Reviewing The Most Notable Swims From Day Two Of Duel In The Pool


  • 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
  • Full US roster
  • Full Australian roster

In the Duel In The Pool competition, we get to see some of the best swimmers from the United States and Australia come together to swim both traditional and unconventional events. On the second day of racing, we were able to see both fast times from the typical events raced at big meets, as well as wild, wacky finishes from events that aren’t usually raced at competitions. Because of this, we decided to highlight some standout performances from today, as well as races that we found interesting due to their unique nature.

NOTE: All times recorded from Duel In The Pool are unofficial.

The Best Performances

Mollie O’Callaghan

O’Callaghan took on a tough quadruple session today, first swimming in the mixed 4×100 medley relay, then the 100 back, then the women’s 4×100 medley relay, and finally closing things off with a 4×50 mixed “mystery” relay that ended up being a medley relay. And yet, she managed to pull off impressive times in all of her events.

First, O’Callaghan anchored Australia’s mixed 4×100 medley relay in a time of 52.43, overtaking Mallory Comerford on the home stretch to help her country secure their first win of the night. She then went on to anchor the women’s medley relay, which also resulted in an Aussie victory.

In her only individual race, the women’s 100 back, O’Callaghan finished second to Kaylee McKeown in a time of 59.25. That mark is just 0.11 seconds slower than her season-best of 59.12, which was swam at this year’s Australian trials. We haven’t seen O’Callaghan race this event very often this year, as she dropped it at both the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships. However, the fact that she nearly matched her season-best even after swimming two relays beforehand makes us wonder how fast she could go this year in a 100 back fully rested.

To finish today’s session, O’Callaghan led off Australia’s mixed 4×50 medley relay in an (approximate) time of 27.5, just slightly slower than the 27.47 she put up to take silver at the Commonwealth Games. One may argue that she was only this fast because she was swimming in Justin Ress‘s wash, but it’s still an impressive time nonetheless.

The 4×100 Mixed Medley Relay

With this race being the first one of the day, swimmers likely came in fresh without any fatigue, which should explain why some of the fastest times of the night were put up in the 4×100 mixed medley relay.

Justin Ress opened up with a 52.97 on back to give the United States a considerable lead, but Bradley Woodward had a strong swim of his own. He led off with a time of 53.87, which was faster than the 54.06 he clocked to take bronze at the Commonwealth Games. In addition, he also beat out Isaac Cooper‘s 54.29 leadoff time from the men’s medley relay at the World Championships, which should make him a formidable option for the Australian backstroke leg in the future.

The breaststroke leg was led by Michael Andrew, who extended America’s lead and split 58.59 compared to Zac Stubblety-Cook‘s 59.75. Andrew’s split was a good bounce-back for him, considering some of the pitfalls he’s had in the 100 breast this year such as missing finals of the event at both World Championships and U.S. Nationals.

Then, the women dove in on fly, with Gabi Albiero holding on to America’s lead while Emma McKeon came back on her. Albiero split 57.58 while McKeon split 56.24, both strong times relative to what they usually go. To play the comparison game again, McKeon’s split was faster than the 56.59 she split on Australia’s women’s medley relay at the Commonwealth Games.

Finally, Mollie O’Callaghan anchored in 52.49 to help Australia overtake the Americans, whereas Mallory Comerford went 53.68. Comerford’s split was nearly two-tenths faster than her time swam in the prelims of the women’s 4×100 free relay, which was a 53.86.

So what’s the final verdict from seeing some of these relay times? The answer is that sometimes, athletes don’t need to be fully tapered and rested in order to swim fast. In fact, low-pressure meets like this where the times don’t count can even give swimmers the confidence to perform at their best, given that they don’t have to carry the weight and expectation of a major international meet on their shoulders.

Shaine Casas‘ 100 fly

Today was just another episode of Shaine Casas showing off his butterfly capabilities, as he won the men’s 100 fly with a 50.86. That’s his third time going 50-point in the event this year, following his 50.56 from Austin Sectionals and his 50.40 from U.S. Nationals. His race today only shows that he’s capable of being consistently good in the 100 fly—now all he has to do is make the World Championship team in the event next year and he will fully establish himself as an international butterfly force.

Bella Sims‘ 200 free

Another athlete who had to swim multiple tough events in one session was Bella Sims. She first competed in the broken 400 free, where she gave Team USA points by wining the 200-meter portion of the race. Moments later, she was back in the pool swimming the 200 free, where she won in a time of 1:57.75. That’s just 0.22 seconds slower than her best time of 1:57.53, which was clocked at last year’s Olympic trials—a meet that required much more preparation and rest than Duel in the Pool.

Like O’Callaghan and the 100 back, Sims’ capability of going a near-best time in the 200 free at a meet like this, following a broken 400 free, only leaves us speculating what her true potential is in the event. This race, plus her 1:54.60 split from the 4×200 free relay at World Championships, only adds to her case of possibly being the one to take an individual spot in the 200 free at next years’s World Championships.

