In March 2009 it was announced that British Swimming were looking at proposals to host a Duel in the Pool style meet between the USA and a combined European team in Manchester, dubbed the Ryder Cup of swimming. On 21 October 2009, it was announced that a Duel in the Pool will take place between a "European select team" and the USA in Manchester on 18 and 19 December 2009. This event will include the first competitive performance by Michael Phelps in Britain.
The E-Stars team was announced on 25 November following a delay in confirming availability of some of the originally selected swimmers. It was originally intended that the European team would include 12 swimmers from each of the three participating nations, however the team list included fourteen each from Great Britain and Italy, with just eight from Germany.
Middle-distance freestyle swimmers Joanne Jackson (GBR) and Federica Pellegrini (ITA) were originally included on the team list, however their withdrawals were announced on 4 December – Jackson due to recovering from a lung infection, and Pellegrini due to a clash with an awards dinner in Italy. Jackson's position in the team was filled by Jazmin Carlin (GBR). German Steffen Deibler was present on the original team list, however he withdrew from the event due to illness on 14 December and was replaced by Marco Orsi of Italy.Alessia Filippi (ITA) also withdrew due to illness on this date.Keri-Anne Payne (GBR) was drafted into the team as a replacement for Filippi just a few days prior to the start of the competition. The final team list consisted of 13 Italian, 7 German and 15 British members.
The competition followed the format of previous Duel in the Pool events, and were held in a short course (25 m) pool. Up to three swimmers from each team competed in each of the twenty-six individual events – thirteen each for men and women. Points were awarded for the top 3 finishers in each individual event – five points for the gold medal finisher, three for silver and one for bronze. Swimmers in fourth to sixth position were awarded no points. The winning team in each of the relay events were awarded seven points, with none for the losing team. In the event of a tie, a mixed 4×50 m medley relay would have been held with a single decisive point to the winner.
Gold medallists in each event received a prize of 1,000 US Dollars, with world record swims receiving a bonus of 15,000 US Dollars.
Events were swum in the following order, with women followed by men in each event.
The main pool was used for the 2009 Duel in the Pool – it was converted to the short course (25 m) format with temporary seating for 3000 positioned atop of the moveable floor sections of the diving pool and Oxford Road end of the main pool.
The results for each event are shown below.World (WR), European (ER) and United States national (AM) records are indicated in the notes column as per the official results sheets, whilst British (BR), Italian (IR) and German (GR) national records are individually referenced where the time was not also a world or European record.
Following a ruling by USA Swimming that national records set after 1 October 2009 would have to conform to the 2010 FINA swimwear regulations, the United States national records reported in the official results and the media are unlikely to be ratified as such and hence the notations displayed in the results below are bracketed. This decision results in the situation where a number of American swimmers hold world records faster than the national record.