MELBOURNE (Reuters) - American Aaron Peirsol shattered his own world record for 100 meters backstroke at the world swimming championships on Tuesday.
Peirsol won the event for the third time in a row in 52.98 seconds to slice 0.19 seconds off the previous record of 53.17 he set at Indianapolis in 2005.
“I’m extremely elated. At a meet like this it’s not so much the time but the place,” he told reporters.
“I’m more than elated with the result. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the push from the guys in the heat.
“I always thought of a good swimmer as someone who is consistent over their whole career and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Ryan Lochte of the U.S. finished second behind Peirsol in 53.50 after going into the final as the fastest qualifier and Britain’s Liam Tancock, who led at the turn, was third in 53.61.
Peirsol later credited his two rivals for helping contribute to his record by setting a cracking pace from the outset.
“I haven’t felt that pushed in some time by the guys. That’s great,” Peirsol said.
Lochte replied: “When I finished he said ‘thanks’. We help each other as much as we can.”
Australia’s Matt Welsh, the last man to win the 100 backstroke world title before Peirsol made the event his own, said he was amazed by the Californian’s performance.
“Under 53 seconds just seems wrong. I can’t do that in freestyle,” Welsh said.
Peirsol, 23, is unrivalled as the world’s premier backstroker since taking over from his fellow American Lenny Krayzelburg.
Peirsol holds the world record for the 100 and 200 and is unbeaten in either event for five years, winning six world and two Olympic titles since 2001.