Coming all the way back

After initially not qualifying, Peirsol makes most of opportunity to win 100 backstroke final at Pan Pacific Championships.

August 18, 2010|David Carrillo PeƱaloza,
  • Aaron Peirsol, center, stands atop the winners' podium for the 100-meter backstroke with second-place finisher Junya Koga of Japan, left, and third-place finisher Ashley Delaney of Australia at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Complex in Irvine on Wednesday. Peirsol won the event with a time of 53.31 seconds.
Aaron Peirsol, center, stands atop the winners'… (KENT TREPTOW, Daily…)

IRVINE — Aaron Peirsol was night and day on the first day of the Pan Pacific Championships.

He went from being out of contention in the 100-meter backstroke to winning it. What a crazy nine hours for the former Newport Harbor High star.

The home-field advantage did not help Peirsol qualify out of Wednesday morning's heat to the finale, but his U.S. teammate Ryan Lochte did. Lochte opted out of the 100 backstroke to focus on other events, opening the door for Peirsol to be the second American in the evening's race.

The hometown swimmer got his chance to thank Lochte in a big way. The first person Peirsol mentioned after getting out of the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center was Lochte.

Peirsol defended his 100-backstroke title at the Pan Pacific finals after finishing strong in 53.31 seconds, breaking the meet's previous record of 53.32 set by Peirsol four years ago.


As the rest of the seven other swimmers looked for their times, Peirsol dunked his head in the water three times. Maybe he thought he was dreaming and was trying to wake himself up.

Nope, Peirsol finished ahead of Japan's Junya Koga (53.63) and Australia's Ashley Delaney (53.67), who took the silver and bronze, respectively.

The "Backstroke King" is back on top and it felt good, even if though Peirsol said it was weird to hear an echo during the interview in front of a crowd filled with family and friends.

"I wanted to make most of that opportunity," said Peirsol, who was the third fastest American during the heats in the morning, eliminating him from the final's eight-man field because only the top two swimmers from each country get to advance to the finale.

Peirsol turned it around in his second chance. He went from posting the fourth-fasted time under the sun to the fastest under the lights and has now qualified for next summer's FINA World Championships.

Someone asked Peirsol what he planned to give Lochte for deciding to scratch his name from the final race after finishing with the second best mark in the preliminaries.

"I'll just get him a beer," Peirsol said. "When the meet's over."

The 27-year-old Peirsol has a couple of more races in him at the Pan Pacific finals. Peirsol said Lochte did not pull out of the 100 backstroke for him, but he certainly appreciated the move.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles