The inaugural Duel in the Pool between Loughborough University and University of Toronto is slated for this Saturday, November 3rd. The idea came from witnessing the thrill of the NCAA duel meet. Archive photo via“Rafael/Domeyko Photography”
An exciting new meet concept is headed to Britain this weekend, as Loughborough University is hosting its first-ever duel in the pool against the University of Toronto. A 36-strong Toronto squad featuring the likes of powerhouse Olympian Kylie Masse and World Junior Championships medalist Rebecca Smith are set to descend upon the British Swimming National Centre on Saturday, November 3rd to contest 28 events, including 4 relays.
Loughborough Coach Ian Hulme described the inspiration for the meet, which he hopes will grow into a regular aquatic attraction. “During my time training in America, I was always fascinated by the US Collegiate system and the hype and excitement around dual meets. Our University system works different in the UK and we don’t compete in dual meets so to be able to have the Toronto University fly over to the UK and go head to head with us is extremely exciting for our sport.
He continued, “We are always looking to promote the sport of swimming to a wider audience and hopefully this meet could be the catalyst for something bigger in the future. We’d love for other programmes around the world to be involved and hopefully one day have a quad meet with 4 University programmes from 4 different countries all over the world”
Each swimmer may race a maximum of 3 individual events at the inaugural duel, with points scored by the fastest 2 swimmers from each university assigned 5-3-2-1, respectively. Relays earn double points. Although there will be some exhibition swimmers, only those studying at University will be eligible to score points.
Among those on Loughborough’s squad are 200m breaststroke Commonwealth Games champion James Wilby, European breaststroke silver medalist Imogen Clarkand Marie Wattel, who studies at Loughborough, but represents France internationally. Swimmers Joe Litchfield and Molly Renshaw are set to make exhibition appearances.
Director of Swimming Loughborough, Andi Manley, says of the upcoming competition, “We are delighted to welcome the University of Toronto – Canada’s leading university swimming programme, to Loughborough for what promises to be both an exciting and a first of its kind Dual Meet. The meet looks like it will be highly competitive across all 24 individual and 4 relay events with over ten international athletes matching up in this early season encounter.
“We have a great deal of admiration for coaches Byron and Linda and their Toronto team and after the success of our “virtual dual meet” last season, we are thrilled they have made the journey across to the UK. Our team are bouncing off this meet into the BUCS Swimming Championships next week in Sheffield and are sure that this experience will give our athletes the ideal preparation through sharpening up of racing skills and firing up their competitive spirit”
Byron Macdonald, Head Coach Toronto, echoed the sentiments, commenting, “The University of Toronto is extremely excited to take our historic virtual meet with Loughborough last year to an on-site meet this year. Loughborough is a phenomenally strong team and while they are favoured to win the meet, the racing will be superb for all involved. Going somewhere different against totally unfamiliar faces (and avoiding the same old hotels and pools) is something that I feel very strongly about and I believe this trip will enrich our swimmers lives in and out of the pool.”