Get The War Paint On: Speedo USA Vs Europe Duel Is Nigh

Kromowidjojo and Clary are back but the stars of 2013 are not the stars of 2015 as the Duel still misses a beat on the trail of what could be

Fred Vergnoux, coach to Mireia Belmonte, with four solo golds the outstanding swimmer of the European Short-Course Championships that ended in Herning yesterday, has called for Speedo Duel in the Pool participation by Europeans to be compulsory in an effort to help swimming’s Ryder Cup reach its potential. The USA has never lost a Duel, neither against Australia nor in its latest manifestation, against European All-Stars. This Friday and Saturday in Glasgow, the challenge promises to be closer than ever

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Fred Vergnoux, coach to Mireia Belmonte, with four solo golds the outstanding swimmer of the European Short-Course Championships that ended in Herning yesterday, has called for Speedo Duel in the Pool participation by Europeans to be compulsory in an effort to help swimming’s Ryder Cup reach its potential. The USA has never lost a Duel, neither against Australia nor in its latest manifestation, against European All-Stars. This Friday and Saturday in Glasgow, the challenge promises to be closer than ever


Jon Rudd

Ruta would have raced this if it did not clash with the LTU National SC which she has to race in a federation/athlete agreement. A pity but such is the calendar!

Craig Lord

Thanks for that info Jon

Andrei Vorontsov

Swedish team of 4 for Salnikov’a Cup. Sara Sjostrem, Simon Sjodin, Mattias Carlsson, Eric Persson


It is a bit of a shame how many big names are missing from both sides. I’m surprised Coughlin didn’t make it for the US. Lots of relatively untested talent for the US here. The US men look tougher than the women, Shields and Godsoe are both absolute monsters in short course.


It’s not a great date for the US college kids because it got shoehorned into a very narrow gap after most schools’ first semester exams, so you’re looking at flying out right from school, getting only about three days with family for Christmas proper and then heading off to a warm weather training camp on about the 26th for a week or two until the new semester starts. Glad they got as many 18-22 years olds as they did for the meet.


I think it’s bad for the meet that so many people aren’t doing it. If this meet is going to mean something 10, 20 years down the line then people have to take it seriously.

The problem is every time someone scratches or can’t swim it’s a little blow to the legitimacy of the meet. How can this be a Ryder-Cup showdown if it’s the American B-team vs the European B-team. This meet is supposed to “settle” something and see who’s a stronger swimming force. If all the best people don’t show up it settles nothing and makes the meet a joke, which encourages people not to compete and so on until the meet becomes totally unimportant or is ended.


Actually sadly there will be no Rikke MP on breaststroke either Craig, in her case I believe this is down to university exams rather than the lure of Salnikov’s cash. Breaststroke is going to be a walkover for the US 🙁

I would love to see this event with top lineups on both sides, but when swimming is a short career with few economic opportunities for the majority, not sure Vergnoux can really blame some of them for looking for a Christmas bonus. Perhaps some World Cup style cash prizes would help?

Craig Lord

McGillrocks… just so.

Craig Lord

Thanks for that Danishswimfan.., what a pity


To put it nicely, a little bit coordination in arranging major swimming meets is needed if Salnikova Cup and the Duel is held at the same time. The swimming world must make the most efficient use of the every chance available for promoting this sport and this is not it. We need this sort of meets to fight against the fading-away effect in between the championships, but not on top of the other.

However, I don’t blame swimmers for picking a more financially rewarding meet if such is on offer. Being an elite swimmer has its costs and l understand if one wants to collect some prize money to help cover those costs.

Anyway, once again for the record, this is unacceptable that we have two major meets of this kind, competing for the attention of same swimmers.

Not necessarily so.

SwimFinland – S/ C is not going to help. It used to be l/c & had a few world recs eg breaking MaryT’s 200 fly ( Jess Schipper) . However she did not even win the swimmer of the meet award for that which went instead to an American girl with an American record .

So the thing has been complete bullshit for some time .

Craig Lord

Mary T’s record went to Susie O’Neill (and not at a duel)


After checking the money on offer at Salnikova Cup, I think the total amount of prize money is about the same at both meets, in St.Petersburg and Glasgow. I’m not sure whether Vregnoux’s statement is correct that it’s due to money why some swimmers opted for Russia instead of UK. Some Europeans even face tougher competition at Salnikov Cup than they would do at the Duel, e.g. Guyrta. Guyrta may have headed for Russia because there is already fine breastrokers representing Europe at the Duel on the men’s side. Same goes for Sjöström who may have thought that Ottesen can take care of the sprint butterfly while Ranomi can handle the sprint freestyle events. I think this may well be true as, of the Swedes, Michelle Coleman seems to be going alone to the Duel.

Anyway, this whole situation is very unsatisfying.


Unfortunately, the Cal Berkeley group have their exams 12/16-20. This eliminates Rachel Bootsma, Liz Pelton and Missy Franklin. Perhaps after Christmas would be better scheduling? It is an exciting competition and brings much attention to swimming.

Craig Lord

Yes, never easy on dates on such a cluttered calendar but it would be good if those running things made a serious effort to plan for the best-possible for a meet with great potential (and one that will be terrific, even so)

Not necessarily so.

