2022 Duel In The Pool Preview: Australian Depth Outmatches The Americans


  • Friday, August 19 – Sunday, August 21, 2022
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre (pool swimming, Aug. 20-21)
  • Bondi Beach (open water, Aug. 19)
  • Start Times
    • Friday – open water: 9:00 am local / 7:00 pm ET on Thursday
    • Saturday – 7:00 pm local / 5:00 am ET
    • Sunday – 7:00 pm local / 5:00 am ET
  • LCM (50m)
  • Meet Central

The Duel In The Pool is making its return after a seven-year hiatus, with a three-day showdown between the United States and Australia set to kick off on Friday in Sydney.

On paper, there’s little doubt that the Australians come in with a much deeper roster, particularly on the women’s side, as the Aussies bring in some of the best female swimmers in the sport, led by Emma McKeonKaylee McKeown and Mollie O’Callaghan.

The men’s rosters look more evenly matched, though the competition will have an extremely unique event schedule, featuring things like “mystery” IM races, “broken” 400 and 800 freestyles, “random” relay races and three-round skins events like we’ve seen in the International Swimming League.

This quirky schedule makes predicting how things will transpire virtually impossible, but we’ll do our best.

With multiple relays and skins events, having versatility across the 50 and 100-meter events figures to be the biggest determinator of success at the meet.

There are a lot of intricacies in the events and how they’re scored. Here are a few notes on some of the different races:

  • “Broken” freestyle events – Swimmers stop throughout the race at certain distances to earn points. For example, the 400 free has a 200-meter race, followed by a pair of 100-meter races, with points awarded to the winner of each.
  • Skins events – Like we saw in the ISL, six swimmers gets whittled down to four and ultimately two in the final in a three-round event.
  • “Mystery” IM – The order of the strokes is determined at random prior to the start of the race.
  • “Random” relays – Teams select two male, two female swimmers prior to the relay format being determined at random (spinning a wheel)
  • Multi-Class Form-Stroke Events – These will be pre-determined staggered starts based on the 100-meter world record for each Para swimmer’s chosen stroke.


Note that Para events are included (“Multi-Class”)

Day 1

  • Open Water – 4x800m relay

Day 2

  • Women’s 400 broken freestyle
  • Men’s 100 butterfly (traditional)
  • Mixed 4×50 Multi-Class freestyle relay
  • Women’s 50 butterfly skins (3 rounds)
  • Men’s 100 breaststroke (traditional)
  • Women’s 50 freestyle (traditional)
  • Women’s 50 breaststroke skins (3 rounds)
  • Men’s 800 broken freestyle
  • Men’s 100 freestyle (traditional)
  • Multi-Class 100 freestyle (staggered starts)
  • Women’s 4×100 medley relay (traditional)
  • Men’s 50 backstroke skins (3 rounds)
  • Mixed Multi-Class & Able-bodied relay
  • Men’s 200 IM (mystery)
  • Women’s 100 backstroke (traditional)
  • Men’s 50 freestyle skins (3 rounds)
  • Multi-Class 50 Form-Stroke Skins (3 rounds)
  • Women’s 200 freestyle (traditional)
  • Mixed 4×50 random relay (2M, 2F)

Day 3

  • Mixed 6×50 freestyle relay (1M, 2F, each swimmer goes twice)
  • Women’s 800 broken freestyle
  • Men’s 200 freestyle (traditional)
  • Mixed 4×100 Multi-Class freestyle relay
  • Women’s 50 freestyle skins (3 rounds)
  • Men’s 50 breaststroke skins (3 rounds)
  • Women’s 100 butterfly (traditional)
  • Women’s 50 backstroke skins (3 rounds)
  • Men’s 4×100 freestyle relay (traditional)
  • Men’s 100 backstroke (traditional)
  • Multi-Class 50 freestyle skins (3 rounds)
  • Women’s 100 freestyle (traditional)
  • Men’s 400 broken freestyle
  • Celebrity 4×50 relay – listed as “for entertainment”
  • Men’s 50 freestyle (traditional)
  • Women’s 100 breaststoke (traditional)
  • Men’s 50 butterfly skins (3 rounds)
  • Multi-Class 100 Form-Stroke
  • Women’s 200 IM (mystery)
  • 2×200 vs 4×100 freestyle random relay

According to an outline of the event rules, the “traditional” events will be raced 2v2 (two Aussie and two Americans), the skins will be 3v3, and the relays will be 1v1.

