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Page last updated at 14:27 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Michael Phelps faces European stars at Duel in the Pool

British Gas Duel in the Pool
Venue: Manchester Aquatics Centre Date: 18-19 December 2009
Coverage: 18 December: 1900-2100 GMT, BBC Three, BBC Sport website and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra (starts 1830)
19 December: 1345-1630 GMT, BBC One and online (UK only)

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Adlington excited by Phelps presence

By Ollie Williams
BBC Sport in Manchester

United States star Michael Phelps will race European rivals three times as Duel in the Pool starts in Manchester.

Phelps goes in the 4x100 medley relay - as does Britain's Liam Tancock - the 100m butterfly and the 100m freestyle.

Double Olympic champion Becky Adlington faces US rival Katie Hoff in the 400m freestyle late on in Friday's action.

Some British swimmers, including world record prospect Fran Halsall, say they will wear ultra-fast 2009 swimsuits in a bid to defeat the Americans.

Halsall is hoping to chase down the women's 100m freestyle record of 51.01 seconds when she goes in the event at 1945 GMT.

The Manchester event is the last chance for swimmers from the US and European teams to use the suits before they become illegal in January.

"I want to swim the best I can for Europe and get points on the board," Halsall, who will also race in 100m butterfly on Friday, told BBC Sport.

"I need to be in the best suit I can to get that opportunity."

Other swimmers taking part in Duel in the Pool, most notably Phelps, have pledged to race in 2010 swimsuits, which use slower materials permitted by governing body Fina's new regulations.

But world silver medallist Halsall's team-mate James Goddard said some of the European camp are keen to give the faster suits one last outing.

OLLIE WILLIAMS' BLOG

"My coach wants me to wear a 2009 suit, but I've not decided what I'm going to wear yet," said Goddard, who took world short course bronze in the 200m individual medley last year.

"I'd quite like to wear what Phelps is wearing but my coach wants me to do whatever it takes to beat him."

However, Adlington, who captains a European team comprising British, Italian and German swimmers, said she would use a 2010 suit.

"For the rest of my career I'm going to be racing in these suits so I may as well start now," she said.

"Everybody's welcome to wear what they want, though. Some people will want to finish off trying to get a really quick time whereas for me, it's a stepping stone rather than the finale of the year."

Fellow Britons Tancock and Gemma Spofforth, both backstroke world champions, said they would prefer to wear 2010 suits, but it is expected many will leave their decision to the last minute.

Phelps stands out but there are so many who are just amazing. It's going to be a big challenge

Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington

Much of the focus during the competition will fall on 24-year-old Phelps, winner of eight gold medals at last year's Beijing Olympics, who is making his first competitive appearance in the UK.

"I'm gearing up to 2012 and facing the European all-stars is going to be different and fun," he said.

"I had a chance to see the pool yesterday and it's going to be loud. There's a lot of excitement on our team and I'm sure there is on the European side.

"Just being able to compete over here in Great Britain will be the coolest part. Getting ready for London 2012 is where my mind is focused right now."

Adlington told BBC Sport she believes Phelps is as much a draw for the other swimmers as for the sell-out crowd.

"It's very good he has come over, he's the big name everyone wants to see and hopefully the atmosphere will be very good," she said.

Michael Phelps
Phelps won eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics

"There's no pressure on me to perform with Phelps over here, he's the God of swimming. I'm looking forward to it and I'm a swimmer, I get excited about it.

"The US are always top of the medal tally at the Olympics, they're such a big nation that they're always going to be hard to beat.

"Phelps stands out but there are so many who are just amazing. It's going to be a big challenge."

Phelps will face British 22-year-old Michael Rock in Friday's 100m fly final, while Italy's Filippo Magnini is the American's biggest threat in the 100m freestyle.

The action takes place on Friday and Saturday over the 25m short course at the Manchester Aquatics Centre, with 13 men's and women's events plus two relays for both sexes.

Three swimmers from each team will compete in each event. The first-placed swimmer wins five points, with three points awarded for second and one for third.

Winning a relay earns seven points, and the team with the most points at the end of Saturday's swimming will win the event.

The European team, already the underdogs, have been hit by a number of withdrawals, including Britain's Jo Jackson and Italian world champions Federica Pellegrini and Alessia Filippi.

Keri-Anne Payne, winner of 10km open water gold in Rome earlier this year, was a late addition to the European team on Thursday night.

Olympic champion Ryan Lochte, who won the 200m backstroke at the Beijing Games, is the US team's only absentee as he recovers from knee surgery.

This is the first time an event of this format has been held at this level in Britain, whereas the US has previously faced other nations, including Australia, in similar competitions.

Americans also experience the "duel" system of head-to-head swimming at college level in the US, which has no British equivalent.


European select team:

From Britain: David Davies, James Goddard, Thomas Haffield, Michael Rock, Liam Tancock, Christopher Walker-Hebborn, Robbie Renwick, Rebecca Adlington, Francesca Halsall, Hannah Miley, Keri-Anne Payne, Elizabeth Simmonds, Gemma Spofforth, Caitlin McClatchey, Jaz Carlin.
From Germany: Steffen Deibler, Hendrik Feldwehr, Marco Koch, Benjamin Starke, Annika Melhorn, Caroline Ruhnau, Daniela Schreiber, Daniela Samulski.
From Italy: Fedrico Colbertaldo, Christian Galenda, Edoardo Giorgetti, Filippo Magnini, Luca Marin, Joseph Davide Natullo, Fabio Scozzoli, Ilaria Bianchi, Chiara Boggiatto, Caterina Giacchetti, Ilaria Scarcella, Francesca Segat.

United States team:

Nathan Adrian, Mike Alexandrov, Jack Brown, Tyler Clary, Mark Gangloff, Matt Grevers, Michael Klueh, Chad La Tourette, Sean Mahoney, Tyler McGill, Aaron Peirsol, Michael Phelps, Kevin Swander, Nick Thoman, Alex Vanderkaay, Peter Vanderkaay, Garrett Weber-Gale, Elizabeth Beisel, Missy Franklin, Katy Freeman, Jessica Hardy, Margaret Hoelzer, Katie Hoff, Dagny Knutson, Ariana Kukors, Christine Magnuson, Amber McDermott, Hayley McGregory, Mary DeScenza, Elizabeth Pelton, Allison Schmitt, Julia Smit, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer, Amanda Weir.



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see also
Phelps cagey on 2012 medal target
17 Dec 09 |  Swimming
Jackson & Pellegrini to miss Duel
04 Dec 09 |  Swimming
GB stars 'can make names' at Duel
25 Nov 09 |  Swimming
US stars 'wary of British threat'
28 Oct 09 |  Swimming
Phelps set to compete in Britain
21 Oct 09 |  Swimming
Adlington hampered by media glare
03 Aug 09 |  Swimming
Swimming world records in Rome
03 Aug 09 |  Swimming
Tancock claims gold for Britain
02 Aug 09 |  Swimming
Spofforth sets record to win gold
28 Jul 09 |  Swimming
Hi-tech suits banned from January
31 Jul 09 |  Swimming


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