My bad – ’twas Pan Pacs in Canada which explains the weird.

There used to be a World Cup in athletics that was continent based. I saw one of the great w 400 mts ever which inspired Florence Joyner – Jackson to turn up maxxed out on god only knows what 2 years later. Those were the days my friend .

For entertainment I think it should be The US vs The EU . Imagine the new rules!

Andrei Vorontsov

1. Best European swimmers already did their best shots at the European Short Course and now many of them want to relax and have a fun before Christmas and New Year.
2. What’s a point to compete against not the very best american swimmers – to give chance to younger americans to sharp their teeth on eurostars? To blow up american bubble of self-confidence even bigger? Where are Lochte, Missie F,, Grevers & some others? Ask americans…
3. Americans, you want to compete – please, come and compete the rest of the World at the World Cup events! No, you want to compete with us in time, when it suits to you and on your own conditions.
4. If you call the Duel “a swimming Ryder Cup” – make good rewards to swimmers, work harder with sponsors to collect decent money. Salnikov works very hard with sponsors to collect money and pays to stars for appearance – like in any invitational event in track-and-field, tennis, golf and many other sports. 2000-3000 euros in St.-Petersburg for appearance only. Let’s make our sport more professional – let’s work together more professionally (not coaches and swimmers – they do their utmost, but organizers and swimming burocrats).
Now it’s business of US Swimming and British Swimming only, not transparent to other parties.
With my best wishes of Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all swimming fans!

Craig Lord

Thank you Andrei for that perspective. Appreciated. And a Merry Christmas and Happy and Healthy 2014 to you too.

Not necessarily so.

I get sick of this rah rah nation thing . At Christmas can’t they just swim a nice happy meet & for St Nick to hand out some goodies?

Who would have thought Russia would be leading the Christmas swim festivities & providing the fun ?

As Andrei has written , private sponsored comps are the go outside of big championship meets . The upcoming BP Billiton series is a good example . Minimum jingoism , commercially related invitees ( in this case mining trade partners ) & good prize money.

Plus community promotion of swimming . I am in training for the 2015 Swan River swim 5kms & pool spectator . I thought 2014 but I. Have to get off the Internet & in the pool more .

Not necessarily so.

Oh BHP & further as I look at the list of invitees . No Americans ! ( very quietly ) yay .

Not necessarily so.

On further contemplation & looking at the facts I have changed my mind .

The duel is a brilliant decoy comp . We can keep our Americans friends to one pool & then the rest of us can have our comps in peace. If we can’t beat them outwit them & just plain not invite .



Andrei makes a number of unfair points here…
1. The majority of US swimmers are in the university system and in the middle of a major training cycle or have academic commitments. Also, note that the US just had Winter Nationals.
2. Lochte is hurt, Missy is a freshman in college and has exams this week. Arguably Grevers, Coughlin and a few others are simply taking a break. Still, I would argue that US participation is much stronger than European participation and that this has been the case in both of the last two Duels. Also, note that the 2013 meet’s being held in Europe, even less of an excuse for Europeans to skip it.
3. Americans again have the University circuit which can be world class even in duel meet format depending on the schools competing. Also, the US has the large Arena Grand Prix series. These are domestic competitions and all have a solid level of competition. Some swimmers may have the resources to uproot themselves, find new coaching, move to a foreign country and compete in the World Cup, but it’s a much bigger ask than it is for Europeans and there’s less reason to do so given the quality of domestic competitions. Some still do it and do quite well (Shields, Godsoe spring to mind).

Overall, I think you’re letting your pro-Europe bias show a bit here.

Craig Lord

Dave, thanks for your perspective too. In the middle I would say that it is no easier for Europeans than Americans when it comes to commitments beyond the pool: all these kids must study, do exams, race at other meets etc etc… kids from many countries are in the middle of major training cycles and study … and have just come through winter nationals … I think it unfair to suggest that anything is a bigger ask for one set of folk than another. The US system places no more ‘demands’ on swimmers than any other system in the context of this being a world in which the demand concerned is a choice made by a swimmer and his/her parents. All of that said, it seems clear that, among nations, the USA – even though somewhat easier to handle when you are genuinely one entity and not 52 countries – has the edge on everyone barring Australia (and its super series) when it comes to seeking out the toughest possible challenges and setting up events that are fine showcases (could be great) for swimming.


As for Andrei’s comment about the World Cup, I think it was quite good this year. Regrettably, the US representation was thin (same goes for France), but especially Aussies had a fantastic squad at the Asian Cluster. Big thanks to Down Under for that. Many finals had swimmers from almost every continent and, what is more, even getting on podium required world-class performances occasionally.

The scoring system can be discussed but the new Cluster system seemed to reduce a threshold to enter in only one part of the World Cup. I believe we wouldn’t have seen such the great Australian team in Tokyo, Singapore and Berlin with the old scoring and prize money system still in place.

