The American hosts of the Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool scored a runaway victory 181.5 points to 80.5 over the Europe All-Stars in Atlanta's Georgia tech pool today.
The world of swimming awaits yet a genuine US Vs Europe duel in which the best of both worlds stand to fight (and that may never happen given the politics and personal pressures of it all) but the past two days in Atlanta have not only confirmed the new potential of a format tried and tested many moons ago when the concept of a world championship was yet a dream but will have reminded some in the old world who thought they had closed their 2011 on the crest of a wave to keep their feet firmly planted on the ground.
On the second day of action, Lotte Friis (DEN) fell just shy of breaking the world s/c record with an 8:04.77 victory in the 800m freestyle, the time the world best in a textile suit, while the concluding session also witnessed three other world textile bests and what would have been a world record if all four women from Europe in the 4x100m free relay had hailed from the same country.
Jessica Hardy (USA) clocked 1:03.33 to inflict a rare defeat on world champion Rebecca Soni and taking out the former world record and textile best of Leisel Jones (AUS), 1:03.63 from July 2010.
Then towards the end of play, Caitlin Leverenz (USA) fell just shy of the world record all suits and set a world textile best in the 200m medley, her 2:04.91 (27.68, 59.96, 1:34.46) victory just 0.31sec shy of the global mark set by Julia Smit (USA) at the duel two years ago just before shiny suits were sunk. Leverenz was a class apart as she topped the 2:05.73 at which the world textile mark had stood to Mireia Belmonte (ESP) since she lifted the world crown a year ago.
There might also been a world record but Europe is not an entity in the swimming world and world marks cannot be set if swimmers from more than one country race together. Still, a good story will be told by Jeanette Ottesen (DEN), on 52.39, Fran Halsall (GBR), on 51.57, Aliaksandra Herasimenia (BLR), on 52.21, and Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED), on 51.36, their combined 3:27.53 inside the 3:28.22 at which the Netherlands holds the world mark.
A strange situation. Not inconceivable to imagine all four of those European teamsters, with Ottesen and Herasimenia having shared the world 100m crown in Shanghai this summer past, standing up against each other in the solo 100m London 2012 final next summer, with a couple of those who opposed them today.
The US quartet of Natalie Coughlin, 52.59, Jessica Hardy, 52.32, Dana Vollmer, 52.19, and Missy Franklin, 51.36, set an American record of 3:28.46, the best ever by four from the same nation in textile suits, inside the 3:28.54 held by the Netherlands since last year..
Friis set the tone for it all as she led from start to finish, her splits as follows:
In the face of such heat, Friis's time a tick away from the 8:04.53 global standard held by Alessia Filippi (ITA) from the last season of non-textile suits, the rest seemed to melt a little, Chloe Sutton (USA) on 8:14.29 for second, Grainne Murphy (IRL) on 8:18.03 and Kate Ziegler (USA) on 8:18.39.
In Leverenz's mighty wake in the medley, Elizabeth Pelton took second for the US in 2:07.27, Katinka Hosszu (HUN) third in 2:07.64 just ahead of former world l/c champion Katie Hoff (USA), on 2:07.77, Smit next home on 2:08.67.
Hardy blasted a 29.96 on the first 50m of the 100m breaststroke pin her way to crushing the opposition, Soni second in 1:04.53, Rikke Moeller Pedersen (DEN) third in 1:05.50, 0.25sec ahead of 2004 200m Olympic champion Amanda Beard (USA).
With the hosts dominating most events and leading the duel by a sizeable margin, Pal Joensen (FAR) and Elizabeth Simmonds (GBR) joined Friis in fighting for old-world pride.
Joensen took the 800m free in 7:36.24, that the third equal best ever in a textile suit after efforts from Australian Olympic champions Grant Hackett and Kieren Perkins and matching the best of Jorg Hoffmann (GER), 1991 world 1500m champion, back in January 1997. Joensen trailed Michael Klueh (USA) by 0.02sec at the half-way mark, on 3:50.13 before piling on the pressure to establish a lead of almost a second over the following 100m.
