GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — In the tightest finish yet, the United States preserved its perfect 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 after the U.S fought back from 68-54 down on Friday. In the extra final race — a 200-meter mixed medley relay — Simone Manuel anchored the U.S. to victory, finishing 0.2 seconds ahead of British swimmer Francesca Halsall.
Eugene Godsoe, Kevin Cordes and Claire Donahue joined Manuel to finish in a short-course world record time of 1 minute, 31.17 seconds. The Europeans were timed in 1:31.37. "I knew that with the team behind my back, as excited and as close as we were, the adrenaline could carry me," Manuel said.
The U.S. has won all six Duels in the Pool, facing Australia in the first three before taking on the Europeans. "That was the most exciting meet I've been a part of," American Conor Dwyer said. "I think it's a unique event. It's unlike anything else we do internationally. We take a lot of pride. It's all about getting your hand on the wall and not the times."
The tight finish was in contrast to the first U.S.-Europe encounter in Manchester in 2009 when the Americans won 185-78. Saturday didn't start well 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 free, 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 7:33.99. Michelle Coleman took top spot in the women's 200 freestyle but there was another American success for the men, with Dwyer securing the 200 men's win. He also won the 200 IM.
The U.S. rally continued when Olivia Smoliga and Godsoe both won their 100 backstroke events. Europe still held a 92-84 lead after the opening six events. But U.S. successes followed in the 100 breaststroke, with Jessica Hardy and 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 swimmer 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 IM races again saw the teams tied at 124 points heading into the final 400 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 keep the trophy.