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Peirsol finishes in spectacular style

AARON Peirsol closed the US Nationals in spectacular style, demolishing the 200 meters backstroke world record on Saturday, as the US team for the upcoming Rome world championships was completed.

The US trials produced sizzling times including three world records, Peirsol collecting two in the 100m and 200m back and Michael Phelps setting another in the 100m butterfly.

Peirsol was timed at one minute, 53.08 seconds in the 200m, slicing .86 seconds off the 1:53.94 mark set by compatriot Ryan Lochte on his way to gold at the Beijing Olympics.

Lochte took the race out in world-record pace but finished a well-beaten second in 1:54.21, as Peirsol reclaimed the mark he had once held for nearly five years.

Peirsol first snatched the record in March 2002 and lowered it three times until Lochte wrested it from him at the 2007 world championships.

Peirsol equalled Lochte's mark at the 2008 US Olympic trials but then watched his teammate reclaim it and the gold medal in Beijing.

"I knew to win the event someone would have to come close to the world record or beat it," Peirsol told reporters. "We've been going back and forth for a few years now. But this is all just a stepping stone. He'll get his shot again in a couple of weeks (at the world championships)."

Top form

Eric Shanteau, who competed in Beijing 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.

Teenager Chloe Sutton, who competed in the 10km open water swim at the Beijing Olympics, will try her luck in the pool in Rome after winning the 800m free in 8:29.34. The 17-year-old failed to qualify for any of the open water events for the worlds but had earlier secured a spot on the team with a runner-up finish in the 400m free.

Jackson Wilcox won the gruelling 1,500m free in 15:11.98.

In Australia, former sprint world record holder Eamon Sullivan has pulled out of the world championships due to a virus.

Sullivan withdrew from the Barcelona and Monaco legs of the Mare Nostrum Series last month and then competed at the Paris Open and in Milan.

But the 23-year-old Sullivan is still suffering from an energy-sapping virus and will return to Australia for further diagnosis.


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