DUEL IN THE POOL: The Michael Andrew Led USA Sink The Aussie Dolphins 309 points to 283 In An Epic Duel Meet In Sydney

TEAM USA WIN
DUEL CHAMPIONS: The USA flying the stars and stripes proudly on the Sydney Olympic Pool deck after winning the 2022 Duel In the Pool over arch rivals Australia.Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

DUEL IN THE POOL: The Michael Andrew Led USA Sink The Aussie Dolphins

The might of the world’s No 1 swimming nation the USA remained unbroken tonight with the Americans reigning supreme again  over Australia for a fourth time on the third and final day of an epic Duel In The Pool that saw swimming return to Sydney with a bang.

The Michael Andrew led Americans stole the show – winning by 26 points – 309 to the Dolphins 283 in a return to the innovative and exciting swimming meets that thrilled the fans in the 1990s and 2000s.

It was a combination of the original Skins Meet and the Mystery Medley first introduced in Sydney in 1996 and the first Duel In The Pool between world swimming’s two super powers in 2003 in Indianapolis.

COMBINED TEAM

MIGHT AND POWER: Team USA and Team AUS together on pool deck after two intensive days of competition at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Throw in a new batch of complicated power plays and flag frenzies and the welcome inclusion of the Paralympians and the 2022 version was a smash hit with the swimmers and the crowd.

A meet that attracted almost 7000 fans to the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre over the two pool sessions and featuring a combination of broken distance races, Skins Events, Mystery Medleys, the first Para and Able Body Relay tonight and a Random Relay to bring the curtain down on a fun night in the pool.

Day One Recap

Andrew was the MTV for the US team – using all of his skills over freestyle, butterfly and backstroke – with full support from the likes of Luke Hobson, Justin Ress and Shaine Casas who followed their leader to a tee.

WILL MARTIN RACE START

WHERE THERE’S A WILL? Para star Will Martin the next gen about to pounce. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Australia was well served by its latest swimming superstar in Mollie O’Callaghan and fellow rising Queensland Paralympic golden boy Will Martin.

While it was an emotion night for Australia’s two retiring Paralympic legends in Matt Levy and Ellie Cole who was chaired off pool deck after four Paralympics and five gold medals, 17 years on the swim team with Levy serving time on a remarkable five Paralympic teams.

Here is a wrap of Night two in the Duel In The Pool.

In the Mixed 6×50 metre freestyle –

Australia came from behind to win the opening event – the Mixed 6 x50 metre freestyle relay – featuring three man teams swimming twice and it was the Dolphins Shayna Jack who powered home over American anchor Linea Mack after Rio Olympic gold medallist Ryan Held and the experienced Mallory Comerford twice gave the US the lead against Meg Harris and Grayson Bell. And Jack summed it up saying: ”We just had to keep going, keep fighting till the end.” Double Points”

Women’s 800m freestyle Broken

The Australians Lani Pallister and Leah Neale led the field through the first 300m with Pallister (3:06.69) just edging out her Dolphins team mate Leah Neale and it was Pallister who fought back against a determined American Justina Kozan to also touch ahead in the second 200m. In the second 200 it was American Bella Sims who out-touched Pallister in a thrilling swim to the wall before Sims and Neale fought strongly to the wall in the final 100m. But it was Pallister on combined times who took the points ahead of Sims and Kareena Lee (AUS).

Men’s 200m freestyle: A powerful third 50m set up an impressive win in the 200m to the USA’s Luke Hobson in an all-American finish ahead of Trenton Julian and Grant House who led at the 50 (25.14) and the 100m (51.68) before Hobson took over splitting 1:19.01 and he was never headed.

Ellie Cole chaired off

FITTING FAREWELL: Ellie Cole chaired off pool deck for the final time by team mates Matt Temple and Grayson Bell. Photo Courtesy:Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Mixed 4×50 freestyle MC/AB Relay (2x S9 and 2 x AB)

In an historic event the USA claimed the first ever win in the combined and mixed multi class and able bodied relay, with their team of Amy Fulmer, Lizzie Smith, Jamal Hill and David Curtiss to strong for the Dolphins foursome of Emma McKeon, Ellie Cole, Will Martin and Grayson Bell.

Women’s 3x50m freestyle Skins

First out were Linea Mack (USA) and World championship bronze medallist Meg Harris (AUS) with the US pair Mallory Comerford and Gabi Albiero eliminated in the second 50, leaving an all-Australian final between Shayna Jack and Madi Wilson who cruised down the final lap in synchronised swimming style with Jack out-touching Wilson.

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DUEL MVP: Michael Andrew. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

 

Men’s 3x50m breaststroke Skins

Into the grandstand after race one were Australian pair See-Bom Lee and Zac Stubblety-Cook and it was Kevin Housman and Chase Kalisz joining them, leaving Michael Andrew and Sam Williamson to fight out the Skins final, with both camps talking tactics before both swimmers easing their way down the third 50m with Andrew cruising through for the win before Australia pushed the buzzer for a fourth swim and a Double Dip for double points. A hush came over the pool and it was Andrew who “stole” the race in 27.19 – and a win that saw the US race to a 15-point buffer 215-200.

