Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Beijing National Aquatics Centre, Beijing Olympic Green, Beijing
Date Started: August 13, 2008
Date Finished: August 15, 2008
[Aaron Peirsol] won the 100 and 200 backstroke titles at the 2004 Olympic Games and at both the 2003 and 2005 World Championships. However by 2007 his team-mate [Ryan Lochte] had emerged from his long apprenticeship in the shadow of Peirsol and [Michael Phelps] to post a serious threat to Peirsolâs dominance of the event. The two men fought out a classic duel at the 2007 World Championship which ended with Lochte taking both Piersolâs world title and also his world record.
By the time of the US Olympic trials the roles were reversed and it was Peirsolâs turn for victory and to regain his world mark. It was no surprise then that few could see any other outcome than that the pair would reprise their rivalry at the Beijing Olympics. In the Olympic final [Arkady Vyachanin] of Russia threatened to throw a spanner in the works by blasting out into the lead but he faded in the home stretch leaving the two Americans to race to the wall. It was Peirsol who held the lead at the final turn but it was Lochte who had the strength to surge to the win. Lochte took nearly four-tenths of a second off the world record with Peirsol in a clear second and Vyachanin holding on to third place despite tiring badly. Vyachanin had only qualified for the final after a tie for the last qualifying place in the semi-final had necessitated a swim-off.