Aussies Jump Out To Early Lead As Duel In The Pool Gets Underway With Open Water Events

by Paul D. Bowker

Bella Sims prepares to compete in the 4x800-meter open water relay at the 2022 Duel in the Pool on Aug. 19, 2022 in Sydney.


The top two medal-winning countries in the swimming competition at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are meeting head-to-head this weekend in Sydney for the Duel in the Pool.

The Aussies struck first Friday, winning the 4x800-meter open water mixed relay, held off the coast of Bondi Beach. The race was the only open water competition in the three-day event, which heads indoors Saturday and Sunday for a variety of events at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.

The Duel in the Pool is being held for the first time in seven years and includes Paralympic events for the first time.

The U.S. and Australia combined for 51 Olympic medals last year in Tokyo with the U.S. capturing 11 gold medals, 10 silver medals and nine bronze medals. Australia’s 21 medals included nine gold. The U.S. also won the most medals at this year’s FINA Championships with a record 45.

Both countries are also strong on the Para side. Team USA ranked third in the medal table in Tokyo with 35 medals, including 10 gold, and Australia was sixth with 33 medals. The U.S. ranked second, behind Italy, with 40 medals at June’s world championships. Australia was seventh with 31.

Bella Sims of Las Vegas and Charlie Clark of Sandusky, Ohio, who were on the 4x1,500 open water mixed relay team that finished seventh at the world championships, started for the U.S. along with newcomers David Johnston, a University of Texas swimmer from Dallas, and Tylor Mathieu, a University of Florida swimmer from Hebron, Connecticut.

“It was so fun getting to swim a race in such an iconic place like Bondi Beach,” Clark told

“It is honestly a dream come true to do this,” said Clark, who added he was a spectator in Indianapolis as a middle-school student when the last Duel in the Pool was held in 2015. “It’s been an amazing opportunity to represent Team USA.”

Kareena Lee, Chelsea Gubecka, Kai Edwards and Kyle Lee won the race for Australia, and put the Aussies in front by a score of 8-6.

The Duel resumes at 5 a.m. ET Saturday with the first of 39 pool events, the mixed 4x100 medley relay.

Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.