Ellie Cole and Emma McKeon smile while wearing swimming kit

USA survives scare in Australian swimming meet

The United States overcame a spirited challenge from host nation Australia to win a head-to-head clash between swimming rivals in Sydney.

It took the USA 39 races until the final stage of the program to secure victory before pulling away to finish 309 to 283 as Australia held on for touch without taking the lead on the second night of the Pool Duel.

Australia started the final night with a score of 147-160 after counting the points scored in Friday’s open water relay and Saturday’s first night at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Center.

The host nation closed the gap in Sunday’s opening event, the 6x50m freestyle relay in which three swimmers from each team competed in two legs, but Australia failed to win enough back-to-back races overnight to take the lead.

History was made when retiring Australian star Ellie Cole joined para-athletes Will Martin and Emma McKeon and Grayson Bell in the first relay to feature para and able-bodied swimmers in the same event.

McKeon came back to claim double points in the 100m butterfly after Australia used their ‘flag madness’ wild card, but the superstar watched the rest of the match from the pool as the USA gradually established their dominance.

“It was a really cool concept to bring two incredible swimming nations together to compete,” McKeon said.

“I’m a little sad that we didn’t win in our own backyard.

“I thought we were going to win this game, so I got a little carried away with the score.

Australia had a few successes, but the US had the last laugh.(Getty Images: Matt King)

There would be no repeat of Australia’s famous victory in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay at the same venue during the 2000 Sydney Olympics, when Gary Hall Junior proved himself wrong after claiming the USA would “smash them like guitars”.

The USA narrowly beat Australia this time in what was likely to be a rivalry game, with World Championship gold medalist Ryan Held in the final leg.

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