There has been one constant trait of Aaron Peirsol throughout his
glorious year of 2002.
Aaron Peirsol has been Aaron Peirsol.
This is important in pressure situations because Peirsol, who is
definitely unique, uses his happy-go-lucky attitude to remain calm. Such
was the case in the CIF Southern Section Division I Finals Friday, when
Peirsol displayed the ultimate farewell.
"I'm still the same kid, the same guy who goofs around," Peirsol said
before he won his fourth straight CIF Division I title in the 100-yard
The Daily Pilot of the Week also won the 200 freestyle and contributed
anchor swims in the victorious 200 free relay and the school-record
breaking 400 free relay, leading the Sailors to their first-ever CIF team
title in swimming.
The senior, bound for the University of Texas, owns seven CIF
individual titles. He nearly broke the national public school record in
the 100 back (47.50) with his personal-best 47.69 and almost broke the
Division I record in the 200 free (1:35.55) with his 1:35.87.
After his performance he jumped back in the pool, celebrating with his
coach, Jason Lynch, and his teammates.
It may be hard to believe, but it's true: Peirsol, after breaking the
world record in the 200-meter backstroke March 20 and breaking two
short-course world records in the 200 back and 200 medley relay April 7,
still enjoys a pizza party with friends. He's still an eclectic music
lover, who especially likes to listen to Led Zeppelin. He still enjoys
laughing out loud.
Yes, he's that kid who passed up Sea View League individual titles so
that he could live it up in the Bahamas.
"It was such a fun trip," Peirsol said of his trip to tape a show for
Nickelodeon. "There was scuba diving, jet skiing, snorkeling and swimming
with dolphins. It really taught me a thing or two about swimming."
Of course, Peirsol was joking about learning from the dolphins. That's
just his style.
It's that same personality that has made him such a pleasure to be
around for his Newport swim teammates.
"The whole experience with Aaron has been something that I won't
forget," said Newport sophomore Michael Bury, who's also a Tar water polo
standout. "Even though he's an Olympian, he's still really down to earth
and very modest."
Perhaps, one of the reasons Peirsol is so down to earth is because he
has found his niche, his calling, so to speak.
Peirsol was made for swimming.
Ever since he became to know the sport as a child he knew he had found
"I like the water and I was good at a young age," Peirsol said. "I was
really competitive at that age. I also love the beach and I can never
argue with winning."
The awards piled up for Aaron Peirsol. And along came the confidence.
When he was 7 years old, his family visited the U.S. Swimming Hall of
Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla, where he promised his mother, Wella, he
would break a world record and enter The Hall.
At age 10, he met the coach, Dave Salo, who led the young Peirsol on
the path to stardom. When Peirsol was 13, Salo, the head man of Irvine
Novaquatics believed Peirsol should focus on the backstroke.
"I felt the door was wide open for him in the backstroke," Salo said.
"When I told him he could break the world record, I don't know if he
believed it. But that's when it started. He did eventually start to
Peirsol's body grew into a swimmer. His training brought about speed
and strength. But Peirsol needed to believe.
"I felt I had been capable to break the (world) record (in the
200-meter back), physically," Peirsol said. "It was just more of a mental
thing. (Salo has) kept me on track and kept me in line. He also coaches
Peirsol also said every coach he has been involved with has made a
strong impact on his life, including Coach Lynch.
"All my coaches have meant so much to me," Peirsol said.
Conversely, Peirsol has also made an impact on Newport swimming and on
his coach. It's practically a given that the Sailors will not win a CIF
team title next year because Peirsol will be in Texas.
"I don't know if we can (win CIF) again," Lynch said. "It's pretty
impossible to replace Peirsol."