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DAN ALBANO, STAFF
Edison's Thomas Smith and Newport Harbor coach Aaron Peirsol spoke on the pool deck this week at Edison High.

Newport Harbor coach Peirsol is hitting right marks

STAFF WRITER

Edison swimmer Thomas Smith quickly changed course before his impromptu question for Aaron Peirsol meandered.

The senior caught himself discussing backstroke technique with arguably the greatest backstroker of all-time when he realized he actually wanted tips on transitioning to college.

Newport Harbor’s boys swimming coach answered with the same broad perspective he has shared with his swimmers and others this spring.

“(Think about) what you want to stand for as an athlete,” Peirsol told Smith at the Edison-Newport Harbor dual meet.

The LSU-bound Smith knew what Peirsol meant. Smith, a cancer survivor, later talked about representing his school, community and family with pride and integrity in Baton Rouge.

Peirsol has been finding the right marks as a first-year coach at his alma mater. The former University of Texas star has focused on the process of competing with his swimmers while also serving as an ambassador for the sport.

The five-time Olympic gold medalist will be with the Newport Harbor boys today at the Foothill Swim Games.

“He’s really humble,” Edison coach Diggy Riley said of Peirsol. “Newport Harbor is super-lucky to have him.”

Newport Harbor has been swimming fast. Hayden Hemmens, Sawyer Farmer, Simon Young and Dominik Folkner qualified first in the 400-yard freestyle relay during prelims at the Foothill Swim Games with a meet-record 3:11.13.

“The team is happy,” said Peirsol, 31, who holds world records in 100- and 200-meter backstrokes. “Things are settling in a very good way and the guys are doing really well. They’re showing they’ve really got into the season.”

FOOTHILL SWIM GAMES

Katie McLaughlin made a record-setting debut at the Foothill Swim Games. The Santa Margarita senior blazed her 200 free in 1:49.10 in prelims to clip Amy Shaw’s 1990 record (1:49.40).

Courtney Mykkanen of Foothill set a meet record in the backstroke (55.45).

GEORGES TALKS ARIZONA

Woodbridge freestyler Daniela Georges said one of the reasons she signed with Arizona was Coach Rick DeMont.

“He has a lot of experience in events I would swim such as the 200 free and 400 free,” she said of DeMont, a former world-record holder in the 400 and 1,500 freestyles. “I really think they’re a team that can rise at NCAAs.”

Arizona also signed JSerra’s Karli Thuen.

NOTES

Dana Hills freshman diver Jake Greenberg will seek his fourth invitational title Saturday when he competes at the seventh Santa Margarita Invitational. Greenberg, a member of the Crown Valley club, has captured the Marina, Mission Viejo and Martin Luther King invitationals.

Santa Margarita’s 11-dive meet starts at 11 a.m.

Katella’s boys swim team extended its dual-meet winning streak in the Orange League to 14 with a 119-53 victory against Santa Ana Valley this week. The Knights are seeking a fifth consecutive league crown.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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