Below, find a breakdown of the top-four swimmers in each 50 and 100-meter event this year (max three per country), along with the 200 IM, to see which side will have the sprint advantage in Sydney.

Depth Chart – Men

Men’s 50 Freestyle

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Michael Andrew (USA) 21.41
2 David Curtiss (USA) 21.76
3 Ryan Held (USA) 21.85
4 Tom Nowakowski (AUS) 21.86

Men’s 100 Freestyle

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Ryan Held (USA) 47.85
2 Shaine Casas (USA) 48.23
3 Justin Ress (USA) 48.38
4 Matt Temple (AUS) 49.11

Men’s 50 Backstroke

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Justin Ress (USA) 23.92
2 Shaine Casas (USA) 24.00
3 Michael Andrew (USA) 24.64
4 Bradley Woodward (AUS) 25.08

Men’s 100 Backstroke

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Shaine Casas (USA) 52.51
2 Justin Ress (USA) 52.73
3 Mitch Larkin (AUS) 53.73
4 Michael Andrew (USA) 53.97

Men’s 50 Breaststroke

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Michael Andrew (USA) 26.52
2 Sam Williamson (AUS) 26.97
3 Kevin Houseman (USA) 27.22
4 Grayson Bell (AUS) 27.63

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Michael Andrew (USA) 58.51
2 Zac Stubblety-Cook (AUS) 59.51
3 Sam Williamson (AUS) 59.82
4 Kevin Houseman (USA) 1:00.05

Men’s 50 Butterfly

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Michael Andrew (USA) 22.79
2 Matt Temple (AUS) 23.63
3 Cody Simpson (AUS) 23.68
4 Grayson Bell (AUS) 23.92

Men’s 100 Butterfly

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Shaine Casas (USA) 50.40
2 Michael Andrew (USA) 50.88
3 Trenton Julian (USA) 51.10
4 Matt Temple (AUS) 51.15

Men’s 200 IM

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Shaine Casas (USA) 1:55.24
2 Chase Kalisz (USA) 1:56.21
3 Trenton Julian (USA) 1:58.30
4 Brendon Smith (AUS) 1:58.59

On the men’s side, there’s no disputing that the Americans are significantly stronger in terms of the sprints. While we should note that someone like Michael Andrew can’t possibly race all of the events he’s listed in at an optimal level due to there only being two sessions, the Americans are still stronger in each stroke on the men’s side in the 50s and 100s.

Depth Chart – Women

Women’s 50 Freestyle

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Emma McKeon (AUS) 23.99
2 Shayna Jack (AUS) 24.14
3 Meg Harris (AUS) 24.32
4 Amy Fulmer (USA) 24.86

Women’s 100 Freestyle

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Mollie O’Callaghan (AUS) 52.49
2 Shayna Jack (AUS) 52.6
3 Emma McKeon (AUS) 52.94
4 Mallory Comerford (USA) 54.09

Women’s 50 Backstroke

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Mollie O’Callaghan (AUS) 27.46
2 Kaylee McKeown (AUS) 27.47
3 Amy Fulmer (USA) 28.19
4 Linnea Mack (USA) 29.19

Women’s 100 Backstroke

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Kaylee McKeown (AUS) 58.31
2 Mollie O’Callaghan (AUS) 59.12
3 Amy Fulmer (USA) 1:00.00
4 Beata Nelson (USA) 1:00.53

