U.S., Australia bring back Duel in the Pool swim meet

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The Duel in the Pool, a swim meet pitting the U.S. against rival Australia, is being revived this year.

It will be held in Sydney from Aug. 19-21.

The U.S. and Australia, whose rivalry two decades ago at the dawn of the Michael Phelps era led to the Duel’s creation, will face off in the team event for the first time since 2007.

The Duel in the Pool was held in odd years from 2003 through 2015. The first three editions were the U.S. vs. Australia. The last four were the U.S. vs. Europe in a Ryder Cup-style, multi-day event.

The U.S. won every edition, all by wide margins except in 2013, when the Americans edged the Europeans in a tiebreaking relay.

If both nations’ best swimmers take part, this year’s Duel could see Olympic rematches between Katie Ledecky and Ariarne TitmusCaeleb Dressel and Kyle Chalmers and Regan Smith and Kaylee McKeown.

The new Duel format will include Paralympic and open-water swimmers on each nation’s roster of 30.

Australia challenged the U.S. for swim supremacy at the Olympics in the 2000s, but dropped off in 2012 and 2016 with four total gold medals between those two Games. The Aussies re-emerged in Tokyo, winning nine gold medals to the U.S.’ leading 11 and earning more relay medals than the Americans.

The highlight of past U.S.-Australia Duels came in 2007, when Australian Libby Trickett swam the then-fastest women’s 100m freestyle in history, which didn’t count for record purposes because it came in a mixed-gender relay with Phelps in the adjacent lane.

U.S. swimmers are training to peak for next week’s world championships trials in Greensboro, N.C., and the world championships in Budapest in June.

Some Australian stars, including Titmus, Chalmers and seven-time Tokyo medalist Emma McKeon, are skipping worlds to focus on the Commonwealth Games later this summer in Great Britain.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

Sifan Hassan
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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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