Olympics, Swimming: Flash Aaron Peirsol Crushes 100 Back World Record En Route To Win

By John Lohn

BEIJING, China, August 12. LAST month at the United States Trials in Omaha, Aaron Peirsol played with the competition during the first two rounds of the 100 backstroke before getting serious in the championship final. He used the same strategy at the Beijing Olympics, his strategy generating a second consecutive Olympic title.

Sitting back during the preliminaries and semifinals, Peirsol shredded the field in the championship final, establishing a world record of 52.54, well under the 52.89 he posed at Trials. Peirsol was out in 25.65, trailing only Liam Tancock of Great Britain, and brought his race home in 26.89, easily the fastest back-end split.

The three-time defending world champion in the 100 backstroke, Peirsol has obviously been an overwhelming force in the event and a man who answers the call at the most critical times. While Michael Phelps is the best swimmer in the world, Peirsol is among the top clutch performers in the sport.

Giving the United States a one-two finish, and their third double-medal showing of the morning session, Matt Grevers took the silver medal in 53.11, just off his 52.99 from the semifinals. Grevers was third at the 50-meter mark, but managed to move up a slot on the last lap behind a split of 27.43. The bronze, meanwhile, was shared by Russian Arkady Vyatchanin and Aussie Hayden Stoeckel in 53.18. A closing split of 27.07 allowed Vyatchanin to move from seventh to third.

Finishing fifth was Australia's Ashley Delaney in 53.31 and the sixth position was occupied by Great Britain's Liam Tancock. In front at the 50-meter mark, his trademark, Tancock was timed in 53.39. Seventh went to Spain's Aschwin Wildeboer in 53.51 and eighth was taken by Japan's Junichi Miyashita in 53.99. All eight men went faster than the winning time in Athens.