"Instead of Jack swimming the race, it was Jill swimming the race".
Is the "swimming the race" for Jill needed? What if I only put "swimming"? What if completely omit it?
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It is not needed and is mostly a question of style. You could say
The article "the" and noun "race" are not needed, nor is the second verb "swimming."
The implied meanings might be slightly different for each of them.
For example, 1 seems the most clear and neutral to me. Number 2 seems to me to emphasize the fact that is is Jill, as opposed to anyone else. It puts the focus more on Jill. Number 3 seems to me to slightly emphasize the fact that it's Jill SWIMMING, as opposed to doing something else. There is more emphasis on Jill swimming, than on Jill herself.