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Haley Peirsol, Chris Thompson Take the 800 Free with Impressive Swims at Janet Evans Invitational -- July 19, 2002

LOS ANGELES, July 18. MEMO to a certain prominent world record-holder who'll be a freshman at Texas this fall.

Hey, buddy, watch out for that OTHER swimmer in your family. She's about to steal your thunder.

NOVA's Hayley Peirsol, younger sister of world 200 backstroke record-holder Aaron, scored an impressive victory this evening on the opening night of the Janet
Evans Invitational. The meet is underway at the McDonald's Olympic Pool on the campus of USC.

Peirsol defeated a strong field in the 800 to win in 8:39.75, by far her unshaved best.

Peirsol's pr is an 8:34.94 that got her second at last spring's Phillips 66 U.S. Nationals in Minneapolis. Her time this evening gives her reason to be confident about her chances at next month's U.S. Nationals in Ft. Lauderdale, selection meet for the Pan-Pac Championships later in August at Yokohama.

In Florida, Peirsol will be up against such distance stars as Diana Munz, who won at Minneapolis; and Brooke Bennett, 800 free Olympic champ at Atlanta and Sydney who won in Australia with a Big O's record 8:19.67, but has been out of competition since.

However, Bennett has been training rigorously at her Florida home base and reports out of the Sunshine State indicate the triple Olympic champ (she also won the 400 free at Sydney) is looking forward to a big meet at Lauderdale -- and anxious to size up her California competition.

In any event, Peirsol's win this evening is a big win for the Irvine youngster and was a solid five seconds faster than Santa Barbara Swim CLub's runner-up, Adrienne Binder, who clocked 8:44.75.

Binder led the nation's prep girls this past season in the 500 yard freestyle with her 4:42.75 from the CIF Championships in May. She also swam a 15:48 1650 yard free in late February at the Speedo Sectionals in Las Vegas, and that time is the fastest such swim by any American woman in more than a decade.

Third was was Club Wolverine's Lori Eberwein (9:51.87) and fourth was Wisconsin's triple Big 10 champ Carly Piper (8:52.44). Eberwein is sister of former Michigan All-America backstroker Jen, a multi Big 10 champ. Piper won the 200-500-1650 frees as a freshman this past season at the Big 10 Championships.

On the men's side, Club Wolverine's Chris Thompson set a meet record with his 8:00.82 victory, erasing the old meet standard of 8:01.36 by Hillenbrand's Ryk Neethling from three years ago.

Thomspon, Olympic bronze medalist in the 1500 free and NCAA champ last year in the 1650 free with an astounding 14:29+ swim, had seemingly been in a funk since winning at College Station in March of 2001 and hadn't been under 8:10 this year.

He looked extremely solid this evening as he went his unshaved best. His career pr is 7:53.95 from last year's World Championship finals.

He was chased tonight by Korea's sensational 17-year-old Sung Mo Cho, who clocked a pr and national record 8:01.40 -- third-best ever by an Asian man (two Japanese swimmers are the only two faster).

-- Bill Bell

Results: Janet Evans Invitational