Women’s 50 Breaststroke

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Chelsea Hodges (AUS) 30.05
2 Kaitlyn Dobler (USA) 30.34
3 Jenna Strauch (AUS) 30.77
4 Annie Lazor (USA) 30.89

Women’s 100 Breaststroke

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Annie Lazor (USA) 1:05.91
2 Jenna Strauch (AUS) 1:06.16
3 Kaitlyn Dobler (USA) 1:06.19
4 Chelsea Hodges (AUS) 1:06.94

Women’s 50 Butterfly

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Emma McKeon (AUS) 25.90
2 Brianna Throssell (AUS) 26.05
3 Gabi Albiero (USA) 26.51
4 Beata Nelson (USA) 26.53

Women’s 100 Butterfly

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Emma McKeon (AUS) 56.38
2 Brianna Throssell (AUS) 56.96
3 Gabi Albiero (USA) 57.82
4 Beata Nelson (USA) 58.24

Women’s 200 IM

Rank Swimmer Time
1 Kaylee McKeown (AUS) 2:08.57
2 Beata Nelson (USA) 2:11.76
3 Justina Kozan (USA) 2:12.56
4 Mackenzie Looze (USA) 2:13.28

The advantage for the women is clearly on Australia’s side, and the gap in ability in the sprint freestyle events specifically is significant. Not only will that give Australia a massive boost in the individual and skins events there, but it will also propel them to a lot of success in the relays.

Of course, there are some longer events on the schedule where some of the more distance-oriented names will do some damage.

On the men’s side, the U.S. has distance freestylers like Charlie ClarkLuke Hobson and David Johnston to lean on, while the Aussies have Mack Horton and Brendon Smith.

The American women have Bella Sims and Tylor Mathieu, and Australia has Lani PallisterTamsin Cook, and some mid-distance threats including Leah Neale and Madi Wilson.

So much of this is hard to predict given the format, but it’s clear the advantage the Australian women have over the men makes this an uphill climb for the U.S. squad.

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Teach taxi
7 months ago

Streaming for pool events was posted, will open water be shown anywhere?

7 months ago

no open water for team USA?

7 months ago

2-day pool meet, 19-20 events per day (not to mention multi-swim events/’skins’), bunch of nonsense events… seriously you could pit the USA vs AUS National Teams against each-other in a regular meet (celebrity relay kind of stuff still sounds like a fun addition), where events actually count for records, etc. and have it be much more of a commercial success. They should have an actual swim fan run this.

Side note – is there anywhere one can find Duel in the Pool records? A full list for all the real events?

Last edited 7 months ago by SwimmerFan99
Reply to  SwimmerFan99
7 months ago

I think they knew they were never getting the A team from either side so they decided to make it “fun”. It wouldn’t really be fun to watch a schedule with just Olympic events but missing huge stars from each country.

I think it’s pretty universally agreed that this event really shouldn’t have been scheduled this year but since it’s here I’m just trying to have fun with it.

Reply to  Sub13
7 months ago

Agree. Let’s just enjoy it for what it is…… a bit of fun really.

Emily Se-Bom Lee
Reply to  SwimmerFan99
7 months ago

no official list, but I compiled this by going through all the lcm editions of the meet
(2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 aus v jpn)

50 free – Cullen Jones (USA) | 21.96 | 2007
100 free – Eamon Sullivan (AUS) | 48.40 | 2009
200 free – Grant Hackett (AUS) | 1:46.64 | 2003
100 back – Ryosuke Irie (JPN) | 52.54 | 2009
100 breast – Brendan Hansen (USA) | 59.51 | 2005
100 fly – Andrew Lauterstein (AUS) | 51.52 | 2009
4×100 free – Australia | 3:16.03 | 2009

50 free – Libby Lenton (AUS) | 24.93 | 2007
100 free – Libby Trickett (AUS)… Read more »

