Peirsol settles for silver

Newport Harbor alum upset by Plummer in one of his top events, the 100 back. He has two more events to go at nationals.

August 04, 2010|By Matt Szabo,
(Kent Treptow / Daily…)

IRVINE — If Aaron Peirsol was upset, he sure kept a great poker face Wednesday night at Irvine High.

Peirsol might not have felt upset, but David Plummer of Minnesota definitely pulled one off.

The 6-foot-4 Peirsol doesn't usually get out-touched in the 100-meter backstroke, or any backstroke race for that matter. But in his former home pool, on a big stage, it was a shocker that had the crowd buzzing at the USA Swimming National Championships.

Plummer took the win, holding off Peirsol's rally to win the national championship in the 100 back in 53.60 seconds. Peirsol, the 100 back gold medalist at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing games, took silver in 53.63.

It was the first time Peirsol, the 2002 Newport Harbor High alumnus who was the defending national champion in the event, had failed to win it at a national-level competition since he finished fourth at the 2000 Olympic trials.


"At nationals in the 100 it's been a long time," Peirsol acknowledged after the race, wearing an orange University of Texas shirt. "I don't know. I'm not sure that fazes me really, losing to Dave, considering how close it was. Dave was due."

Peirsol was a teenager at those 2000 Olympic trials; now he's 27. But the five-time Olympic gold medalist seemed reserved after the race. He congratulated Plummer and said that he was happy for the former University of Minnesota standout.

Plummer was approached by two female swimmers with Minnesota caps as he walked toward the media area. One told him she didn't even need to warm-up for her race now, she was so energized.

Peirsol, meanwhile, went off to warm down. When he came back, the 100 back world-record holder was asked if he was surprised to lose a race that he has "owned," having held that record for six straight years, minus a week last summer.

Peirsol shook his head no.

"I don't own anything, let's put it that way," he said. "Everything's on loan. Actually, I was happy for Dave … It was a good race. Races like that could go either way, and I've been fortunate enough to be on the other end of that more than enough."

Nicholas Thoman of Arizona, who finished third in 53.78, actually held the lead at the halfway point. He swam a 25.80 split; Peirsol was in second at that point and Plummer in third.

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