Duel in the Pool 2013 Final Thoughts: The Outcome Didn’t Matter as Much as the Score

The 2013 Duel in the Pool was the most exciting edition of the meet yet. In fact, since the modern incarnation of this series, a USA vs. Australia battle in 2003, there has never been more anticipation about a Duel, and neither the Americans nor their European opponents disappointed.

The meet came down to a tie-breaker, which the Americans won in a new World Record pace to give themselves the meet title for the 6th-straight edition by a single point.

This meet had a lot of good things happen. The American men maybe earned a bit of their swagger back – they’ve been maligned over the last year, in the post-Phelps era, for lacking any real depth save for their superstar Ryan Lochte who tends to balance out the medal load. At this meet, however, it was the men’s team who carried the women to a one-point victory.

We also learned a lot about what makes for a successful, exciting, electric swim meet, and that’s “teams”. Teams in swimming are the way of the future. It was easy to ignore at the NCAA level, because NCAA fans are rabid for no reason in particular, but we’ve now seen that this effect carries over to the international level as well.

The Tollcross International Swim Centre in Glasgow was packed all weekend long, and it was electric all weekend long, creating an atmosphere that is rarely seen in swimming. It may even sound a bit blasphemous, but taking into account the two-day packed schedule, this meet brought together even more excitement than the Olympics.

Not only do we need team battles, though, we need CLOSE team battles. Based on anecdotal social media evidence, this battle brought in huge audiences in Europe for the live televised version, though in the United States fans will have to wait until a tape-delay on Sunday (and if you’re reading this, you already know the outcome). So often when swimming tries to put together team-oriented meets, though, including at the NCAA level, they’re absolute blowouts. For the team strategy to work, we need more of this: 1-point victories, some way to improve parity, some way to force the meet to be decided in the last 4-5 events. It will take some creativity, but it can be done.

This series, which was on the verge of losing all momentum, was snapped back to life on Saturday. Hopefully by the time the 2015 meet rolls around (which should be back in the United States), it will gain energy again and we’ll see a full contingent from both squads.

Congratulations to the Americans on winning a hard-fought meet: a meet where both teams can make the argument that they left an easy win at home in the form of injured, tired, occupied, or disinterested swimmers (the truth of the matter is that if both sides bring their best 40 swimmers, the Europeans would win the meet). And a special, special congratulations to British Swimming for running a fantastic meet, despite some challenges along the way. They presented an exciting meet, they conquered the challenges as they came, and what was really special is that across their social media platforms, they gave a balanced accounting of the meet that helped drum-up excitement on both sides of the pond. They nailed this weekend, and the 2013 Duel in the Pool should become a case-study for federations around the world.

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I encourage you guys to share the results of the meet. This is not an obscure swimming thing only swimmers would understand, like the significance of Manadou going 45.04.

Anyone can understand this: America took on Europe in swimming and tied in regulation, forcing an overtime thriller. Awaken the American patriot inside a casual observer, or the Euro-centric indignation in Europeans.

This, unlike 95% of swimming, can mean something to people.

NornIron Swim

This was such an exciting finish! Being in the crowd to see such great swims was a Christmas treat! We’ll done USA but I’m gutted that we lost…


Right on McGillRocks! I couldn’t believe it. Complete with the moving entry screens, to the fire and flames ala US Olympic trials, to the massive tie-breaker. Swimming is a real sport! I had to clean up my apartment after watching this meet cause furniture and stuff got knocked over in this Euro-melee.

And when do the Americans get to watch this on NBC?
Will they show the insane thrilling end, or will they have to cut away to… ?


Cut away to what? Heidi?


Cut away to some scheduled commercial programming peppered with more commercials throughout. I don’t know, like whatever’s on tv these days. How about a reality TV show which takes place at Mall of America and the participants walk through various chain stores sampling different products and clothing you can buy, all to be interrupted every seven minutes for a commercial break. No big whoop.


I think you missed my point. I was thinking of the Heidi Game which was also broadcast by NBC. Despite being an exciting game between two rivals a miscommunication caused the show “Heidi” to be broadcast over top of the game’s final minutes which decided the outcome when the game ran over the time slot.



Right, you were serious. That’s hilarious, I missed that one, got born too late. Keep rockin the McGill.


NBC showing it 4pm EST tomorrow

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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