We need to do better, though. On the one hand I’d extend the time span in which World Cup takes place, but on the other, clusters of competitions would take place less frequently too. One should be in the American continent. Moreover, World Cup shouldn’t be short-course only. The configuration of a pool must depend on the phase of the season. Especially If clusters were held in spring time, they would be long-course. In that way some countries could more easily use world cup meets as trials for championships.

The widely recognized and renowned World Cup is the only way to go if swimming is to improve its status. Many amateur sports constantly collecting fine audiences in the stands or behind TV screens tend to have one thing in common and that is a well-established world-cup-like series. For instance, Diamond League in athletics or World Cup in Alpine Skiing, XC or biathlon are quite popular on TV. Without the prominent World Cup swimming stays as a respected sport at the Olympics and Championships, only.

Andrei Vorontsov

My answer to Dave (it is very good that we have possibility to argue, thank you Craig)

1. In 2012 I took part in a couple of meetings of the FINA Coaches Commission. We talked about different formats of the World Cup (one of proposals was to have a Super Final with good money awards). And we asked our american colleagues: why you do not want to host 1-2 stages? They answer that cannot find money to run WC events and that US TV companies are not interested.
2. One of my swedish swimmers – Simon Sjodin was very keen to take part in the Duel and was waiting for invitation, which never come. He was 8th in 200 IM in Barcelona, but 2nd among european swimmers after Laslo Cheh. A few days ago he won silver in 200 IM at the Euro SC 2013. Simon has his own version why he wasn’t invited (not good oponion concerning organazers).
3. Another swimmer from our group – MIchelle Coleman will be in Glasgow. But me and 4 swimmers age going to St.-Petersburg, including Simon.
4. No pro-European or Anti-American: give swimmers the money they deserve!!!


Even I’m far from expert as to American university system, but we have some deep-rooted structural differences in different parts of the world.

As far as I know, the US swimmers studying at American universities wouldn’t get the prize money for themselves anyway. If they are good enough, they are provided with stipends allowing them to study for free. This university system is, in my opinion, behind the secret for American success in many amateur sport, including swimming. As universities tend to be quite expensive in the USA, possibility for free education is an enormous incentive to train hard for thousands of youngsters in the USA. I’m sure this situation is very beneficial for American universities as well. They have probably no incentive to create or support something which might harm their interests. It’s totally understandable from their point of view.

In many other countries system is different. Universities are often free of charge and one doesn’t have to fight for free education by training hard. On the other hand, combining education and elite training tends to be more difficult too as there is no professional training squads as a part of universities. That makes many promising athletes to stop their careers as they don’t want to take the risk of being professional amateur athlete, possibly postponing their university studies until they are in their 30’s. The elite sport is often institutionalized differently in these countries. We have elite sport institutes, monetary support systems directly to individuals, public servant systems etc.

It’s frustrating but our structural differences make it very difficult to develop swimming towards professionalism at the international level. We can be happy with local meets, with families sitting in the stands and cheering for relatives while enjoying some world-class swimming. If this is what we want, then no truly international series is needed. But don’t hold your breath for better TV coverage and status for swimming either.



please elaborate on point (2) and what your suspicions about the organisers’ selection motives are. There’s very few things I can imagine you’re hinting at, and really hope you’re not encouraging your swimmer to indulge in some very stupid thoughts.

Craig Lord

More great points made… a complex picture … the last point is spot on… only if all the best are there and you can sell it like that to media far and wide … not only TV …. do you have an attention draw beyond the niche audience

Craig Lord

Thanks for those replies and for the info Andrei


I don’t take issue with people not participating in the Duel. Perhaps the organizers need to work out a better schedule or talk to swimmers and coaches to improve the event. However I do have a problem with people committing to the event and then changing their mind on short notice. Unless it’s injury related or something more serious then a commitment should mean something. I don’t like how several swimmers from across the Channel backed out at the 11th hour leaving their erstwhile teammates/coaches in the lurch.


Where is Katinka Hosszu?

Craig Lord

She’s down to do the Salnikov Cup:


KeithM highlighted an important point. A commitment should be regarded as a serious promise to do something. That promise, in turn, enables organisers to sell the event to potential broadcasters or spectators, informing them what they can expect from an upcoming meet.


Thanks Craig. It’s sad to not see the Hungarians attending this, as i think it would have given the edge to Europe with Gyurta and Hosszu in such hot form.

Not necessarily so.

I just popped over to see the projected hosts for Worlds – Russia Mexico Sth Korea& Hungary.

Of the 15 so far Australia & Spain ( 3 times each ) & Italy (2) , South America (2) & 1 each for Yugoslavia Germany Japan China Canada.

Continents . Europe 7. Australia 3 South America 2 Asia 2 & North America 1 ( Canada ) .

By 2021 it will be Europe 8 Australia 3 South America 3 Asia 3 Russia 1 & Canada 1.

Africa we can understand not hosting but no USA for 50 years?

Craig Lord

Not Nec So: USA cannot find a host that can justify to tax payers the large overhead costs of running a world l/c meet… the host must foot a large part of a budget stretching to many tens of millions… in many to the countries you mention, cities get state funding to help cover costs… as far as I’m aware, the US govt does not hand out funding to subsidise swim meets (that only happens at Olympic level…)

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