The Australian duo of Cameron Delaney (1:59.61) and Matthew Welsh
(1:59.76) posted the next-fastest times behind the American twosome.
The top 16 swimmers in the six heats moved on to the semifinal races,
which took place at 1:30 local time this morning. The top eight from the
semifinals move on to Thursday's finals.
Both Peirsol and Krayzelburg were on cruise control for the prelims,
as the times would indicate. Both are the only ones to ever clock under
1:57.0 in the event.
To show the confidence of the two, both were not shaven for the
preliminaries and Krayzelburg even swam without his cap, similar to his
preliminary performance in the 100 back, which he took the gold medal.
With his parents Tim and Wella and his sister, Hayley, in the stands,
Peirsol led his heat from start to finish. Italy's Emanuele Meresi, who
finished seventh overall, was second behind Peirsol with a 1:59.92.
In Peirsol's case, being a wide-eyed 17-year-old has come in handy.
All the Olympic pressure and stress that comes with the medals and glory
hasn't really fazed him.
"I feel like right now the meet is almost downhill for me," Peirsol
said, comparing making the Olympics to competing in the Olympics. "I'm
feeling like there's an elephant off my back."
It was the same type of response Peirsol gave following the U.S.
Olympic swimming trials, in which he finished runner-up to Krayzelburg in
the finals with a 1:57.98.
Peirsol is the first world-class swimmer to come from this area since
world breaststroke champion John Moffet competed at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Moffet tore a leg muscle in the preliminaries and finished fifth
in the 100-meter event.
With a solid swim in the semifinals, Peirsol and Krayzelburg will once
again swim side by side in a major event. Odds are Krayzelburg will be in
Lane 4 and Peirsol will be in Lane 5.
Krayzelburg, one of swimming's most dominant participants, has only
lost once in the 200 backstroke from 1997-2000 and that was to Peirsol at
the Janet Evans Invitational on July 14.
In that race, Peirsol trailed Krayzelburg by over a second and a half
with 50 meters to go, but rallied to stun Krayzelburg as well as the
overflow crowd at the USC Swim Complex.
Peirsol currently holds the second-fastest time ever in the event with
a 1:57.03 and will probably have to better that time if he looks to upend
Krayzelburg, whose 1:55.87 is the world's record.