and Blue to begin cutting down the advantage that the European All Stars continue to sit on.

James Guy (1:45.19) took fourth, while Yannick Agnel, the top-ranked swimmer in the world with a 1:41.26 from Berlin this year, finished a surprising fifth in 1:45.55. Matt McLean (1:46.32) and Michael Weiss (1:47.31) also competed in the heat.

Women’s 100 back
Euro: 91, USA: 76
Team USA continued to fire away at the European All Star lead with another victory as Olivia Smoliga touched out Simona Baumrtova and Daryna Zevina for the win in the dorsal event. Smoliga, the reigning Swimming World High School Swimmer of the Year who now competes for the University of Georgia, touched in 57.06 to move to eighth in the world rankings.

Baumrtova, who has a third-ranked 56.28 to her credit from the European Short Course Championships, took second in 57.11, while Zevina touched third in 57.16. That’s off her sixth-ranked 56.87 from the Tokyo stop of the FINA World Cup.

Lauren Quigley (57.66), Kendyl Stewart (58.33) and Kathleen Baker (58.62) also swam in the finale.

Men’s 100 back
Euro: 92, USA: 84
Team USA closed the gap to single digits after the backstroke events with a massive 1-2 finish by Eugene Godsoe and Tom Shields. Godsoe, who has a second-ranked 49.87 from the Tokyo stop of the FINA World Cup to his credit, powered home with a winning time of 50.08.

Tom Shields, meanwhile, nearly clipped his fifth-ranked season best of 50.15 from the Dubai World Cup stop with a 50.18 as he turned on the afterburners to capture an important second-place finish. Chris Walker-Hebborn stopped the USA sweep with a third-place 50.55.

Shane Ryan (51.01) and Craig McNally (52.10) touched fourth and fifth.

Women’s 100 breast
Euro: 93, USA: 92
The Stars and Stripes nearly retook the lead after a strong run of events. The U.S. had a big 1-2 finish in the women’s 100 breast with Jessica Hardy taking the win in 1:04.65. That moved her to fifth in the world — not bad considering she’s been off honeymooning and enjoying a bit of a break after her wedding to Dominik Meichtry. She’s told Swimming World that while she’s legally Jessica Meichtry now, she’s still keeping Hardy for her swimming career.

Micah Lawrence, the big winner in the 200 breast last night, took second in 1:05.27 to move to 10th in the world rankings, while Sophie Allen came trucking home to snare third-place points with a 1:05.39 for the European All Stars.

Petra Chocova (1:05.61), Breeja Larson (1:05.66), Moniek Nijhuis (1:05.71) and Fiona Doyle (1:06.52) placed fourth through seventh.

Men’s 100 breast
Euro: 97, USA: 97
A monster swim from Kevin Cordes knotted up the team score as Cordes tracked down his second American record in as many days.

Cordes popped a blistering time of 56.88 for the win. That effort vaulted him to third in the world behind Fabio Scozzoli (56.49) and Daniel Gyurta (56.79), and unified the American record and American best in the 100 breast.

Mike Alexandrov owned the official mark with a 57.18 from Dubai in 2010, and the fastest legal time by an American with a 57.16 from Manchester in 2009.

USA Swimming decided that American records set in techsuits after Oct. 1, 2009 —
when USA Swimming implemented the techsuit ban domestically – would not be ratified.
This is the case even for times swum legally in international events where ban was not in effect yet.

Marco Koch closed strong with a second-place time of 57.05, bettering his fifth-ranked season best of 57.14 from Herning. Damir Dugonjic picked up third-place points with a 57.08 to vault to sixth in the world.

Michael Jamieson (57.52), Nic Fink (58.29), Andrew Willis (58.77) and Cody Miller (59.15) finished fourth through seventh.

Women’s 200 fly
Euro: 103, USA: 100
Mireia Belmonte Garcia, the MVP for the European women’s squad, pulled in another victory as she clocked a 2:03.31 to overhaul Team USA’s Cammile Adams in the final 50 meters. That’s well off her amazing 2:01.52 to lead the world at the European Short Course Championships, but was enough to put Team Europe back in the lead.