Reply to  Emily Se-Bom Lee
7 months ago

Was it really just those 6 individual events plus one relay per gender? That’s like… barely even an event haha

Emily Se-Bom Lee
Reply to  Sub13
7 months ago

there were more events in previous editions, but I only compiled times for events in this year’s program

Reply to  SwimmerFan99
7 months ago

To be fair: 39 events over 2 days. 7 of those are para events. The other 32 events have mostly 2 (3 for skins, 4 for relays) swimmers out of 24 for each team. Even the biggest stars on each team won’t be swimming more than 5 events per session surely? And some team members will like only get 2 per session. Smaller volume than ISL which ran for weeks in a row.

Reply to  Sub13
7 months ago

It’s easier to do multiple swims in short course than long course.

7 months ago

There is just way too much going on to make any sense of this event. Maybe the US has some swimmers coming in on an end of summer taper but I don’t think it matters for the women. Suspect this may end up being a dud from a competition standpoint

Reply to  Taa
7 months ago

Depends what you mean by that. Will the overall score be competitive? Yes I think so. But that’s only because US men and Aus women will wipe the floor with the competition.

If you mean “will they swim competitive times” then no, very doubtful.

7 months ago

Has Australia’s vaccination policy changed or is MA now vaccinated cause I’m wondering how he got in and Novak Djokovic couldn’t?

Reply to  Tyson
7 months ago

The border policy changed in early July.

7 months ago

The Aussie women are going to show that nobody comes into their house and pushes them around by having some of their best swim in this event. The American women just won’t be able to match up. Its nice to allow some different US women to compete there but when we get drubbed it’s not going to do much for American swimming pride.

Reply to  Mike
7 months ago

There are two things working in the Americans’ favor:

1) SCM (I think the US team, like Beata Nelson, is generally going to fare better in short course than they would in long course)
2) Timing. Some of the US team has had a 6 week cycle since Worlds, others have had a three-plus month cycle since Trials. Australia is just coming back from Commonwealth Games, and I bet many have not been in the pool in 10 days.

But yeah, Australia should win this for sure.

Reply to  Braden Keith
7 months ago

When I emailed Swimming Australia they said it’s in long course. Did they give you different info?

Reply to  Troyy
7 months ago

Yeah maybe you’re right? I can’t keep up.

Reply to  Braden Keith
7 months ago

I thought the meet was long course otherwise would they not have 100 im on the program

Reply to  Braden Keith
7 months ago

Isn’t Australia at an advantage with SCM, given that they actually swim SCM in Australia, unlike the US where it’s LCM os SCY?

Reply to  Bat
7 months ago

For the most part Australia only cares about LCM, and SCY and SCM are more similar to each other than SCM and LCM.

Last edited 7 months ago by Troyy
Reply to  Bat
7 months ago

Almost no one in Australia swims SCM while every American swimmer ever has done a LOT of SCY which is extremely similar to SCM.

7 months ago

Seems like McKeon and Simpson will be getting straight of the plane from Europe to compete at DITP.

Reply to  Troyy
7 months ago

They stopped posting insta stories about 24 hours ago so I assume they’re on the trip home now, arrive tomorrow, gives them 2 days to adjust…

Reply to  Jamesjabc
7 months ago

I think the adjustment isn’t nearly as big of an issue when you don’t have prelims/finals. Not that it’s a *total non-issue*, but it’s much easier to work out some sleep when you only need to be *on* for about 4 hours total, rather than when you need to be *on* for 4 hours in the morning and another 4 hours in the evening.

Reply to  Braden Keith
7 months ago

I don’t think it’ll really matter. Emma should win her individual events handily even nowhere near her best, while Cody wouldn’t win even if he swam PBs. So the jet lag is probably a non-issue

Hooked on Chlorine
7 months ago

The Australia depth outmatches that of the US?

That’s fine with me.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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