U.S. Swimmers Splash Ahead Down Under At Duel In The Pool
by Bob Reinert
Michael Andrew competes during the men's 100-meter breaststroke at the 2022 Duel in the Pool on Aug. 20, 2022 in Sydney.
This is no traditional swim meet.
The Duel in the Pool being held this weekend in Sydney features unique relay races, mixed events, “skins” elimination formats and “broken” races.
Broad smiles and frequent waves to an enthusiastic crowd at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre were the order of the night Saturday for swimmers from both teams, who clearly enjoyed the refreshing change that this meet offered.
American victories in the final two events Saturday gave the U.S. an expected lead entering Sunday’s final night of competition in a three-day event that began Friday with an open water relay race. Official point tallies will be calculated overnight, so the immediate results are considered unofficial.
After Olympic relay silver medalist Bella Sims led from start to finish in the women’s 200-meter freestyle and won with a time of 1:57.75, the U.S. won the random mixed relay, which turned out to be in a medley format.
“Once we found out it was a medley, we were very stoked,” Olympic relay gold medalist Michael Andrew said in an interview after the race. “We knew that gave us a little bit of an upper hand. We were happy just to execute and end the session with a high note.”
World champion Justin Ress and Andrew sent the U.S. out to an explosive start with their legs in the 50 backstroke and 50 breaststroke, respectively. Gabi Albiero in the butterfly leg and Linnea Mack doing the freestyle finished out the win.
“I had a feeling it was going to be freestyle, either way,” Mack said. “It was just a matter of getting to the other side as fast as you can, no matter what stroke it is, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Andrew also won the 100 breaststroke and led a 1-2-3 U.S. finish with Ress and Shaine Casas in the 3x50 backstroke-skins.
Casas earned double points for the U.S. with a win in the men’s 100 butterfly. He finished the race in 50.86 seconds. Sims recorded a win in the women’s 400 free-broken event as well.
Ryan Held, a 2016 Olympic relay gold medalist, won the men’s 100 freestyle with a time of 48.20 seconds and won all three races in the 3x50 free-skins.
The first Duel in the Pool since 2015, this year’s event is also the first to include Para swimming races.
McKenzie Coan, a four-time Paralympic gold medalist competing, won the mixed multi-class 100 free race with a time of 1:10.91. Lizzi Smith, a three-time Paralympic medalist, and Coan finished second and third, respectively, in the 3x50 form stroke-skins.
“I wanted it really badly, so this is the one race I really thought I could perform well and execute,” Coan said of the 100 free. “Winning an event and scoring points in a joint setting with para and able-bodied athletes is a dream.”
The meet concludes with 19 events Sunday, beginning at 5 a.m. ET.
Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.