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
“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.