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December 2009Edit

Venue: Manchester Aquatics Centre Date: 18-19 December 2009 Coverage: 18 December: 1900-2100 GMT, BBC Three and online; 19 December: 1345-1630 GMT, BBC One and online (UK only)

Michael Phelps leads US team into duel against EuropeEdit

Michael Phelps will lead the United States (also known as USA) Flag of the United States against a team of European swimmers at Duel in the Pool, likely the last major international meet for high-tech bodysuits.

USA Swimming has 36-person team

Against a combined squad from UK / United Kingdom (also known as GBR) Flag of the United Kingdom, Germany (also known as GER) Flag of Germany and Italy (also known as ITA) Flag of Italy at Manchester, England, on Dec. 18-19, 2009. The Americans won the last three Duels, all against Australia (also known as AUS) Flag of Australia.

Olympic gold medalists Ryan Lochte, Aaron Peirsol and Rebecca Soni also were selected, as was Jessica Hardy, who'll be competing in her first major international meet since completing a one-year ban for a failed doping test. The European team has yet to be announced.

"We have a good team going," Lochte said. "We're just going to go out there and have some fun. That's what this meet is about, having fun and racing."

The meet also is expected to serve as the last hurrah for sleek bodysuits that helped rewrite the record book over the past two years.

New standards are scheduled to take effect in January 2010, limiting males to old-style jammers that run from the waist to just above the knees and requiring females to wear suits that only cover the area from the shoulders to the top of the knees. Governing body FINA passed the rules during the world championships, where 43 world records were set.

USA Swimming has already put the new rules into effect for its sanctioned meets and had hoped that Duel in the Pool would fall under the guidelines, too. But this meet is just before the new standards take effect, providing the chance for one last assault on the record book.

"I'm comfortable with wearing the same suit I wore at worlds," said Lochte, referring to Speedo's LZR Racer. "But we're all going to be ready, no matter what suit we're wearing. The suit doesn't make the swimmer, the swimmer makes the suit."

Phelps has already said he'll switch to the jammer when he competes in two European World Cup meets next month and at Duel in the Pool — even though it could put him at a disadvantage against swimmers still wearing suits that cover more of the body.

One of the most anticipated races at the Manchester meet will be the 200-meter freestyle, a rematch between Phelps and Paul Biedermann. The German, wearing a polyurethane suit that will soon be outlawed, upset Phelps at the world championships and took away his world record.

The swimmers say they're eager to put the whole swimsuit controversy behind them.

"Going back to the old-style suits will make swimming go forward," British star Gemma Spofforth said. "This will show people that the best swimmers are those who are training hard, who are fit, instead of maybe those who had a few extra pounds and just stuffed it into the suit."

Europe's TeamEdit

Liam Tancock hopes British swimmers can boost profiles Edit

Liam Tancock won world 50m backstroke gold earlier this year. He hopes British swimmers can become household names by competing in events like December's Duel in the Pool versus the United States in Manchester.

The European team sees backstroke world champion Tancock line up with Rebecca Adlington and more top stars from England (also known as GBR) Flag of the United Kingdom, Italy (also known as ITA) Flag of Italy and Germany (also known as GER) Flag of Germany.

"We're doing so well as a nation that people want to see it," said Tancock.

"If we can make household names and make swimming a bit more of a showcase, more enjoyable, so much the better."

Adlington is arguably the only British swimmer to enjoy widespread recognition following her Olympic gold medals in the 400m and 800m freestyle events.

But Exeter 24-year-old Tancock, the current long course (50m pool) backstroke world champion, believes big names competing on home soil will introduce new stars to a British audience.

It's a fantastic experience for us to be team-mates with some of our rivals and race against one of the top swimming nations in the world. Liam Tancock "That's one of the things I'd like to see," he said. "We've seen (US swimming sensation) Michael Phelps do great thing for our sport.

"As you can see by the names coming over, the likes of Phelps, Aaron Peirsol, Ryan Lochte and Katie Hoff, all these massive names want to come over and race in Britain, so we've got to be doing something right."

Twelve other Britons will join the combined British, German and Italian team, including fellow world record holders Joanne Jackson and Gemma Spofforth.

British coach Dennis Pursley believes the team will be a "strong challenge" to US stars such as Phelps, Peirsol and Lochte, who were named in the American team earlier in the month.

"It'll be exciting for spectators and our team will feed off this," he said.

"The format is made for a thrilling event. It's short and sweet with just one opportunity to get it right as the programme is made up of straight finals with no heats."

Tancock and Spofforth, Britain's two gold medal winners in Rome, each hold long course world records in the men's 50m backstroke and women's 100m backstroke respectively.

However, the Manchester pool will be short course length, 25m, in which Jackson holds the 400m freestyle record.

Britain's contribution to the team comprises 14 swimmers, as does the Italian contingent, while Germany will send eight competitors.

"We've got a pretty strong team and everyone's up for it," said Tancock.

"It's a fantastic experience for us to be team-mates with some of our rivals and race against one of the top swimming nations in the world.

"Aaron Peirsol has been at the top of his game in backstroke for a number of years, as has Ryan Lochte, they're going to be very strong in the backstroke events and they're my biggest rivals.

"This is the end of our short course season and it's coming up to Christmas so it's quite a nice time to race, there's less pressure. It's good preparation leading into the long course season next year."

Absent from the team is Paul Biedermann, who beat Phelps to 200m freestyle gold in a world record time in Rome, as well as German star Britta Steffen, who claimed world 100m freestyle gold ahead of Britain's Fran Halsall.

However, Italian Federica Pellegrini has been named in the team, despite fears she would miss the event as she mourned national coach Alberto Castagnetti, who died last month.

Tancock said he planned to wear Speedo's 2010 LZR suit at the event, one of the last competitions at which 2009's faster swimsuits will be legal.

New regulations come into effect from 1 January which outlaw the faster suits after a glut of record-breaking - and, it has been argued, swimsuit-assisted - performances.

However, he said he did not know what his team-mates, or rivals, would choose to wear in Manchester.

"I don't mind what people wear, it's their own choice," he said.

"I'm looking forward to next year. This year's been a bit different with technology, and rulings, and stuff that's out of our control.

"Next year we're all in a similar situation, so bring it on, it's going to be quite an exciting year."

European select team:Edit

From Great Britain (also known as GBR) Flag of the United Kingdom: David Davies, James Goddard, Thomas Haffield, Michael Rock, Liam Tancock, Christopher Walker-Hebborn, Robbie Renwick, Rebecca Adlington, Francesca Halsall, Joanne Jackson, Hannah Miley, Elizabeth Simmonds, Gemma Spofforth, Caitlin McClatchey.

From Germany (also known as GER) Flag of Germany: Steffen Deibler, Hendrik Feldwehr, Marco Koch, Benjamin Starke, Annika Melhorn, Caroline Ruhnau, Daniela Schreiber, Daniela Samulski.

From Italy (also known as ITA) Flag of Italy: Fedrico Colbertaldo, Christian Galenda, Edoardo Giorgetti, Filippo Magnini, Luca Marin, Joseph Davide Natullo, Fabio Scozzoli, Ilaria Bianchi, Chiara Boggiatto, Alessia Filippi, Caterina Giacchetti, Federica Pellegrini, Ilaria Scarcella, Francesca Segat.

United States (also known as USA) Flag of the United States team:Edit

Nathan Adrian, Mike Alexandrov, Jack Brown, Tyler Clary, Mark Gangloff, Matt Grevers, Michael Klueh, Chad La Tourette, Ryan Lochte, 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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