Women’s 100m butterfly

And desperate for points the Aussies called a “Flag Frenzy” chasing double points and Emma McKeon delivered in style in 57.05 ahead of Gabi Albiero, Brianna Throssell and Beata Nelson. “I like knowing there is extra pressure and it makes me go harder,” said McKeon.

Women’s 3x50m Backstroke Skins 

Eliminated first up in an all-star field were Beata Nelson and Linea Mack putting pressure on the USA’s Amy Fulmer who couldn’t keep pace with the three Australians with Madi Wilson also eliminated leaving Kaylee McKeown and Mollie O’Callaghan progressing to the “swim down” final won by McKeown and with the Dolphins gaining maximum points and 224 to 226 and narrowing the gap to two points in favour of the USA.

Men’s 4x100m freestyle

Australian Zac Incerti upset Ryan Held in the first leg 48.77 to 48.83 before Shaine Casas out-touched Matt Temple and it was Luke Hobson backing up after his 200m win to open up a lead over Cody Simpson, leaving Grant House to anchor the Americans home against Shaun Champion in 3:14.15 to 3:15.345 – giving the Americans a 12 point spread 230 to 242 – after coach Dave Salo called a Power Play and they delivered double points.

Men’s 100m backstroke

And it was US 50m world champion from Budapest this year Justin Ress who gave the Americans what would be unassailable lead after coach Dave Salo dropped the “Flag Frenzy” and Ress delivered the double points ahead Aussie pair Bradley Woodward and Ty Hartwell with the Americans going to a 16 point spread.

Mixed 3x50m Freestyle Para Skins (Staggered start)

AN emotional Ellie Cole, who retires from the sport after a glittering Paralympic career, was among the first eliminated with fellow Dolphins Ashleigh McConnell and they were soon joined by fellow retiree Matt Levy and Jamal Hill (USA) after the second 50m and it was Will Martin who claimed top points for Australia powering over the top of US girls Lizzie Smith and Mackenzie Coan.

Women’s 100m freestyle

The reigning World and Commonwealth champion Mollie O’Callaghan (54.01) powered home over the second 50m to out-touch team mate Madi Wilson (54.15) in this 100m freestyle with USA’s Amy Fulmer third in 55.11. O’Callaghan touched third at the 50m.

Men’s 400m freestyle broken

America’s David Johnston threw down the gauntlet to take the first 200m in 1:50.74 (53.82) before team mate Luke Hobson took the 100m in 51.74, just ahead of Rio Olympic champion Mack Horton, looming for the win overall but it was Grant House (USA) who spoilt the Australian party taking the 100m win – giving the US three bonus points.

Men’s 50m freestyle

American David Curtiss (21.84) led a 1-2 finish to the visitors ahead of Ryan Held with Australian champion Thomas Nowakowski to secure a further points break to the US pushing further ahead 255 to 273.

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STYLE QUEEN: Chelsea Hodges powering to a Duel victory. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Women’s 100m breaststroke

Tokyo Olympic medley relay golden girl Chelsea Hodges fought on strongly over the final stages after leading all the way (31.13/1:06.90) to earn valuable points for the Dolphins ahead of USA’s Kaitlyn Dobler (1:07.60) and Jenna Strauch (AUS).  

Men’s 3x50m butterfly Skins

Out first were Matt Temple (AUS) and Chase Kalisz (USA) reeling at the end of a busy program, leaving lone Aussie Shaun Champion facing US trio Michael Andrew, Shaine Casas and Trenton Julian and in the end it was Andrew and Casas, two of the stars of this US team who graduated to the final, with newly crowned US champion Casas winning a shoot-out with Andrew 24.70 to 24.91 – extending the US lead to 25 points – 2567 to 292.

Mixed 100m freestyle Para

Featuring long-standing Para swimmers Ellie Cole and Matt Levy who retired after this race…. Said Matt: “I just wanted to enjoy the experience and it’s been amazing and to do it in front of a home crowd….

Ellie: “ I’ve loved Duel and what a way to go out and she asked for a round of applause for all the guardians and parents.”

An event won by next generation Will Martin from US pair Mackenzie Coan and Lizzie Smith. 

Women’s Mystery Medley

And with the Duel pointscore out of reach World and Commonwealth champion Kaylee McKeown was determined to finish on a high note and that’ just what she did winning the 200IM Mystery Medley swimming freestyle, butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke and clocking 2:12.75 for the Commonwealth Games silver medallist in the 200IM in Birmingham.

Random Relay

In arguably the most random of all of the random events was the aptly named Random Relay, after a “chocolate wheel” spin saw the US swim a 2 x200m freestyle (Grant House and Bella Sims) verses the Australian team doing a 4x100m freestyle (Zac Incerti, Cody Simpson, Madi Wilson and Mollie O’Callaghan) With the US receiving a 19 second handicap, reduced to six seconds before O’Callaghan took off in hot pursuit of Sims – with the jewel in Australia swimming pool, Mollie O claiming the first and final relay wins for Australia but it was the USA who remained unbeaten in Duel In The Pool competitions – taking the pointscore 283-309.

HACKY AND PEIRSOL

FINAL SPLASH: Duel captains and Olympic golden boys Grant Hackett and Aaron Peirsol back in the “Pool Of Dreams” 22 years after Sydney 2000. Photo Courtesy:Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).