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Pursley On The Potential For The Duel

Dec 19, 2009  - Craig Lord

Dennis Pursley spoke to SwimNews straight after the end of the British Gas/Mutual of Omaha Duel in The Pool.

How do you think it went?

"I was real pleased, especially with tonight. Once they got past the fact that we we're not going to win every event, and in some cases we're not even close to being as prepared as the competition ... just forget all of that and just have fun with it and get up and put your head down and race and see what you can do in an exciting environment. The momentum started to pick and we saw more of them doing that tonight. I though they did very well for themselves. 

"Some of the British swimmers have just come off the heaviest training cycle of their careers so they've been in a hole and they'd had to climb out of it. Most of them did a pretty good job."

He single Lizzie and Fran out as having excelled. 

"We didn't have a realistic hope of winning the points score but we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to stand up and do some hard racing. Whether you're close to your peak performance or not its good to get in and race."

Was the result what he had expected [nine wins for the E-Stars]?

"We did at least as well as we should have done on paper coming into the meet. We knew that America had a much stronger line up than Europe coming into this meet. As we all know the top Germans and Italians did not participate and in our squad we had most of our top swimmers here but they're at various stages of their preparation with other priorities and competitions down the road. 

"For some the timing worked well in their cycles and for others its more of a struggle, and that's gonna happen. When you put all your big eggs in one basket and you want to do the best you can when it counts the most sometimes there's a price to pay along the way."

How big is the potential of the Duel?

"I think its enormous. In the background that I come from this format is more common.  It's [better] for athletes and fans. There's a lot of potential. I think this will maybe help engender that feeling among everybody to bring more of these things to the sport.

"If we went across to Europe and got the top talent from the whole of Europe it would be a very different situation. But there's a lot of politics involved, unfortunately, and I'm realistic enough to know that that's never going to happen. 

"If we can get the two or three strongest nations of Europe on board and have all their top swimmers here, its going to be a meet.  I think that is realistic."

Would it help to send out individual invitations to big athletes, such as Laszlo Cseh, who wished to be here but was not invited?

"That was kind of talked about but it was really too late in the day. When the Biedermanns, the Steffens, the Pellegrinis and people started pulling off we started having that conversation but it was really too late and people have plans in place.  

"But as far as the future is concerned, approaching coaches and swimmers would be great but again there is politics and FINA doesn't want us to become something so big that they feel we're competing with them. So we have some issues to deal with."

Some Brits wore textile and clocked 2nd and 3rd best textile times ever. Did that please you?

"Oh yeah! We probably had far less experience in the [2009] suits than most countries had so ... we haven't become quite as dependent on them. Hopefully that will work to our advantage. It will be a level playing field and that's really what it should be."

Many Brits suggested that their 2010 priority is not Europe but the Commonwealth. Is that correct?

"Absolutely. That's our highest priority."

Are you glad to see the end of the shiny suits era? Pursley pauses, looks like he's about to say something and then falls silent with a broad smile on his face. 

"My first reaction can't be quoted. I'm ecstatic, as are most of the athletes and coaches. We're looking forward to next month and getting away from all the controversy we've had with suits."