Pursley relishing chance to test his Brits against America's finest
BRITISH Swimming head coach Dennis Pursley believes this weekend's British Gas Duel in the Pool will provide the acid test for the nation's finest as they lock horns with swimming superpower, the USA.
STAR ATTRACTION: Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington is among the star British swimmers in action in Duel in the Pool (Getty Images)
A European select team, comprising of 14 British, 13 Italian and seven German swimmers, led by Pursley, will take on a highly competitive American team that features 14-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps in the short course meet.
But while the USA, who collected 22 medals at the 2009 World Championships, are sure to provide a stern test, the 14-strong British contingent does include double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington as well as world champions Liam Tancock and Gemma Spofforth.
And Pursley - who spent 14 years masterminding the elite programme at US Swimming - is relishing the chance to see the best Britain has to offer compete against the best in the world at the Manchester Aquatics Centre.
"I expect there's going to be a high level of competition in the races and it'll be exciting to see where we stand up head-to-head against the Americans," he said.
"On paper the USA team are much stronger. However, we have got the best British swimmers competing in the meet and some strong swimmers from Italy and Germany as well.
"It's a much more fan-friendly format with a straight final featuring the top swimmers in each event adding more focus and intensity to the competition and the athletes will enjoy it."
And Spofforth, who collected 100m backstroke gold at the World Championships in Rome this summer, setting a new world record in the process, already knows what to expect this weekend.
"It's very exciting. The format is new in Britain but I'm used to this style of racing in college [in America] so I know how great the atmosphere can be," added Spofforth, who is based at the University of Florida.
"Everyone's going to be racing hard and it will be a nice way to lead into the 2010 season.
"It should be a really great atmosphere and a great opportunity for the sport. It's a lot of fun and the crowd should really get into it."
* British Gas and British Swimming. The nation's leading energy supplier, British Gas, is the Principal Partner of British Swimming, supporting the sport at all levels: 'From paddling pool to podium'. For more information visit www.britishgas.co.uk/swimming