SwimSwam Pulse: 53% Would Prefer USA vs Australia In Future Duel In The Pool

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers which matchup they would prefer if USA Swimming were to bring back the Duel In The Pool:


Question: If the Duel In The Pool were to be revived, which matchup would you want to see?

  • USA vs Australia – 53.1%
  • USA vs World – 27.9%
  • USA vs Europe – 19.0%

USA Swimming’s Duel In The Pool launched in 2003 as a rivalry matchup between swimming powerhouses USA and Australia, with meets running biannually through 2015.

After three meets pitting the U.S. against Australia, with the Americans winning all three times, the format changed to a USA vs Europe matchup in 2009.

Just like what we saw against Australia, the Americans won four straight duals against the European all-stars, though the 2013 showcase was as close as it gets, with a mixed 200 medley relay required as a tiebreaker after the end of the meet when the two teams were tied.

The meet did not return in 2017 “due to sponsorship changes,” and has yet to resurface four years later.

Given the dominance the Americans showed in going 7-0 in the event’s history against Australia and Europe, the poll took a gauge of what fans would want to see if the Duel In The Pool were to make a comeback.

Would they want to see the rivalry with the Aussies rekindled? Do people want to stick with the U.S. vs Europe matchup, similar to what we see every two years in golf with the Ryder Cup? Or, do SwimSwam readers believe that neither of those matchups would be competitive enough, and they’d rather see the American swimmers take on an all-star team comprised of the best swimmers from anywhere but the United States.

The poll shows that more than half of voters, 53.1 percent, would prefer to see the original matchup, USA vs Australia, return, should the Duel In The Pool make a comeback.

The Australians won nine gold medals in the pool at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, just two back of the Americans, and currently have some of the biggest stars in the sport in the form of Emma McKeon, Kaylee McKeownAriarne Titmus and Kyle Chalmers, to name a few.

Adding to the potential intrigue of a USA/Australia dual is the fact that some great rivalries have developed in recent years between Titmus and Katie Ledecky, Chalmers and Caeleb Dressel, and the evolving one between McKeown and Regan Smith.

Just under 28 percent voted for the U.S. to have to take on the “World,” AKA an all-star team of the best swimmers from anywhere outside of America. It would certainly make for an intriguing match, one the Americans might even be underdogs in after going undefeated through the first seven iterations of the Duel In The Pool.

Only 19 percent want to see the USA vs Europe meet continued, which is understandable given that the final scores in 2009, 2011 and 2015 were incredibly lopsided. If it was clear the meet would be even close to as competitive as it was in 2013 it would make sense to keep the European matchup, but that does not appear to be the case.

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1 year ago

I just want to see the best vs. the best, no matter where it is.

1 year ago

I’d love to see either something similar to the old Goodwill Games team format: USA, Australia, Europe and World All Stars (Asia/South America/Africa etc); or continental teams.

1 year ago

For all the people speculating about what would be the closest battle, these would be the results based on the Olympics:

USA defeats Australia, winning 23 events to 14

USA defeats Europe, winning 22 events to 15

The Commonwealth defeats USA, winning 23 events to 14 (in fact the whole commonwealth isn’t even needed, just Australia plus UK men beats USA)

The world defeats USA, winning 28 events to 9.

Notably, the USA doesn’t win a single relay against the Commonwealth or the World.

Reply to  Sub13
1 year ago

USA won 2 relays at the Olympics????

Reply to  torchbearer
1 year ago

Yes, but presumably the World/Commonwealth team can combine countries to make an ideal relay.

Sub Ceccon into the UK Men’s medley relay and they win gold.

Sub Chalmers into the Italian 100 free relay and they win gold.

Last edited 1 year ago by Sub13
Mr Smith
Reply to  Sub13
1 year ago

Something to keep in mind is that Europeans competed under several different countries in the Olympics, while USA had all their talent in their relays. So if Europeans could’ve formed combined “EU” relay teams like they would in a duel, they likely would’ve won all the relays in Tokyo (I’m assuming, maybe I’m wrong?).

Reply to  Mr Smith
1 year ago

Does UK count for the EU? If so, I’d feel confident in projecting that Europe would win almost all relays head to head with the USA. Without doing a deep dive, the one I wouldn’t be confident about would be the women’s 400 medley relay.

Reply to  Mr Smith
1 year ago

They win all the men’s relays. Taking the best times from the top 4 European women in the W100 Free relay gives them 3:30.38, so they would still lose to the actual Australian relay but they would beat USA.

I can’t be bothered to do the maths on the other two women’s relays, but no, Europe doesn’t automatically win them all.

1 year ago

Realistically, the only notionally competitive match of the three would be USA v Rest of World …… and that would be contingent on very judicious selection of that World team and availability of peak talent.

USA v AUS women WOULD, currently, be highly competitive but with due respect to the likes of Chalmers, S-Cook; you’d be praying for an early invocation of the mercy rule on the men’s side, such would be the likely imbalance.

The reverse would be in play with USA v EUR.

USA v Commonwealth, on paper at least, would be an interesting proposition albeit it being contingent on peak talent being available and smart selections. If anything; the balance would tilt Comm on the women’s… Read more »

Reply to  commonwombat
1 year ago

How would USA vs World be competitive? What metric are you using?

USA won 11 of 37 events at the Olympics. It’s likely they lose both of the relays they won if the World team is allowed to make a relay team made up of multiple countries, giving them 9 wins out of 37. That’s less competitive that any other combination that’s been discussed.

Reply to  Sub13
1 year ago

I’m not just using Tokyo as the sole defining factor. I’m also taking into account the past Olympic cycle plus the potential impacts of some key talent (from anywhere) either retiring or entering the region of “diminishing returns”.

Not every relay is necessarily a “slam dunk”. I would still see USA as being “in the picture” in all bar W4X100/M4X200.

Tokyo had more “air swings” by USA than normal. I certainly grant that there are some clear gaps and not all of them can/will be fixed in the short term. However, its dangerous to bank on this historically low “strike rate” becoming the norm. Hence, I’m still extending them due respect. Not saying they’d necessarily win such notional matches… Read more »

Big T
Reply to  commonwombat
1 year ago

World team of Rylov, Peaty, Milak and Chalmers beats USA in medley relay

1 year ago

Santo Condorelli Homelands vs. The World

1 year ago

mens side wouldnt be very exciting. usa claps every country that gender

katie’s gator arc
1 year ago

no bc a vs world would be more interesting and give spotlights to countries that aren’t exactly swim powerhouses

1 year ago

What about a US vs AUS v EUR………3 teams? Actually think that would be fun!

Drama King
Reply to  Torchbearer
1 year ago

v Asia

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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