Adams, meanwhile, earned second-place points with a 2:04.61, while Franziska Hentke posted a 2:05.83 in her pet event to take third. Adams moved to eighth in the world with her swim, while Hentke already stood fourth with a 2:03.47.

Aimee Willmott (2:07.10), Claire Donahue (2:07.61) and Katie Ledecky (2:13.08) rounded out the heat.

Men’s 200 fly
Euro: 107, USA: 105
The top-line swimmers for Team USA are coming up big for the Stars and Stripes tonight with Tom Shields crushing his American record in the distance fly to cut the gap to two points.

Shields held off an early challenge by Velimir Stjepanovic with a sweltering time of 1:50.61. That put him second in the world behind Chad le Clos (1:48.56) and Pawel Korzeniowski (1:50.43). The effort also helped Shields become the first American under 1:51, breaking his American record of 1:51.31 set at the Berlin stop of the FINA World Cup this year.

Stjepanovic took second overall in 1:52.06 after leading early on, while Roberto Pavoni touched third overall in 1:52.87.

Bence Biczo (1:53.16), Tyler Clary (1:53.44), David Verraszto (1:54.51) and Tom Luchsinger (1:54.61) also competed in the finale.

Women’s 50 free
Euro: 115, USA: 106
The European women freestylers are doing all they can to pull the All Stars to victory with a body blow in the team fight when they turned in a 1-2 in the sprint free.

Fran Halsall ripped off a 23.93 to win the splash-and-dash, moving her just outside of her seventh-ranked season best of 23.91 from Herning. Jeanette Ottesen-Gray, who stands sixth in the world with a 23.88, placed second overall in 24.02.

One of the youngsters on the Team USA squad, Simone Manuel, picked up an ever-important third-place point with a 24.41, while Olivia Smoliga just took fourth in 24.41.

Megan Romano (24.70) and Jessica Hardy (24.77), two of the veterans for Team Usa, took fifth and sixth.

Men’s 50 free
Euro: 115, USA: 115
The U.S. men’s sprint group countered with a huge 1-2-3 sweep to keep the Stars and Stripes in the team event.

Jimmy Feigen dominated the finale with a blistering 21.20 to move to 10th in the world rankings, while the veteran sprinters Cullen Jones and Anthony Ervin put up matching 21.27s to tie for second and close out a sweep of the nine points on offer in the event.

The heat pushed the U.S. back into a tie with a chance to pull off a comeback victory.

Adam Brown (21.40) and Ben Proud (21.84) placed fourth and fifth for the Europeans, while Shane Ryan wound up sixth in 22.14.

Women’s 200 IM
Euro: 121, USA: 118
The Europeans shook off Team USA’s knockout attempt in the 50 free with a 1-3 finish in the women’s medley en route to retaking the lead.

Sophie Allen posted a sterling 2:05.90 to win the finale, and move to third in the world rankings behind Katinka Hosszu (2:03.20) and Alicia Coutts (2:05.63). Hannah Miley, snared third-place points for Team Europe with a 2:08.55, while Caitlin Leverenz split the difference with a 2:06.77.

Aimee Willmott (2:08.60), Meghan Hawthorne (2:10.13), Sarah Henry (2:10.35) and Kathleen Baker (2:10.68) placed fourth through seventh in the heat.

Men’s 200 IM
Euro: 124, USA: 124
The U.S. set up the potential for a tie in the Duel in the Pool. Conor Dwyer hit the wall in 1:53.51 to capture the victory, while Roberto Pavoni set up the potential for a tiebreaker by clipping Chase Kalisz at the wall, 1:54.20 to 1:54.26.

Marco Koch (1:54.61), Tyler Clary (1:55.59), Cody Miller (1:56.31), Yannick Lebherz (1:57.22) and David Verraszto (1:58.27) rounded out the finale.

