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Duel in the Pool

The Duel in the Pool is a swimming event that began in 2003. The event, which pits swimming stars from the United States against Australia, started as an idea by USA Swimming to keep the developing rivalry between the two countries going, and to see which of the two teams is better. It is currently sponsored by Mutual of Omaha in the USA and Fujitsu in Australia.

The first two Duels in the Pool were held in the USA. The first-ever was held in Indianapolis, Indiana, while the 2005 event was hosted in Irvine, California.

There was rumored to be a Duel in 2006, which was said to pit the U.S. against a team from China, after an earlier report stated that the event would pit the U.S. against a team of European swimmers, like golf's Ryder Cup. This did not occur.

The 2007 Duel in the Pool between the U.S and Australia took place in Sydney, Australia on April 3, 2007. The United States won their third straight Duel in the Pool, despite the event being held in Australia.


The Duel in the Pool is made up of 28 total events — four relays and 24 individual races — all held in an Olympic-size pool.

All rules regarding relays and individual races are applied at this event like they are in the Olympic Games and the FINA World Championships.

Points system

Each race awards points based on finishing position. In the relays, all winning teams receive 7 points, while the losing teams receive no points. Individual races are set up differently, however, as 11 total points are up for grab in each race. That system is set up like this:

  • First place: 5 points
  • Second place: 3 points
  • Third place: 2 points
  • Fourth place: 1 point
  • Fifth and sixth place: No points awarded

The total number of points given in the event is 292. The first team to reach 146.5 points, or the team with the most points at the end of the event, is declared the winner. In the event of a tie, the tie will be broken with a 4x50-meter coed medley relay. The winner of this event gains one point, and both teams must select two men and two women to race. In the two editions of the event so far, this event has not needed use.

Event history

Event Location Winner Runner-Up Final score
2003 Indianapolis, Indiana, USA 196 - 74
2005 Irvine, California, USA 190 - 102
2007 Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 181.5 - 129.5
2009 Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
2011 San Francisco, California, USA
2013 Denver, Colorado, USA
2015 Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Event trivia

  • The event winner receives a traveling trophy, and swimmers who break a world record in the event earn a $25,000 bonus.
  • Only two world records have been broken in the event to date — Michael Phelps, 17 at the time, broke his own world record in the 400-meter individual medley at the inaugural event in 2003 and Libby Lenton of Australia became the first woman to break 53 seconds in the 100 metre freestyle in 2007.
  • NBC is the exclusive event broadcaster in the U.S., but they opt to show the event on tape delay by airing it on a weekend with event coverage split into two days.
  • In 2007 Australian swimming star Libby Lenton became the first woman to beat the 53 second mark in the 100 metre freestyle, beating the previous world record by 0.31 seconds with a time of 52.99. At the time she was racing against American Michael Phelps, who clocked in at 48.72 seconds. However, due to the nature of the relay in question not being an official event, her time will not be recognized as a world record.


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