Just 200m later, Joensen had a lead of 3.5sec on his way to victory, Klueh taking second in 7:39.90, Mads Glaesner (DEN) giving Europe another point in 7:42.27 for third place, Peter Vanderkaay ((USA) on 7:48.48.
Simmonds clocked 56.82 for victory in the 100m backstroke, 0.1sec ahead of Olympic champion Natalie Coughlin and US teammate and woman swimmer of the year, 200m winner Missy Franklin, on 57.49. In their wake came Elizabeth Pelton (USA) on 57.64, European s/c champion Daryna Zevina (UKR), 58.63, and world record holder Gemma Spofforth (GBR), on 58.72. Simmonds fell just shy of the British record of 56.69 she set in the dying days of shiny suits.
By the time Franklin took third in the backstroke sprint, she had already won the 200m freestyle, in 1:53.19 ahead of teammate and world 100m 'fly champion Dana Vollmer, 1:53.92, Katie Hoff granting the Americans a clean sweep in 1:54.24, the best of Europe Dutch sprinter Ranomi Kromowidjojo on 1:55.77.
The men's 200m free was also a US clean sweep, Ricky Berens dominating on 1:42.68 ahead of next-generationers Matt Mclean, 1:44.26, and Conor Dwyer, 1:44.45, Dinko Jukic (AUT) the first of the visitors in 1:44.59.
Marleen Veldhuis (NED) struck back for Europe with a 23.43 victory in the 50m free that fell just shy of the 23.37 at which team-mate Kromowidjojo, second today in 23.61 after a rare 200m free earlier in the session, holds the world textile mark. Fran Halsall (GBR) completed a European points clean sweep in 23.73 ahead of Hardy, Coughlin and Amanda Weir.
The 200m 'fly battles gave each team a win, Olympic silver medallist Laszlo Cseh (HUN) victorious in 1:51.18 ahead of Davis Tarwater, who has a tale to tell the grandchildren, his 1:51.90 setting a US record inside the 1:52.26 of Michael Phelps on a rare appearance in s/c metres on the 2009 world cup tour that singled him out as the man who returned to textile before the rest had the courage to swim into the future. Third in Atlanta today went to Bence Bizco (HUN) on 1:55.26.
The women's race went to Kathleen Hersey in an American record of 2:03.49 ahead of teammate Elaine Breeden, on 2:04.98, Martina Graenstrom (SWE) taking the point for Europe in 2:06.08.
But for Daniel Gyurta (HUN), American men took all points in the 100m backstroke and the 100m breaststroke battles. Brendan Hansen pipped Gyurta 57.47 to 57.62 just ahead of Mike Alexandrov, on 57.81, in the breaststroke, while Matt Grevers, Nick Thoman and Ryan Lochte swept the opposition away on 49.85, 50.13 and 50.65 respectively on backstroke.
Lochte later held off Cseh in the 200m medley 1:52.98 to 1:53.31, Markus Rogan (AUT) taking the point for Europe in 1:53.93. The men's freestyle dash delivered another home win, Nick Brunelli on 21.28, 0.01sec ahead of Vladimir Morozov (RUS), Grevers, heart beating yet from earlier efforts, on 21.38.
The closing relay - quartet battles all or nothing (7 or 0) in the duel, the US 4x100m free foursome of Grevers (47.08), Garrett Weber-Gale (46.99), Brunelli (47.01) and Berens (46.14) clocked 3:07.22 to win by the grit of Berens, who got past the visitors on the way home to win by 0.76sec. Konrad Czerniak (POL), on 47.17, Adam Brown (GBR), on 46.85, Morozov (RUS), on 46.56, and Krisztian Takacs (HUN), on 47.40, flew the flag for Europe at a meet that takes no prisoners when done right.