Peirsol reclaims 100 back record

Updated: July 8, 2009, 9:37 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Michael Phelps removed his goggles, tore off the two caps he was wearing, tossed them on the deck and turned around to check the scoreboard. He scowled upon seeing the time in yellow lights next to his name.

As expected, the 14-time Olympic gold medalist racked up his second victory of the night at the U.S. national championships Wednesday. It just wasn't up to his exacting standards.

Phelps won the 200-meter butterfly in 1 minute, 52.76 seconds, well off his world record of 1:52.03 set in Beijing.

"I'm not happy about the 200 fly, but I think some of the things that happened are going to be helpful to me to swim faster," he said. "When I'm satisfied is when I'm doing a best time. I'm not used to not doing a best time when I shave and taper."

[+] EnlargeAaron Peirsol
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesAaron Peirsol reclaimed the 100m backstroke mark he lost to Spain's Aschwin Wildeboer last week with a time of 51.94 seconds at the U.S. nationals Wednesday night.

Phelps was pushed in the next lane by Tyler Clary, a 20-year-old Michigan swimmer who stayed close throughout and finished second in 1:53.64.

"That was one of the greatest swims I've ever done," Clary said. "It was pretty cool. I could see out of the corner of my eye. I was with him at 150 and just being with him was awesome."

Earlier, Phelps won the 200 freestyle, and his two victories earned him a trip to the world championships in Rome later this month, fulfilling the wish of his mother Debbie, who had said last year that she wanted to visit the Eternal City.

"I'm happy with where I'm at all things considered, but I'm really happy with a best time," he said.

Aaron Peirsol created the biggest buzz at the Indiana University Natatorium pool by reclaiming his world record in the 100 backstroke. The Olympic champion trailed Matt Grevers at 50 meters before pouring it on down the stretch to win in 51.94 seconds.

"That's a beautiful race," Peirsol said. "I knew I could do something special."

He became the first person to swim under 52 seconds in the event he has dominated for much of this decade. He has lowered the world record six times.

"The consistency is the thing I've always held myself high on," he said.

Peirsol's previous mark of 52.54 set in Beijing was broken by Spain's Aschwin Wildeboer Faber on July 1. Faber swam 52.38 on the backstroke leg of the 400 medley relay at the Mediterranean Games.

Grevers, the Olympic silver medalist, finished second in 53.11, giving himself another crack at taking down Peirsol in Rome.

Phelps held off David Walters in the closing meters of the 200 free and touched in 1:44.23. Walters settled for second in 1:44.95.

Ryan Lochte was third in 1:45.66. The eight-man field included the 800 freestyle relay team of Phelps, Lochte, Ricky Berens and Peter Vanderkaay that won at the Beijing Olympics, one of the record eight gold medals won by Phelps.

Walters, who earned a gold in Beijing by swimming the relay heats, also qualified for Rome. It's the first time the 21-year-old sprinter will swim an individual event at a major championship.

Peirsol took back the world record wearing an Arena X-Glide, one of the newer suits approved by swimming's world governing body. He donned the version that covers his legs.

"I feel like if I would have worn another suit, I probably would have broken the world record anyway tonight by the way I was feeling," he said. "That's one race that's coming a little easier for me, and tonight I just felt really good."

That wasn't the case for Katie Hoff.

Her second attempt to qualify for Rome ended in defeat again. She finished eighth and last in the 200 free, leaving her with only one more chance in the 100 free. And even that was in doubt, with her coach Bob Bowman saying they would discuss whether she would swim it.

"Everyone's not Michael Phelps," she said. "He seems to be able to handle a lot of different types of sets and weights, and I don't know how he does it, but my body doesn't work the same way."

Dana Vollmer, a 2004 Olympian, won the race in 1:56.20. Allison Schmidt was second in 1:58.63, following up her win in the 400 free Tuesday.

Dagny Knutson, a promising 17-year-old from Minot, N.D., finished fifth.

Hayley McGregory ended years of bitter disappointment with a victory in the 100 backstroke, earning a spot in the first major international meet of her career.

"I've had a long year and I'm really glad to be here," she said.

The 23-year-old Texan set a world record in the 100 back prelims at last year's Olympic trials, only to have it taken away by Natalie Coughlin in the very next heat.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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