Aaron Peirsol makes most of second chance
IRIVNE, Calif. -- On the bus ride back to the team hotel following Wednesday morning's Pan Pacific preliminaries, Aaron Peirsol thanked Ryan Lochte for dropping out of the 100-meter backstroke final and opening up a spot for him in the race.
"Just promise me this," Lochte responded to his teammate, "that you'll whip up on them."
Some six hours later, Peirsol, the defending Pan Pacific champion and world-record holder in the event, did just that, taking advantage of a second life in the event and winning it in 53.31, 1/10th of a second faster than his own Pan Pac record.
"For me, it was a hard to make the final that way since I didn't really earn it," Peirsol said. "But if given the opportunity, I'm going to do everything I can to take advantage of it. That's the mentality I had."
Lochte had the second-fastest time in Wednesday morning's heat (53.69), but his participation in the event was merely to prepare him for Thursday's 400 IM. With Lochte already swimming the 200 free Wednesday night, he and his coaches decided to sit out the 100 back final.
Peirsol was plagued by a poor start in the morning heat when his foot slipped and he was forced to play catch up. His time of 53.85 still was the fourth fastest. Wednesday night, he stayed with the pack until the turn, at which point he took the lead and held on.
"This race was much more in my control," he said. "This morning was a bit of a wake-up for me. And the turn -- that's about the best I've felt under the water in a while."
So how will Peirsol show his appreciation for Lochte, the long-haired, skateboard-loving, sparkly shoe-wearing free spirit?
"I think I'll get him a beer," Peirsol said. "After the meet is over."