SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia and the United States will revive the bilateral Duel in the Pool contest after a gap of 15 years in Sydney in August, Swimming Australia announced on Wednesday.
The rivalry between the swimming powerhouses was revived at the Tokyo Olympics last year, where a resurgent Australia ran the United States close in the final medal tally.
The three-day event at Sydney’s Olympic Park from Aug. 19-21 will bring together 30 Olympic, Paralympic and national team swimmers from both countries, while an open water event will be held at Bondi Beach.
Australian swimming fans will be hoping for a re-match between Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky after their epic confrontation in the 400 metres freestyle in Tokyo.
Titmus edged that race in dramatic fashion to claim one of nine gold medals Australia won in Tokyo, only two behind the American haul of 11.
The third and last “Duel in the Pool” between the United States and Australia was contested in Sydney 2007, although the Americans later took on a team from Europe in four further editions.
The original idea aimed to cash in on the rivalry between the countries at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where Australia famously handed the United States men’s team their first defeat in the 4x100m relay at a Summer Games.
“Whether it’s the 4x100m relay in Sydney, or the women’s 400m freestyle from Tokyo, both our past and present are dominated by contests between our two great swimming nations,” Swimming Australia chief executive Eugenie Buckley said at the launch in Bondi.
“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.”
USA Swimming chief Tim Hinchey III said the event promised to be a world class meet.
“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,” he said in a statement.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, Editing by Peter Rutherford)