Described as a swim meet unlike any other, the return of Duel in the Pool in Sydney across the weekend certainly delivered.
Whether it was the world first mixed para/able bodied relay, the iconic open water event at Bondi Beach, or the excitement of unique race formats and strategic plays, swimming’s ultimate rivalry was again the centrepiece of an important step forward for the sport.
And the fans agreed.
More than 8,000 people packed into Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre across the two nights of pool competition to create an atmosphere athletes from both countries described as amongst the best they’ve ever competed in.
With a pool length LED screen showcasing the rules and innovations, pyrotechnics lighting up pool deck, and activation buttons that triggered the tactical power up options available to the teams, the crowd were vocal in their support of the two teams, getting right into the action.
The energy in venue was also clear for those watching from home, with the streaming exceeding 1 million minutes on both nights of the broadcast via the Seven Network’s digital arm, 7plus.
The broadcast included insight from both Head Coaches, Australia’s Rohan Taylor and the USA’s Dave Salo, who were mic’d up from the team dugouts, as well as captains Grant Hackett, Leisel Jones, Lindsay Mintenko and Aaron Peirsol integrated into commentary, viewers were closer to the action than ever before.
Swimming Australia CEO, Eugénie Buckley, believes the successful return of Duel represented a celebration of swimming more broadly.
“Our Australian Dolphins have had another outstanding year, so to return home and enjoy such overwhelming support this weekend, from both our swimming community and the broader sporting public, is just reward and a clear indication of the level of admiration for these athletes and this team,” Buckley said.
“To share in that experience with our fiercest rivals in the pool, but at the same time one of our strongest partners out of the water, was significant. There is a tremendous respect that exists between our two swimming nations and when we come together on a platform like this it paints a very clear picture of what swimming truly can be.”
“As an entertainment product I don’t think there is any doubt the return of Duel in the Pool delivered but, more importantly, the level of engagement in the event provides us with an incredible foundation upon which to build.”
Australian Dolphins Head Coach, Rohan Taylor, echoed Buckley’s thoughts.
“It certainly exceeded my expectations in terms of the atmosphere,” Taylor said.
“I think it’s clear from the interest this weekend how much people love seeing our athletes compete so it’s a matter of continuing to evolve and stimulate ideas that will engage that passion and curiosity.”
If you missed the action you can watch the replay on 7Plus.