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Peirsol scratches his way to 100-meter finals

August 11, 2000

Tony Altobelli

Getting his feet wet, so to speak, was just one of the goals met by

Aaron Peirsol on Thursday night at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in

Indianapolis.

The Newport Harbor High School junior, swimming for Irvine

Novaquatics, qualified eighth for today's finals in the 100-meter

backstroke with a time of 55.97 seconds.

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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

for Monday.

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