All it would take is someone putting themselves out there. Somebody taking a risk, and doing it. The men that have taken that leap are former Michigan Wolverine, and current USA Swimming National Teamer, Bobby Savulich and Club Wolverine Elite coach Mark Hill, who may just have come up with an idea that is going to revolutionize professional swimming.
From November 16th-17th at Michigan’s Canham Natatorium, Club Wolverine will play host to the first meet in a series that they are calling quite simply “Pro Duel Meet 1.”
This is exactly what swimming has been longing for. A high-level, professional dual meet, where points will matter, where every swim by every swimmer will count, where there’s no high school swimmers, no amateurs, nor hoardes of age groupers involved. Just a cut-and-dry showdown of East versus West, all professionals, all of whom swim not only to win, but to make a living.
This meet has taken quite a few hands to put together, but Hill has been labeled as the visionary behind the concept. Hill is the co-Meet Director along with Savulich, who has spear-headed much of the marketing and networking involved in making the meet happen.
Savulich believes that “this meet will bring excitement to our sport in an exciting, intense, and fun atmosphere,” and I couldn’t agree with him more. This first meet will be all male, though Savulich hopes that with increased interest, he will get enough women committed to expand it to a co-ed meet.
“Our mission is to provide a place where professionals can come together and race against the best. We want to bring excitement to the sport!” Savulich said. “We decided to go with this format because Duel Meets are the most exciting type of meet. There is nothing better than two teams going head-to-head as opposed to 1,500 swimmers individually competing at a 5 hour meet. Our meet will feature the best and be fan friendly.”
The event schedule will include all World Championship individual events except for the 800/1500 free and the 400 IM, and each day will be capped with a sprint relay (the 200 medley on Wednesday and the 200 free on Thursday).
Prize money for each event will be as follows:
1st place – $300
2nd place – $150
3rd place – $50
Those are pretty healthy sums for a brand-new meet series in it’s pilot-edition. The enthusiasm of the Club Wolverine meet organizers, along with that prize money and the recognition for just such a series as this, has brought an impressive lineup to Ann Arbor. Below are the list of thus-far confirmed participants, though an invite has been extended to all professional swimmers.
- Davis Tarwater, USA/SwimMAC, 2005 and 2006 NCAA Champion in the 200 fly for Michigan; Finished 4th at 2005 World Championships in 200 fly
- Clark Burckle, USA/Tucson Ford Aquatics, 2010 NCAA Champion in 200 breaststroke, 2011 Pan Am Games Team member
- Darian Townsend, South Africa/Tucson Ford Aquatics, 2004 Olympic gold medalist in 400 Free Relay, Former World Record Holder 400 Free Relay
- Wu Peng, China/Club Wolverine, 2011 World Championships bronze medalist in the 200 fly
- Kevin Swander, USA/SwimMAC, 2011 USA Swimming silver medalist in the 100 breaststroke, 2009 WUG Champion in the 50 breaststroke
- Matt Patton, USA/Club Wolverine, 2007 Pan Ams Champion in 400 free, 2011 Pan Am Games Team Member
- Nick Brunelli, USA/SwimMAC, 7-time Short Course World Championships Medalist
- Barry Murphy, Ireland/Club Wolverine, Irish National Record Holder in the 100 breaststroke
- Alex Heltand, Norway/Club Wolverine, 2010 World Short Course silver medalist in 50 breaststroke, National Record Holder in 400 medley relay
- Elliott Keefer, USA/SwimMAC, Member of Team USA for 2011 World Championships
- Bobby Savulich, USA/Club Wolverine, 2011 World University Games gold medalist
- Eugene Godsoe, USA/SwimMAC, 2010 NCAA Champion in the 100 back
- Ian Hulme, Great Britain, British National Record Holder (200 free relay SC), English National Record Holder (400 free relay SC)
- Gard Kvale, Norway, Norwegian National Record Holder in 200 IM, 400 IM, 800 Free Relay
Tickets can be purchased to the meet for only 10$ per session, and interested companies can sponsor an event for $500. For more details on sponsorships, or the meet, contact Bobby Savulich at [email protected].