By Phillip Whitten
Photos by Peter Bick
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, April 5. IN this morning’s prelims, WR-holder Aaron Peirsol had no trouble in dispensing with challenger Ryan Lochte. The final shaped as a rematch between the two dorsal superstars, though 2004 Olympian Bryce Hunt and Michigan’s Chris DeJong were ready to pounce if either faltered.
Lochte got out fast and first, emerging at 15 meters with a one-foot lead on Peirsol, but it didn’t last long. At 25 meters, the Texas Aquatics ace had captured the lead and when he turned at the 50 he split 26.88 – well under his own world record pace. Lochte, at 27.29, was only a few hundredths off that pace.
Peirsol kept building his race – and his lead – and when he hit the halfway mark his 55.74 was almost two-tenths of a second ahead of his WR pace. Lochte, meanwhile had dropped behind though he split 57.12 at the 100.
Peirsol had the small crowd on its feet and screaming as he tore down the third lap, making the final turn in 1:25.37, still under WR pace, while Lochte followed at 1:27.10, nine-tenths ahead of hunt.
On the final lap, Peirsol tried to record his second global mark of the meet, but he began feeling pain with 25 meters to go, slowing down just enough to miss breaking his mark of 1:54.74. Still, his 1:55.13 is history’s third fastest swim. Peirsol owns the five fastest times of all-time and eight of the top nine.
Lochte, who had never broken two minutes before this morning, followed in 1:57.50 with Hunt third in 1:59.53.