Aaron Peirsol, the five-time Olympic gold medalist known as the Backstroke King, has been named the boys' varsity swim coach at his alma mater Newport Harbor High, Principal Sean Boulton announced Friday night.
Peirsol, the world-record holder in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke, joins Brian Melstrom, who is the seven-year girls' swim coach at NHHS, on the pool deck where the swimming star had roamed.
"He's a Sailor," Boulton said, explaining how Peirsol returned to coach at his alma mater. "He's been a [Newport Beach] lifeguard and a resident. He's been around the area and we reached out to him to get a broad perspective and with him being so successful here as a student athlete. It evolved from there. It took a few weeks. We offered him the position and he accepted."
Peirsol could not be reached for comment Friday night.
He takes over for Robert Lynn, who had also coached boys' water polo coach at Newport Harbor before he stepped down amid controversy this past summer. NHHS continues its search for a new boys' water polo coach.
Peirsol appears to be on the opposite end of the spectrum of controversy.
"More than anything, he's a man of character standing in front of our swim team and leading them," Boulton said. "He has the right perspective. He understands what it means to be a student-athlete. He's going to be the role model for them. That's what we need for Newport Harbor boys' aquatics."
Peirsol, who worked as a Newport Beach lifeguard this past summer, is expected to be inducted into the Newport Harbor Hall of Fame in the coming weeks.
Last year, he would sometimes stop by the Newport Harbor pool deck just to show his support for the youth in the Newport Beach Swim Club.
He's plugged into the community. He led a jog-a-thon fundraiser at Newport Heights Elementary School Wednesday morning.
Peirsol, who retired from competitive swimming in February of 2011, was a star at Newport Harbor, leading the boys' swim team to its first and only CIF Southern Section Division I championship in 2002. He only became better on the Olympic scene, winning gold medals and setting world records in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke.