GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — In the tightest finish yet, the United States preserved its 100 percent winning Duel in the Pool record on Saturday by beating the European All Stars in a tiebreaker race.
Both teams were locked on 131 points after 30 events over two days at the Tollcross Swimming Centre in Glasgow, after the U.S fought back from 68-54 down on Friday. In the extra, final race — a mixed 4x50-meter medley relay — Simone Manuel anchored the U.S. to victory, finishing 0.2 seconds ahead of British swimmer Francesca Halsall.
The U.S. has won all six Duels in the Pool — billed as the Ryder Cup of swimming — facing Australia in the first three editions before taking on the Europeans. The tight finish was in contrast to the first U.S.-Europe encounter in Manchester in 2009 when the Americans claimed a 185-78 victory.
Saturday didn't start well, though, for the defending champions as the Europeans took maximum points from the first race. Mireia Belmonte of Spain, who won the 400 individual medley and the 400 freestyle on Friday, came out on top in the 800 freestyle, leading home Lotte Friis of Denmark and Jazz Carlin of Wales.
Five points are awarded for a win, three for second place, and one for third. But Michael McBroom set the tone for the U.S. recovery in the 800 free, breaking the national record in 7 minutes 33.99 seconds.
Michelle Coleman took top spot in the women's 200 freestyle but there was another American success for the men, with Conor Dwyer securing the win. The U.S. fightback continued, with Olivia Smoliga and Eugene Godsoe both winning their respective 100 backstroke events.
Europe still held onto a 92-84 lead after the opening six events. But U.S. successes followed in the 100 breaststroke, through Jessica Hardy and Kevin Cordes, to leave the teams locked at 97 points each.
Belmonte, though, was proving to be one of the outstanding talents of this event. And another win — this time in the 200 butterfly — allowed the Europeans to edge ahead again. But the competition remained on a knife edge as American simmer Tom Shields won the men's race.
A European win followed in the 50 freestyle courtesy of Halsall, but the Americans helped themselves to maximum points in the men's event led by Jimmy Feigen. Wins for Sophie Allen and Dwyer in their 200 individual medley races again saw Europe and the U.S. level on 124 points heading into the final 4x100 freestyle relays.
A world record in the women's race was set by Europe with a time of 3:27.70 before the U.S. men responded with a victory. It took one final, extra victory to allow the U.S. to retain the trophy in dramatic fashion.