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Relay Tie-Breaker Caps Amazing Comeback in Glasgow

12/21/2013

In one of the most exciting finishes international swimming has ever seen, Team USA capped a 23-point comeback Saturday with a victory in the tie-breaking 200m mixed medley relay to claim the Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool title over the European All-Stars, 132-131, at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre.

NBC will air national television coverage of this remarkable come-from-behind win for the Americans on Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

With the score knotted at 131 after 30 scheduled events, the meet went to a winner-take-all, one-point tiebreaker – a 200m mixed medley relay featuring two men and two women.

The U.S. squad of Eugene Godsoe (Greensboro, N.C.), Kevin Cordes (Naperville, Ill.), Claire Donahue (Lenoir City, Tenn.) and Simone Manuel (Sugar Land, Texas) delivered a short-course, world-record swim of 1:31.17 to edge the European All-Stars (1:31.37) by two-tenths of a second. The final score marked the first time Team USA led the meet over two days of thrilling competition.   

“I knew that with the team behind my back, as excited and as close as we were, the adrenaline could carry me,” said Manuel, who held off women’s 50m free winner Francesca Halsall of Great Britain to secure the win.

The one-point victory improved Team USA’s record to 6-0 in the Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool, which debuted in 2003. Complete results are available online.

In addition to the remarkable finish, the U.S. performances Saturday were highlighted by a trio of American records in individual events. Michael McBroom (The Woodlands, Texas) was victorious in the 800m free in a record-setting swim of 7:33.99, Tom Shields (Huntington Beach, Calif.) eclipsed his own 200m fly mark with a time of 1:50.61 and Cordes picked up his second individual American record of the meet with a time of 56.88 in the 100m breast.  

Conor Dwyer (Winnetka, Ill.) also fueled the Team USA comeback with two big wins on the night, taking the 200m free in 1:41.68 and the 200m IM in 1:53.51. He was victorious in the 400m IM on Friday and posted four podium finishes for the meet.

“That was the most exciting meet I’ve been a part of,” 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.”

After finding itself down by 23 points after three events Saturday, Team USA slowly chipped away at the European All-Stars’ lead before pulling even at 97 apiece following Cordes’ win in the 100m breast. Europe quickly answered over the next three events to regain a nine-point lead at 115-106, before the Americans pulled off a key sweep in the men’s 50m free to tie the score again.

Jimmy Feigen (San Antonio, Texas) won in a personal-best of 21.20, and men’s captains Anthony Ervin (Valencia, Calif.) and Cullen Jones (Irvington, N.J.) tied for second at 21.27 to give the Americans a much-needed nine points.

After Europe regained a three-point lead following the women’s 200m IM, Dwyer and Chase Kalisz (Bel Air, Md.) finished first and third, respectively, in the men’s 200m IM with times of 1:53.51 and 1:54.26 to tie the score at 124 heading to the relays.

The European All-Stars took the women’s 400m free relay with a time of 3:27.70 to 3:28.96 for Team USA to set up a must-win relay for the American men.

The U.S. squad of Feigen, Ervin, Shields and Jones carried the momentum from their earlier swims onto the relay, and Jones pulled away on the anchor to finish in 3:06.66 and send the meet to the decisive tie-breaking mixed medley relay.

After leading by 14 points following Friday’s session, the Europeans opened Saturday’s swims by extending their lead to 77-54 with a sweep of the women’s 800m free. Mireia Belmonte of Spain was first in 8:07.90, followed by Denmark’s Lotte Friis in 8:10.40 and Great Britain’s Jazmin Carlin in 8:12.01.

McBroom followed with a convincing win the men’s 800m free, touching nearly six seconds clear of the field in American-record fashion. Pal Joensen of the Faroe Islands was second in 7:39.69, and Michael Klueh (Evansville, Ind.) overtook Yannick Agnel over the final 50 meters to grab third in 7:41.96.

Katie Ledecky (Bethesda, Md.) continued a strong run for the Americans with a runner-up finish in the women’s 200m free in 1:53.83. Michelle Coleman of Sweden was victorious in 1:53.63, while Spain’s Melania Costa touched third in 1:53.96.

Dwyer and Tyler Clary (Riverside, Calif.) posted a big one-two finish for the U.S. in the men’s 200m free to cut the deficit to 87-71. Dwyer led from the start and took the win in convincing fashion, while Clary touched in 1:43.84 for second. Great Britain’s Robbie Renwick was third in 1:44.44.

The U.S. continued to close the gap with Olivia Smoliga’s (Glenview, Ill.) victory in the 100m back in 57.06. The European All-Stars finished two-three, as Simona Baumrtova of the Czech Republic was second in 57.11 and Daryna Zevina of the Ukraine finished third in 57.16.

One-two finishes from Godsoe and Shields in the men’s 100m back, and Jessica Hardy (Long Beach, Calif.) and Micah Lawrence (Pflugerville, Texas) in the women’s 100m breast pulled the Americans within a single point at 93-92.

In the men’s 100m back, Godsoe won in 50.08, Shields was second in 50.18 and Great Britain’s Christopher Walker-Hebborn took third in 50.55. In the women’s 100m breast, Hardy took the win in 1:04.65, Lawrence was second in 1:05.27 and Great Britain’s Sophie Allen was third in 1:05.39.

Cordes tied the score at 97 thanks to his American record win in the men’s 100m breast. Germany’s Marco Koch was second in 57.05, and Slovenia’s Damir Dugonjic was third in 57.08.

The women’s 200m fly went to Belmonte in 2:03.31, with Cammile Adams (Cypress, Texas) taking second in 2:04.61. Franziska Hentke was third in 2:05.83.

Following Shields’ American record swim in the 200m fly were Velimir Stjepanovic of Serbia, who was second in 1:52.06, and Great Britain’s Roberto Pavoni, who grabbed third in 1:52.87.

Halsall took the women’s 50m free in 23.93, followed by Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen-Gray, who was second in 24.02, and Manuel, who finished third in 24.40.

In the final women’s individual event of the afternoon, Allen took the 200m IM in 2:05.90, with Caitlin Leverenz (Tucson, Ariz.) finishing second in 2:06.77 and Great Britain’s Hannah Miley taking third in 2:08.55.

The Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool is a made-for-television event, designed to showcase the sport’s most exciting swimmers in a short-course meters format. This year’s event marked the sixth Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool in the history of USA Swimming, with past Duels held in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011.