Saturday, December 11, 2010

Olympic legend visits Bellevue Club

Pictured is Aaron Peirsol with Bellevue Club Swim Team coach Klaas Schenk.

Olympic legend Aaron Peirsol made the trip to Bellevue this past weekend to visit with Bellevue Club swimmers.
In the packed Olympic Ballroom at the Bellevue Club, Aaron traced his journey from skinny 12-year-old to the best backstroke swimmer in history.
“It wasn’t that long ago that I was sitting exactly where you were,” he said.
Peirsol currently holds the world record for 100- and 200-meter backstroke and has captured a total of seven Olympic medals. He didn’t always want to swim backstroke, though.
“One day at practice, my coach told me I was backstroker. I quickly told him he was crazy. I’m a freestyler,” Peirsol said. “He taught it to me, and it felt pretty natural right off the bat.”
Natural or not, Peirsol emphasized what got him to the Olympics. Swimming for the Irvine Novaquatics in Irvine, Calif., Peirsol says his team worked harder than any team in the country.
“I remember one practice, I had to swim 1,000 meters of butterfly. If I broke stroke, I had to start over—and I was only 12 years old,” he says. “From a young age, I realized I couldn’t control what the other swimmers do in the pool. It was an epiphany to me.”
Peirsol encouraged the young Bellevue Club swimmers not to limit themselves. “It doesn’t matter who you’re racing. Never race for second place,” he said.
After his talk, Aaron answered a wide range of questions and signed autographs. He also stuck around to train with the Bellevue Club Masters team the next morning.
“Having Aaron speak at the Bellevue Club was a real treat for all the swimmers. He’s such a class act,” said Sally Reed, Bellevue Club Athletic Director.

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