Sometimes, even veterans make rookie mistakes.
Peirsol eased his way through the semifinal heat, as he sometimes does at major competitions, to save some energy for the final. That usually isn't a problem for the seven-time Olympic medalist, who was going for his record-tying fourth straight world title in the same individual event. Only this time, Peirsol glided in at 53.22 seconds -- notably, a time that was faster than the world record 53.45 he swam on the first leg of the medley relay at the Athens Olympics in 2004. But in today's age of fast suits and fast times, it was only good enough for ninth place among the 16 semifinalists, one off the Tuesday final group of eight.
"I thought I was going faster," Peirsol said. "I am very disappointed. I completely misjudged my race. I have to go on, pick myself up and focus on my next events."
This doesn't mean Peirsol's lost his touch. He lowered the world record to 51.94 at the U.S. trials in Indianapolis on July 8 and could have gone nearly as fast on Monday. "I thought I was in a much better place than I was," Peirsol added. "In backstroke, you don't see much; you go by feel."
Give Peirsol credit for being the stand-up, no-excuse guy he has always been, and compare that attitude to Serbia's
Cavic continues to cling to the absurdity that he touched the wall ahead of
"I did touch the wall first," Cavic insisted. "Omega didn't record it that way ... Having that race saved my career. I would have stopped swimming if I had won that race. I'm an animal of emotion. Because of what happened, I did return to swimming with a desire I would not have had had I won the gold medal."
It's a shame. Check out the definitive underwater photo from
On to the most surprisingly underwhelming news of the night: the number of records broken so far. There were five of them Monday night, but after swimmers set six of them on Sunday, it almost seems like an afterthought to talk about records.
Still, the story of
On Monday, the decision paid off for the second time in two days. Kukors held off Australian superstar
In the semifinals of the women's 100 breaststroke,
Get ready for a great final in the men's 200-meter freestyle on Tuesday. Yes, Michael Phelps will be the favorite. The Olympic champ and world-record holder qualified third for the final and barely broke a sweat. But there is an emerging threat who looks primed to challenge Phelps' reign of supremacy: Germany's Paul Biedermann swam a 1:43.65, still a stroke off the 1:42.96 Phelps threw down in Beijing. Two months ago, this looked like a gimme race for Phelps, who had eight of history's 10 fastest times in the event. Then Biedermann went under 1:45 for the first time at a race in Berlin.
On Sunday, he broke the world record in the 400 free. Tomorrow, he'll set his sights on Phelps. "I've learned a lot in the last few years," he said. "I thought Phelps would be faster in the semis here. I feel good about my chance and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Not so fast. This is the type of fuel Phelps loves. Put him in a solo time trial with nothing on the line and he'd have a tough time getting out of his own way. Stick a threat in the lane next to him and he gets an extra propeller on his back. "Paul's dropped like three seconds in the last year," Phelps said after his semifinal. "I have to really prepare myself because nobody knows what he can do."