Pan Pacific swimming update: Peirsol wins 100 backstroke
Ryan Lochte stepped aside, and Aaron Peirsol took full advantage of the backstroke lifeline.
Peirsol had been on the outside looking in after the morning heats Wednesday at the Pan Pacific Championships in Irvine. But he got a second chance when Lochte scratched from the 100-meter backstroke.
He didn’t mess up this time.
Peirsol, who was raised in Orange County, won the event in 53.31 seconds, getting out fast and holding off a determined charge. Junya Koga of Japan was second in 53.63, and David Plummer, who beat Peirsol to win the recent U.S. nationals here, was fifth.
Later, Michael Phelps had little trouble in winning the 200 butterfly in 1:54.11. Nick D’Arcy of Australia was second in 1:54.73.
Phelps still was not thrilled and clearly was feeling the hurt.
“It was painful, oh my.… I wanted to go 1:53,” he said in his interview on the pool deck. “There were some things I didn’t do well in that race that could have been the difference.
“I think I chopped a couple of walls … small technical things.”
Phelps drew a laugh from the crowd when asked how close he was to where he wanted to be.
“A long way, a long way,” he said.
That result was expected, not quite what happened in the 100 backstroke.
“I should start off by thanking Ryan Lochte,” Peirsol said. “I owe him ... something after the meet.”
Later, in the mixed zone, Peirsol thought about what he was going to do for Lochte, and suggested that he would buy him a beer.
What put Peirsol in that position was the strength of the American team. The format of the meet is that just two swimmers from a country can move on to the finals at night.
Time, for once, wasn't the determining factor. Peirsol was the third-fastest American in the morning heats behind Plummer and Lochte.
Lochte, knowing he has a rugged schedule here, opted to concentrate on the 200 freestyle, which he ended up winning, and that kept the door open for Peirsol.
“So I wanted to make the most of the opportunity,” Peirsol said. “It was very altruistic of him. He didn’t have to do that for me.”
Other winners in early action on the first day of the four-day meet were Jessicah Schipper of Australia in the 200 butterfly, Allison Schmitt of the United States in the 200 freestyle and Cesar Cielo of Brazil in the 50 butterfly.
-- Lisa Dillman