Para Swimmers Added to Duel in the Pool
by Ryan Wilson
USA Swimming has announced that Para swimmers will be competing in the Duel in the Pool for the first time.
“We are incredibly excited for this announcement to combine the Olympic and Paralympic side of sport with both of our powerhouse nations,” U.S. Paralympics Swimming Director Erin Popovich said.
This revised Duel in the Pool will take place August 19-21 at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre. Each country will bring a roster of 30 swimmers to the meet, and they’ll now be able to choose Olympic, Paralympic or national team swimmers to compete.
“The world’s best thrive when competing against one another, and our teams have established an exciting history of record-setting competition and thrilling rivalries, which will no doubt be showcased in Sydney,” USA Swimming President and CEO Tim Hinchey III said.
Lindsay Mintenko, the managing director of USA’s Swimming national team, said the competing athletes have not yet been selected, but they have been planning to add Paralympic swimmers to the program for months.
“(It has) been in the works for quite some time,” Mintenko said. “We were thrilled to have a duel put on the calendar.”
The Duel in the Pool began in 2003 and took place in every odd year up until 2015. The United States competed against Australia in the first three editions, then the U.S. began to take on Europe in 2009. The United States has won all seven Duel in the Pool meets.
Popovich said she believes the addition of Para swimming will have ripple effects elsewhere.
“I think this will be a great opportunity to show that we can do it, and I think other countries and nations will be knocking on our doors to get in on all of the exciting action,” she said.
Eugénie Buckley, the Swimming Australia CEO, is excited to bring back the Duel in the Pool to reignite the rivalry between the U.S. and Australia in the pool.
“Reigniting the Duel in the Pool will enable us to showcase the best athletes in the world through a format that will bring fans closer to the action and engage the viewing audience like never before, all while adding to the great legacy between our two countries in the pool,” Buckley added.
This year’s Duel in the Pool will bring together two of the top swimming nations in the world. Australia and the U.S. combined for 46 percent of the total medals at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and each country collected more than 30 swimming medals at last year’s Paralympics.
“We are super excited,” Popovich said. “We are looking forward to an exciting head-to-head competition in August.”
Ryan Wilson is a freelance contributor to USParaSwimming.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.