Race for the Oceans
"Protecting our world's oceans is very important to me because I grew up swimming in the Pacific Ocean and, now that I have a chance to make a difference, it's important to me to help people understand that we can't take the beauty of our oceans for granted," said Peirsol about his Race for the Oceans. "This is a great chance for people to experience the joy of swimming in Florida's warm ocean waters and raise awareness for an important cause."
Pool Swimming Career
Peirsol is a three-time Olympian and seven-time Olympic medalist (five gold, two silver). As part of the American team, he holds the world record in the 4×100-meter medley relay (long course). Individually, he currently holds the world record in the 100 and 200-meter backstroke (long course).
In addition to his American Swimmer of the Year Award, he has also won a total of thirty-six medals in major international competition, twenty-nine gold, six silver, and one bronze spanning the Olympics, the World, Pan American, and the Pan Pacific Championships.
In his Olympic debut at the 2000 Summer Olympics, at the age of seventeen, Peirsol won a silver medal in the 200-meter backstroke. Four years later, at the 2004 Summer Olympics, Peirsol won gold in the 100 and 200-meter backstroke (sweeping the backstroke events) and the 4×100-meter medley relay. In his third Olympics (2008 Summer Olympics), Peirsol won gold in the 100-meter backstroke and the 4×100-meter medley relay. He came short of his success he had in Athens by winning silver in the 200-meter backstroke, finishing behind Ryan Lochte.
Peirsol was born in Irvine, California in 1983, the son of Tim and Wella Peirsol. His father is a mortgage broker and his mother is a retired dental hygenist. He has one younger sister, Hayley, who is also a swimmer. Peirsol and his sister are the only sibling duo to medal at the same FINA World Championships (in 2003). He is a 2002 graduate of Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach, California. Peirsol attended the University of Texas at Austin and graduated in 2006, majoring in government. He was the 2003 NCAA Swimmer of the Year. After finishing his second year of collegiate eligibility, Peirsol signed with Nike and became a professional swimmer.
Peirsol is also involved in a number of charities. He is an ambassador for the Global Water Foundation and the Surfrider Foundation as well as a spokesman for Oceana, which is the largest international ocean conservation and advocacy organization.
Peirsol qualified for his first Olympics at the age of seventeen. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Peirsol finished second to Krayzelburg in the 200-meter backstroke.
At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Peirsol won gold in the 100 and 200-meter backstroke, sweeping the backstroke events, and the 4x100-meter medley relay.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Peirsol won gold in the 100-meter backstroke and the 4x100-meter medley relay. He also won silver in the 200-meter backstroke.
On February 2, 2011, at the age of twenty-seven, Peirsol announced that he was officially retiring from professional swimming. In 2010, he said he had no further goals and found it difficult to swim because he "ended up doing everything (he) set out to do. Things outside of the sport started to interest me."