U.S. Swimmers Capture Eighth Consecutive Duel In The Pool Title
by Bob Reinert
Justin Ress celebrates after the 50-meter backstroke skins at the 2022 Duel in the Pool on Aug. 20, 2022 in Sydney.
After a seven-year hiatus, the Duel in the Pool returned this weekend with the same result as always — a U.S. victory.
The Americans finished off the unique three-day swim meet Sunday with a 309-284 victory over Australia at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre. The U.S. has now won this event eight straight times, four against Australia and four versus Europe.
Australia, which trailed by 13 points entering the final day of competition, pulled to within two points after sweeping the first three places in the women’s 3x50-meter backstroke-skins. However, the Americans had an answer for every Aussie challenge.
The matter was pretty much settled when Shaine Casas and Michael Andrew finished first and second, respectively, in the final leg of the men’s 3x50 butterfly-skins to send the U.S. ahead by more than 20 points with three events remaining.
“My legs really hurt, but I’m really excited to be here and (for) this opportunity,” Casas said after the win. “This is awesome.”
Earlier in the evening, Andrew, a 2020 Olympic gold medalist, had cruised to a victory in the final leg of the men’s 3x50 breaststroke-skins.
Justin Ress, the reigning world champion in the men’s 50 backstroke, racked up a double-points win in the 100 back traditional, posting a time of 53.12 seconds.
“I’m pretty happy with that. It’s all about just getting your hand on the wall first,” Ress said. “It’s really exciting. Anytime you go anywhere with a huge swim culture, it’s really (great) to swim there.”
Luke Hobson had a personal-best time of 1:45.59 in his win in the men’s 200 freestyle.
“I told myself earlier this summer I wanted to be able to go (1:45) and got it done here, but really, I’m happy to get the win for the U.S.,” said Hobson, adding that he liked the Duel in the Pool format. “It’s so much fun. It’s a blast racing in this pool with an amazing crowd. It’s been a really fun meet.”
Hobson also took second in the 400 free-broken and was part of the winning men’s 4x100 free relay traditional, along with Ryan Held, Casas and Grant House.
In the first Duel in the Pool to feature Para athletes, the U.S. won the debut of the mixed class/able-bodied freestyle relay with the team of Amy Fulmer, Jamal Hill, Lizzi Smith and David Curtiss.
“It’s the biggest honor being part of history in this way,” said Smith, a three-time Paralympic medalist. “We have been fighting for this for a very long time, just equal representation in sport and the opportunity to show everyone that elite sport comes in all different shapes and sizes and abilities.”
Curtiss also won the men’s 50 freestyle traditional, finishing one-two with Held.
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.