INDIANAPOLIS // Aaron Peirsol knew too well that, to win the 200m backstroke event at the US Nationals on Saturday, he would have to create a world record. And create it he did as he was timed at 1min 53.08secs, improving by .86 secs over the 1-53.94 mark set by his compatriot Ryan Lochte at the Beijing Olympics last year. Lochte, incidentally, finished second in 1-54.21, as Peirsol reclaimed the mark he had once held for nearly five years.
"I knew to win the event someone would have to come close to the world record or beat it," Peirsol said yesterday. "We've been going back and forth for a few years now. But this is all just a stepping stone. He'll [Lochte] get his shot again in a couple of weeks [at the world championships]." Peirsol first took the record in March 2002 and lowered it three times until Lochte wrested it from him at the 2007 world championships. He equalled Lochte's mark at the 2008 US Olympic trials but watched his teammate reclaim it and the gold medal in Beijing.
Earlier this week, Peirsol also took back the world record in the 100m backstroke. Meanwhile, Eric Shanteau, who competed at the Beijing Olympics - despite being diagnosed with testicular cancer - showed he was back in top form after beating the disease, touching first in the 200 breaststroke in an American record time 2-08.01. Shanteau has qualified for three events in Rome, including the 100m breast and 200m individual medley.
Also securing wins and world championship spots on the final night were Dana Vollmer in the 200m freestyle and Olympic champion Rebecca Soni, who touched first in the 200m breaststroke with 2-20.38, just outside her world record of 2-20.22. * With agencies