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Men's NCAAs, Day 3: Peirsol takes the 200 Back in World Record Time -- March 27, 2004

By Phillip Whitten

200 meter backstroke
EAST MEADOW, New York, March 27. TEXAS sophomore Aaron Peirsol was determined. A triple world champion last year, he’d managed only a third place finish thus far.

But the 200 back was his baby. He held the short course and long course world records, plus the American record for 200 yards. And he had qualified first in 1:51.89 – just 72-hundredths off his world record.

Peirsol got off to an excellent start and turned in 26.52 at 50 meters, only 3-hundredths behind Stanford’s Peter Marshall, the leader. Coming up from the turn he gained the lead and made it to the halfway mark in 54.72 seconds, with Markus Rogan of Stanford maintaining contact at 54.99.

Rogan made a big move in the third 50, but could only pick up .08, as Peirsol responded. It was now a two-man race.

Peirsol then turned it up a notch and pulled away to win in 1:50.64. Rogan’s 1:51.37 makes him the second fastest performer all-time.

Afterwards, Peirsol commented: “They (his opponents) swam the race the way I wanted them to, taking it out much faster than last year. I saw (Rogan) coming on in the third 50 but I knew I’d be able to tough it out and win.”

He was right.