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Peirsol, king of the backstroke

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- If there were any questions of who reigns

as the world’s backstroke king, Aaron Peirsol answered them all

Thursday at the Phillips 66 National Swimming Championships.

Peirsol, the Newport Harbor High product who is headed for the


University of Texas, displayed his competitive fire in the 200-meter

backstroke and defeated former world-record holder, Lenny

Krayzelburg, by more than two seconds.

Peirsol, the current world-record holder in the 200 back, was just


about a second off his record time, finishing in 1:56.21. Krayzelburg

followed in 1:58.67.

Krayzelburg, a 2000 Olympic gold medalist who is making a comeback

from shoulder surgery, had a 1:59.33 time in the 200 back in July, at

the Janet Evans Invitational. That’s where Peirsol also won, by 24

one-hundredths of a second.

Peirsol, who led Newport Harbor to its first CIF Division I swim

title in May, led throughout the race. All of his splits were faster


than Krayzelburg’s. Peirsol’s final 50 was a 29.95, while Krayzelburg

had a 31.27.

With the victory, Peirsol captured his seventh national title. He

has three in the 100 back and four in the 200 back.

Just as he did for the Sailors in May, Peirsol has been

contributing points for his club team, Irvine Novaquatics, in the

National Swimming Championships. The Novas have increased the

10-point lead they had through 20 events. After 26 of the 34 events,


the Novas have 427 points in the combined team scores. Circle C

trails with 281.50 points. The Novas, coached by Dave Salo the head

man of the Orange Coast College swimming teams, have not won a

national team title. They have won a women’s title, which came last

year. This summer, the Novas’ women’s team is ahead of Auburn

Aquatics’ by a 208-169 margin. Novas’ men are second in their field,

trailing Circle C, 303.50-219.

In May, Peirsol completed one of the more outstanding prep

swimming performances when he won two events (200-yard free, 100

back), and contributed in two victorious freestyle relays, the 200

and school record-breaking 400. Peirsol concluded his high school

swimming days with seven CIF individual titles, including four in the

100 back. After his performance he revealed his version of reward for

his efforts.

“The CIF team title eclipses everything I did in that meet,” he


Peirsol’s younger sister, Hayley, will compete today at the Summer

Nationals in the 800 freestyle. She is seeded second. Hayley Peirsol,

the Newport Harbor senior-to-be who finished fifth in the 400

individual medley Monday, will also race in the 1,500 free Saturday.

She is seeded ninth in that event.

Nicole Mackey, who will also be a senior at Newport Harbor in the

fall, will compete in the 200 back today. And, Ryan Lean, a Newport

Harbor product who’s headed for UC Berkeley, will swim in the 1,500

free today, and the 800 free Saturday.