COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, January 28. A reunion of the 2008 Olympic medalists in the 200 backstroke took place this weekend at the Olympic Training Center, with all three logging in some training time at 6,000 feet.
Gold medalist Ryan Lochte and bronze medalist Arkady Vyatchanin are in the Springs for some hard training in preparation for competition at this summer's world championships. On Saturday, they were joined by silver medalist Aaron Peirsol, who was in town for official USA Swimming business, according to USA Swimming national junior team coach Jack Roach.
“Anytime (Peirsol) comes to Colorado Springs, he always stays at my house and we always enjoy spending time together,” Roach said.
“Aaron isn't in the same swimming shape as the other two (Lochte and Vyatchanin),” Roach said. “By coincidence it turned out to be a recovery day, so Aaron just jumped in near the end of the workout. It was great to see the camaraderie these three had.”
According to Roach, Peirsol still has some speed, posting a fast long course 50 backstroke in the high 26-second range in Saturday's workout. By comparison, Peirsol split 26.59 in the final 50 of his world record-setting 100 back swim in 2009.
But we'll stop the rumor mill right here: Peirsol is still retired, with no plans to return to the race pool. As you can tell from the photo, the two-time Olympian and current world record holder in the 100 and 200 backstrokes has stayed active since announcing his retirement two years ago, surfing off the California coast and getting in pool time to stay fit. Peirsol is still a supporter of causes that help protect oceanic wildlife and conservation.
In addition his brief workout, Peirsol took the time to talk to young members of the national select camp who were staying at the Olympic Training Center last weekend.
Lochte won his first individual Olympic gold medal in 2008 in the 200 back, preventing Peirsol from defending his 2004 title. Though pre-race odds suggested the battle would be between Lochte and Peirsol after their dominating swims at the 2007 world championships, it was Vyatchanin that played the rabbit.
Swimming from lane eight, Vyatchanin led for 185 meters before Lochte and Peirsol passed him to give the United States its third 1-2 finish in the event in four Olympiads.
Footage of the 200 backstroke from Beijing:
Photo courtesy Jerry Lai, USA Today Sports