Team USA has dominated the Duel in the Pool since the conception of the contest, originally against the Australians before becoming a contest between team USA and the European All-Stars. In 2013, however, without US swimmings stars Missy Franklin (nor any other current Cal swimmers) nor Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin, nor Ryan Lochte, could this be the year when team USA loses its tight grip on being the best swimming TEAM in the world? Team Europe also has the home pool advantage with the Duel taking place in Glasgow, Scotland.
Since it is a swimming event, Cal is very well represented with members on both side of the competition. From the team USA side, we have the following group:
Forgot to post the pic: Cal swimming alums in Scotland for the Duel in the Pool.#GoBears @Tom__Shields @AnthonyErvin pic.twitter.com/yrTg7bjtlI— Caitlin Leverenz (@cleverenz) December 20, 2013
Two recent Cal swimming alum in Caitlin Leverenz and Tom Shields (although it is clear form his Twitter account that he is still taking classes, with a Religious Studies paper due right before flying out to Scotland for this meet) are joined on Team USA with Anthony Ervin and Jessica Hardy (not pictured). Leverenz, Hardy, and Ervin are 3 of the 4 Team USA captains along with Cullen Jones (who swam for NC State, by the way).
On the European side, Calympian Damir "Dugi" Dugonjic, from Slovenia, is representing the European All-Stars. Dugi is coming off a great European Championships showing earlier in the month where he won 50 Breast (along with a bronze in 100 Breast).
@iamdugi- Fastest man in Europe - Gold & Bronze! Congrats big guy. @calmenswim @BridgeAthletic @head_swimming_d pic.twitter.com/6fjrCHwSGO— Nick Folker (@trainfasst) December 14, 2013
Some friendly words were exchanged before the start of this race, including some by Jessica Hardy (1:17 mark).
You can find the full results with the times here.
In day 1 of the two day action, the European All-Stars jumped out to a decent lead. With only the top 3 finishers scoring points for his/her team, Caitlin Leverenz finished 3rd in W. 400 IM. Anthony Ervin finished 3rd in M. 100 Free. Tom Shields had a dominant win in M. 100 Fly. Shields was also a part of the US winning relay team in M. 4x100 medley. Other events involving Golden Bears were 200 Breast (Leverenz),
In day 2 of action, Shields finished 2nd in M. 100 Back (got edged by US teammate but 'Furd alum in Eugene Godsoe). Making her season debut season the World Championship, Jessica Hardy won W. 100 Breast. Dugonjic finished 3rd in M. 100 Breast to score points for the European team. Shields then broke his own American record in M. 200 Fly by winning that event. Here is Tom talking about his achievements:
Knotting things up in the duel was a 1-2-3 finish by team USA in the M. 100 Free, where Ervin finished tied for 2nd. Leverenz then got key points for team USA by finishing 2nd in the W. 200 IM.
Then with team Europe ahead by the same amount of points as the difference in the last regularly schedule race. The favorite team USA would need to win the Men's 400 Free relay. Here is a video of the Men's 400 Free relay (with Anthony Ervin and Tom Shields in leg 2 and 3):
What this meant was that we're heading to a tie-breaker! The tie-breaker was a mixed 200 medley relay. The only Cal alum that swam in this exciting final race was Dugonjic in the Breast leg for the European All-Stars.
Here is the exciting Duel tie-Breaker, the Mixed 200 Medley Relay (if you watch any videos in this post, watch this one for the excitement):
U! S! A! U! S! A! What a finish to this exciting duel (I'm kind of regretting how I missed out on watching this thing live...there were online streams of the events live since it was broadcasted live in Europe rather than tape-delayed in the US).
Men's captains Calympian Anthony Ervin and USA all-star Cullen Jones talked about the Duel and the Men's 400 Free Relay, won by a USA team consisting of Cal alumni Tom Shields and Anthony Ervin with Cullen Jones and Jimmy Feigen that forced the tiebreaker.
On Anthony Ervin, here is a oldish video about him and the story behind his tattoos (first 30 seconds of the video is an ad). Ervin has a very interesting story of being an Olympian early, retiring from swimming early, auctioning off his Olympic Gold medal to raise money to the Asia tsunami victims, then returning to becoming a Olympian again at age 30.
Back to the Duel:
2013 #MutualDuel champions! Catch one of the most thrilling finishes you'll ever see Sunday on NBC from 4-6 PM! pic.twitter.com/EbsSClfTsy— USA Swimming (@USA_Swimming) December 21, 2013
Although some of the biggest swimming stars, mainly Missy Franklin and Nathan Adrian even though team USA did have an under the weather Katie Ledecky on their squad, didn't compete in this one, this close and exciting result should ultimately be great for swimming.
It is also always great to see the former Cal swimmers excelling on an international stage post-Cal.
Til the next time, GO BEARS!
- Cal Defensive Back Kam Jackson To Declare for NFL Draft
- Golden Nuggets: Tom Holmoe rejoices as he is no longer responsible for Cal's worst season
- Cal football recruiting: Ryan Gorcey talks areas of need, Pac-12 competition
- This week in the Pac-12: Big wins for Stanford, Oregon
- Creighton 68, Cal 54: Battered Bears fall to Jays
- Pretty much as expected, Cal 47, No.1 UConn 80