Peirsol Puts Support Behind Ocean Protection

IRVINE, California, August 17. AARON Peirsol, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the 100m and 200m backstroke and 400 Medley Relay, has announced that he’ll “race for the oceans” during the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“I want to get the swimming community and our fans involved in the fight to save our oceans,” Peirsol said.

Peirsol will become a spokesman for Oceana and will specifically work with the group, the largest international organization solely dedicated to ocean advocacy, in its effort to dramatically expand the number of ocean advocates.

“Oceana has accomplished an amazing amount for the oceans in a short period of time — and its clear to me that if more people get activated and support the effort to save our oceans, they can do a lot more,” said Peirsol.

“Aaron’s passion for saving our oceans is remarkable,” noted Oceana CEO, Andrew Sharpless. “He found us and contacted us because he liked the fact that we get stuff done and we believe we’ll be able to get a lot more done with his help, specifically, educating and mobilizing people to join us in the campaign to save our oceans.”

Since its inception in 2001, Oceana has been able to convince US and European officials to protect over 750,000 square miles of ocean from destructive fishing (the largest such protections to date in both the US and Europe) and has also succeeded in getting European authorities to enact the biggest reduction in oil pollution in years by forcing commercial ships to stop the routine dumping of over 20 million gallons of oil and other wastes in the water every year.

Oceana will launch a campaign featuring Peirsol later this summer where the gold medal winner will help the conservation group in its campaign to grow its base of ocean advocates. Oceana currently has over 300,000 supporters in over 150 countries and would like to — in the next few years — dramatically expand this base.

Peirsol will act as a spokesperson for the organization and will highlight the need for more people to get involved with Oceana and its campaigns throughout his journey and effort to reach the Beijing Olympics. A surfer, Peirsol grew up around and in the ocean in Southern California and became motivated to get involved because of his personal experiences in the water.

“Even though I’m a young guy, I’ve noticed a lot of scary things out there — fewer fish and more pollution. It’s made me decide to get involved and try to make things better,” said Peirsol.