PEIRSOL, TORRES WIN BIG AT NATIONALS
By P.H. Mullen
FEDERAL WAY, March 29. The first full day of the Phillips 66 National Championships belonged to a comeback queen and a fresh-faced upstart, as Dara Torres, 32, won her 11th national title but first since 1991 and backstroker Aaron Peirsol, 16, took captured his first national title with history's third-fastest time in the
Santa Clara's Torres, a three-time Olympian who last year returned to
swimming after a seven-year layoff, captured the 100-m freestyle with a
lifetime best 54.98 after swimming the first 50 meters 0.2 seconds faster
than Jenny Thompson's 1992 American record of 54.48. Coming on strong the
last 12 meters was Martina Moracova of Dallas Mustangs, who finished second
in 55.19. Courtney Shealy of Athens Bulldog took third with 56.21.
In the 200-m backstroke, Peirsol's winning time of 1:57.03 brought spectators to their feet and left the incredulous Piersol celebrating in lane five.
"This is just unreal," the Irvine Nova Aquatics swimmer said afterward. " I
was hoping for a high 1:58. I never dreamed I would be at this level right now."
Finishing behind Piersol by nearly two body lengths was Curl-Burke's Brian
Walters in 2:00.38. Teammate Marcus Rogan punched the wall in 2:01.71.
The men's 100-m free belonged to the phenomenal Neil Walker of Texas
Aquatics, who overcame Irvine's Jason Lezak on the second 50 to post a 49.02, the third-fastest U.S. time ever. Scott Tucker of Auburn Aquatics squeezed out second in 49.54 while Lezak spun to third with a 49.62.
In the women's 200-m breast, Athens Bulldog Swim Club's Kristy Kowal, the
2000 NCAA swimmer of the year (along with teammate Courtney Shealey), destroyed the field with a 2:25.74. One hundred-meter specialist Megan Quann of Puyallup, swimming her first national-level 200-meter breast finals, hit the wall second in 2:28.77, her best time by four seconds. Foxcatcher's Maddy Crippen was third in 2:30.56.
Afterward, Quann promised a world record swim in her 100-meter breast finals
In the men's breast event, Kowal's male NCAA-swimmer-of-the-year counterpart, Curl-Burke's Ed Moses narrowly managed to hold off a surging Kyle Salyards of Tempe, 2:13.86 to 2:14.32. Finishing third was Roysuke Imai of USC and Japan in 2:16.12. Moses was under world-record pace until the 150 meters.
The 200 butterfly belonged to Britain with Margaretha Peddar of Great Britain winning the women'sevent in 2:10.57 and her teammate Stephen Parry taking the men's title in an impressive 1:56.34, edging favorite and number-one ranked Tom Malchow.
The women's 200-m back went to Quann's 16-year-old teammate Jamie Reid who won in 2:12.00.