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Cortens a sweet sensation

SWIMMING: Taylor, 9, of the Newport Hills Swim Team, recently broke one of Aaron Peirsol's records.

July 05, 2007|By Jason Kornfeld

The last day of Taylor Cortens' Spanish class called for celebration. Time for a fiesta for Taylor.

The party featured a variety of candy and treats. Flashing his beaming smile, Taylor consumed all the goodies possible.

On a normal day, this would not present any problems. But, Taylor's first swim practice followed the party.

With a sense of anticipation buried deep within — past the consumed chocolate and sugar that occupied his stomach — he attended practice.

Taylor splashed into the water that day four years ago. The excitement quickly disappeared, faster than the tears that followed.

With watering eyes, an aching stomach and chlorine soaked skin, Taylor appeared as if he were not made for swimming.

"I got in the pool and started swimming and I got a huge cramp and didn't feel good," said Taylor, a 9-year-old who lives in Newport Beach and attends Andersen Elementary. "I didn't have that good of a time and I wanted to quit."

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Long before Taylor shattered any swimming records, he experienced doubts. But those doubts he eventually drowned. His family and friends watched with intrigue as his swimming prowess evolved as a member of the Newport Hills Killer Whales.

Taylor reached a new caliber on June 9 when his time in the 100-yard individual medley (1 minute, 12.44 seconds) broke the 9-10 age-group record and Harbor View pool record of 1:14.39, set by Aaron Peirsol, who went on to become a three-time Olympic gold medalist. The record is for competition in the South Coast Swim Conference.

Peirsol, a world record holder in the 100-meter backstroke, began his career as a child swimming for Harbor View, which is Newport Hills' rival. He continued dominating as a Newport Harbor High phenom and went on to excel at the University of Texas.

He is slated to graduate in the fall and is preparing for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

"I'm actually surprised it's taken this long [to break the record]," Peirsol said. "I think that it's definitely wonderful. Those things are made to be broken."

Taylor remains humbled by breaking the record and admires Peirsol as well as Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. Taylor keeps a small poster of Phelps in his bedroom.

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