Peirsol, 17, actually finished with the ninth-fastest time, which
would have kept him out of the finals. But a scratch by qualifier Tommy
Hannan allowed him a trip to the finals.
"I think if he cleans up his start a little bit, I think he'll swim a
better race," said Novaquatics Coach Dave Salo. "He wasn't shaved for
this race, and I think he's more concerned with the 200 backstroke."
Lenny Krayzelberg, beaten by Peirsol in the Janet Evans Invitational
three weeks ago in the 200-meter event, was first overall with a time of
53.67, seven-hundredths of a second off his own world-record mark.
Peirsol swam in the first of two semifinal heats. His 55.97 was
slightly better than his preliminary time of 56.15 and about three-tenths
off his personal best.
"This race is a great way for Aaron to get a feel for what's going
on," Salo said. "Do I think he's at all nervous? I doubt it. He's young
and he knows he's going to have a ton of opportunities ahead of him."
The 100-meter backstroke finals are tonight. The top two swimmers in
that race will move on to the Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
On Sunday, Peirsol will compete in the preliminaries and semifinals of
his strongest event, the 200-meter backstroke. The finals are scheduled