Kaylee McKeown‘s 100 back

Kaylee McKeown has swum the 100 back so many times this year to the point where we’ve almost lost count of the times she’s gone in the event. That being said, her 58.74 in the women’s 100 back was a very strong swim given the circumstances.

Overall, McKeown’s 100 back has been relatively “off” this year, considering that she set her season-best time of 58.31 back in February and has not touched that mark since. However, going 58.74, a time that was 0.14 seconds off her Commonwealth Games winning time of 58.60, after a long season of major international meets just shows her ability to maintain consistency and stay in shape even after constant racing. Although she isn’t as fast as she was last year, McKeown’s performance today indicates that she’s not going anywhere, and will remain as one of the world’s top backstrokers.

The Most “Fun” Races 

Grant House and Ryan Held: “Photo Finish”

In both of the mens’ skins event held today, the two swimmers left in the final round were Americans, so they ended up cruising the final lap in order to conserve energy for the rest of the meet. But when Grant House and Ryan Held were the last two left in the men’s 50 free, they touched the way at almost the exact same time despite the fact that neither of them were giving maximum effort. Held barely won the skins race in a time of 29.91, although House was extremely close, clocking a 29.92 behind. This race was extremely entertaining to watch, because even though the two swimmers were not trying at all, the race still somehow ended up being really tight.

The Para Events

For the first time in the competition’s history, para swimmers were included on both the American and Australian teams. Doing this ended up giving us some of the most diverse races of the meet, where we got to see swimmers of different countries, gender, and disability classes all racing in the same pool—something that you likely won’t ever get to witness in a regular competition.

Instead of a typical para competition, where swimmers are separated by class and gender, all of the para events at Duel In the Pool were mixed and multi-class. In order to prevent swimmers of certain classes from gaining an unfair advantage, staggered starts were implemented, where different swimmers entered the pool at different times to even out the playing field. Not only does this rule make the competition more fair, but it also gives organizers an easy way to incorporate para swimming into more competitions and bring more exposure to the sport,

A standout para swimmer today was Mackenzie Coan, who won the mixed multi-class 100 free and reached the final round of the mixed multi-class 3×50 f0rm-stroke skins event.

The “Double Dip” Skins Races

There was a strategy overload in the women’s skins race, which started when Emma McKeon slowed down substantially against Beata Nelson in the third round of the 50 fly skins. But just when we thought Nelson had won, the Aussies implemented a “double dip”, which added an extra round of skins. Then, McKeon roared past Nelson in the fourth round to give Australia victory.

However, America came back with revenge in the 50 breast skins, when Kaitlyn Dobler went out extremely fast in round three to prompt Chelsea Hodges into charging in front of her. However, America pulled out the “double dip” and Dobler won the fourth round.

The ‘double dip” skins rules was one of the biggest showcases of strategy in the entire competition, and goes to show just how important timing is.

The Mystery 200 IM

We are so used to see a traditional IM race with a fly-back-breast-free order, and our idea of who the best IMers in the world are based on who swims the four strokes in that specific order the fastest. However, what if the stroke order was changed minutes before your race started? That’s exactly what happened in the men’s mystery 200 IM, where each individual swimmer got assigned a different stroke order that was nothing like the traditional fly-back-breast-free sequence that we are all used to seeing.

Having started with fly, free, and back, the three fastest strokes, Australia’s Se-Bom Lee had an early lead. However, he had to finish his race off swimming breaststroke, which allowed for Trenton Julian and Chase Kalisz (who ended up finishing 1-2) to overtake him on the home stretch. In fact, Julian and Kalisz both ended with their strongest stroke on the final 50, as Julian swam fly and Kalisz swam breast.

This race just goes to show how different things could potentially be if the IM order was changed. In fact, a perfect “what if” example was Shaine Casas, who is one of the best 200 IMers in the world but ended up finishing last with a free-fly-breast-back order (however, we need to keep in mind that he was just coming off two rounds of 50 back skins races beforehand). If we stopped swimming the IM events the way that we do now, would we see the history books get changed completely?

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3 months ago

Agree it was certainly interesting viewing. Loved seeing how relaxed but fiercely competitive the athletes were. We don’t get a lot of US athlete interviews broadcast on Aussie soil and I really rate their attitudes and enthusiasm to represent their country from what I saw last night. 👏👏👏 Very entertained overall, with some really good quality swims.

Highlight for me was seeing Will Martin roar home for the win in Multi-class 50 form stroke skins from an 11sec deficit start. All heart from a hugely talented guy.

Shaine Casas in all his races (he was in plenty and will need a good nap) was very impressive also.

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming through scoring countless dual meets, being a timer, and keeping track of her teammates' best times for three years as a team manager. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in …

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