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article image7-time Olympic medalist Aaron Peirsol talks about swimming career Special

By Markos Papadatos     Mar 11, 2019 in Sports
On March 11, seven-time Olympic medalist and world champion Aaron Peirsol chatted with Digital Journal about his career in swimming. He spoke about his love for water, the digital transformation of aquatics and he offered advice for young swimmers.
Throughout his respected career in swimming, Peirsol won five Olympic gold medals, as well as two Olympic silver medals for Team USA. "That felt good," he admitted. "I remember asking myself after my third Olympics what my 10-year-old self would think, knowing that I would go on and win seven Olympic medals, and I remembered thinking that my 10-year-old self would be happy. It was a dream come true."
He acknowledged that the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Greece were one of his all-time favorite experiences in swimming, especially since Greece was the birthplace of the Olympics.
In 2005, Peirsol earned the coveted Golden Goggle award for "Male Athlete of the Year." "I was very happy with that. That was a treasure," he said. "All in all, I had a career that I am elated with. I traveled the world for swimming and I have been to every continent but Antarctica. Swimming has given me everything."
He still holds the world record in the men's 200 meter backstroke, and the men's 4×100 meter medley relay as part of Team USA, along with such American swimmers as Eric Shanteau, Michael Phelps and David Walters.
Each day, he was motivated as a professional swimmer by his love for the process. "You are trying to learn from the work, and then you see the results," he said. "I knew it was going to be a long journey."
On his plans for 2019, Peirsol said, "Working on my house here in Costa Rica and putting it back together, and spending lots of time in the ocean. Also, spending some time with some youth in the town that I live in. Getting kids and adults comfortable with being in the ocean and being in the water. It's a nice way for me to still be involved with the water."
For Peirsol, being a part of fellow Olympic gold medalist Josh Davis' Break Out Swim Clinic is one of "the best ways to pass along the message that we were given when we were young." "I look at it as one of the best things that we have in our sport for the outreach and bridging the gap between those that accomplished their goals and those who are looking to figure out how to do that."
"The Break Out Swim Clinic is giving access to kids around the country and around the world to people that have accomplished what they want to accomplish someday," Peirsol added.
To learn more about the Break Out Swim Clinic, check out its official website.
A native of Irvine, California, Peirsol also praised the mission of the USA Swimming Foundation, which works to prevent drowning. "Drowning is the No. 1 cause of accidental death among children. Those things should be what we focus on," he said. "At the end of the day, it's a lifestyle. Swimming is healthy and it's a nice way to live. It is nice to get in the water every once in a while and it is good for your body. It's a nice life-long treasure that you can give yourself."
When asked to reflect in a rearview mirror over the past 15 years, Peirsol said, "I see so many people I love, and places that I am fond of, and opportunities that I am grateful for. At the same time, trying to pass that enthusiasm back in some form or fashion."
Peirsol still wants to stay involved in the sport of swimming and he wants to continue to inspire children. "I am heading to Mexico on Thursday and doing three different clinics," he said.
For young and aspiring swimmers, he said, "Make sure you enjoy it. Make sure that you are doing it for yourself and not your parents and your coaches."
Digital transformation of aquatics
On the impact of technology on the sport of swimming, Peirsol said, "Nothing will really take the place of the ability to feel the water with the self-analysis that you develop. Technology is good and helpful. With video analysis, it is nice to see what you are doing, but you can only take that so far. At the end of the day, you still have to work hard."
He complimented GoPro technology for being able to do "beautiful things." "When you see what it's like underwater, it is beautiful down there. That's another world. The irony is that we can only spend a couple of minutes down there at a time," he said.
Peirsol had nothing but the greatest words about swimmers Michael Andrew and Ryan Murphy. "Michael [Andrew] and Ryan [Murphy] are really great guys. More than anything, I appreciate the good sports that they are. The quality of their character speaks volumes. They are hard workers and great swimmers. I am glad they are good people. I really enjoy watching them both," he said.
For his fans and supporters, Peirsol said, "Thank you. I loved what I did so much. Anyone who is able to see that and appreciate that, I feel like I have an automatic connection with. The community of swimming and sports is a relatively small one. We all have quite a lot in common, and I appreciate that we can travel the world and speak the same language along those lines, and that's unique."
The "Backstroke King" defined the word success as "something that leads to contentment of some kind, and peace." "Success means having engaged in the process correctly. Understanding how the rhythm of life works, and not taking shortcuts," he said.
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