The tie heading into the relays set up the likelihood of a tie after the relays with the Europeans heavily favored in the women’s race and Team USA the top swimmers in the men’s freestyle relay. With a tie breaker, there’s a mixed 200 medley relay on the line as the tie breaker.

Women’s 400 free relay
Euro: 131, USA: 124
The European All-Star freestyle women, who have been the key to the Europeans having a chance for the massive upset these two days, came through in the clutch once again with a near world best time. The swim guaranteed at least a tie heading into the men’s 400 free relay.

Sweden’s Michelle Coleman, Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen-Gray, Great Britain’s Fran Halsall and The Netherlands’ Femke Heemskerk overhauled the Americans with a world-best time of 3:27.70. That time nearly cleared the world best of 3:27.53 clocked by the European All Stars in 2011 in Atlanta. Ottesen, Halsall, Aliaksandra Herasimenia and Ranomi Kromowidjojo put up that amazing time in the previous edition of the Duel.

The team tonight cannot stand as the world record, under The Netherlands’ 3:28.22 from 2008, with swimmers being from different nationalities.

Shannon Vreeland, Simone Manuel, Olivia Smoliga and Megan Romano finished second with a time of 3:28.96 as the young squad was outmatched by the more seasoned European team.

Men’s 400 free relay
Euro: 131, USA: 131
USA’s Cullen Jones had a monster anchor to close the door on the European All Stars and force the tie-breaker. The U.S. foursome of Jimmy Feigen, Anthony Ervin, Tom Shields and Jones took home the freestyle relay in a time of 3:06.66.

The European All-Stars gave it their all, never relenting until Jones overhauled Robbie Renwick on the anchor leg. Yannick Agnel pushed the All Stars to the lead with Adam Brown, Ben Proud and Renwick comprising the rest of the relay for a 3:07.95.

Mixed 200 medley relay
USA: 132, Euro: 131
In an extremely emotional tiebreaker finale, Team USA led wire-to-wire in an extremely exciting finish to capture the world record as well as the all important final point to win 132-131 to keep its Duel in the Pool record unblemished at 6-0.

Eugene Godsoe had the key leg, dominating Chris Walker-Hebborn 22.88 to 23.56 to open up the finale. Kevin Cordes and Damir Dugonjic matched each other with 25.40s, while Claire Donahue didn’t lose too much ground to Jeanette Ottesen-Gray, 24.76 to 25.28. Simone Manuel, the youngster of the team in an all-important anchor role, out-split Fran Halsall, 23.61 to 23.65, for the win as Team USA won 1:37.17 to 1:37.37.

Both teams surpassed the previous world record of 1:37.63 set by Russia’s Vitaly Melnikov, Yuliya Efimova, Svetlana Chimrova and Vlad Morozov at the European Short Course Championships in Herning a week ago.

USA: Eugene Godsoe (22.88), Kevin Cordes (25.40), Claire Donahue (25.28), Simone Manuel (23.61)

Euro All Stars: Chris Walker-Hebborn (23.56), Damir Dugonjic (25.40), Jeanette Ottesen-Gray (24.76), Fran Halsall (23.65)

Russia: Vitaly Melnikov (23.70), Yuliya Efimova (28.39), Svetlana Chimrova (25.29), Vlad Morozov (20.25)

Immediately at the touch, chants of U-S-A rang out in Scotland, much to the displeasure of the Scottish fans who were hoping to see an epic upset.

While many might say the Duel in the Pool this year was watered down with the likes of Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin. Katinka Hosszu, Vlad Morozov and Ranomi Kromowidjojo not in attendance, the meet still featured one of the most exciting storylines ever in the event’s history. With Team USA in chase mode the entire meet, never leading until the end, everyone had no clue what was going to happen.

The interest level in the event, as evidenced by the amazing amount of tweets upon the finale of the event, likely keeps this being a Team USA vs. Europe setup going forward.