Aaron Peirsol

From Open Water Swimming Wiki

Aaron Wells Peirsol (born 23 July 1983) is an American waterman and a competitive swimmer who specialized in the backstroke.

Swimming Highlights[edit]

  • He is the namesake and organizer of the Race for the Oceans open water swimming fundraiser in Fort Myers Beach in Fort Myers, Florida, U.S.A. Aaron Peirsol's Race for the Oceans raises funds and awareness for Oceana, a non-profit group established to protect and restore the world's oceans and for which Aaron Peirsol is a spokesperson. Part of the proceeds from the Race for the Oceans goes to clean up the oceans and raise awareness for the ongoing need to protect them.
  • He is a bodysurfer and open water swimmer who teamed up with Ashley Twichell in the team relay competition at the 2013 King and Queen of the Sea (Desafio Rei e Rainha do Mar) event on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • He is a member of the FINA Athletes Committee for the 2017-2021 term.
  • He 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 won 36 medals in major international competition, including 29 gold, 6 silver, and 1 bronze spanning the Olympics, FINA World Championships, Pan American Games, and the Pan Pacific Championships.
  • In his Olympic debut at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, at the age of 17, Peirsol won a silver medal in the 200-meter backstroke. *At the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, he won gold in the 100 and 200-meter backstroke and the 4×100-meter medley relay.
  • In his third Olympics at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, he 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.

Race for the Oceans[edit]

"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."


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.

Olympic Games[edit]

  • 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 2 February 2011, at the age of 27, 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."

Aaron Peirsol Enjoying Body Surfing[edit]

Greatest Watermen in Open Water Swimming History[edit]

He was named as one of the Greatest Watermen in Open Water Swimming History by the World Open Water Swimming Association in 2015:

1. Zacharias Alexandrakis (Macedonia): Marathon swimming enthusiast, open water swimming promoter, lifeguard, swimming coach and lifesaving leader.
2. Antonio Argüelles Díaz-González (Mexico): Triathlete, ultra-endurance athlete, channel swimmer and author
3. Stathis Avramidis, Ph.D. (Greece): Researcher, swimmer, author, speaker, and lecturer
4. Peter Bales (South Africa): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, governing body administrator and escort pilot
5. Vito Bialla (U.S.A.): Extreme relay swimmer, professional sailor, and escort pilot of the Farallon Islands, California
6. Paul Blackbeard (South Africa): World-class pool swimmer, ocean swimmer, and life saver
7. Lord Byron (Great Britain): Poet, author and pioneering sea swimmer
8. Dick Campion (Australia): Olympian, coach, trainer, author, promoter, and professional marathon swimmer
9. Daniel Eulogio Carpio Massioti (Peru): Four-time Olympian, Channel swimmer, professional racer, and solo swimmer
10. Bruckner Chase (U.S.A.): marathon swimmer, ocean advocate, ambassador to the disabled, filmmaker, paddler and surf lifesaver
11. Buster Crabbe (U.S.A.): Olympic champion, ice swimmer, promoter, and movie star of 3 pulp fiction heroes
12. Guy Delage (France): Ocean swimmer, extreme adventurer, diver, submariner, and sailor
13. Marcos Díaz (Dominican Republic): Marathon racer, extreme swimmer, surfer, governing body administrator, and event director
14. Shannon Eckstein (Australia): Ironman lifesaver, paddler, kayaker, surf skier and ocean swimmer
15. Ian Emberson (Kauai, U.S.A.): Channel swimmer, original Ironman triathlete, ocean swimmer, event director, and triathlete
16. George Freeth (Hawai, U.S.A.): Ocean swimmer, surfer, paddler, and lifesaver organizer
17. Alfréd Hajós (Hungary): Olympic champion, professional racer, and architect
18. Trevor Hendy (Australia): Ironman lifesaver, paddler, kayaker, surf skier and ocean swimmer
19. Colin Hill (Great Britain): Ice swimmer, Channel swimmer, television commentator, and event director
20. Craig Hummer (U.S.A.): Competitive swimmer, kayaker, paddler, Ironman lifesaver, and Olympic television commentator
21. Ky Hurst (Australia): Ocean swimmer, two-time Olympian, body surfer extraordinaire, and champion life saver
22. Zhang Jian (China): Marathon swimmer, Channel swimmer, ice swimmer and university sports director
23. Captain Tim Johnson (U.S.A.): Marathon swimmer, author, professor, shark cage designer, analyst, and historian
24. Duke Kahanamoku (Hawaii): Ocean swimmer, Olympic champion, surfing legend and ambassador of aloha
25. Grant Kenny (Australia): Ironman lifesaver, paddler, kayaker, surf skier and ocean swimmer
26. Guy Leech (Australia): Ironman lifesaver, paddler, kayaker, surf skier and ocean swimmer
27. Luiz Eduardo Carneiro da Silva de Souza Lima (Brazil): Two-time Olympian, stand-up paddler, ocean swimming coach, pioneering ocean swimmer and promoter
28. Pádraig Mallon (Ireland): Marathon swimmer, Channel swimmer, ice swimmer, event organizer, promoter and triathlete
29. Vojislav Mijić (Serbia): Marathon swimmer, professional racer, solo pioneer and event organizer
30. Masayuki Moriya (Japan): Coach, channel swimmer, event organizer, clinician, and governing body administrator
31. Keo Nakama (Hawaii/U.S.A.): World champion, world record holder, pioneering ocean swimmer, event organizer and coach
32. Aaron Peirsol (U.S.A.): 7-time Olympic medalist, surfer, lifeguard, coach, and body surfer extraordinaire
33. Lewis Pugh (Great Britain): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, ocean advocate, ambassador, author, and speaker
34. Kevin Richards (South Africa): Competitive swimmer, triathlete, surf lifesaver, and coach
35. Philip Rush (New Zealand): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, professional racer, escort pilot, channel administrator, and fire fighter
36. Wayne Riddin (South Africa): Competitive swimmer, race director, aquapreneur, coach and promoter
37. Veljko Rogošić (Croatia): Two-time Olympic swimmer, professional racer, solo pioneer, swimming ambassador and marathon swimmer
38. Kenny Rust (Hawaii, U.S.A.): Ocean swimmer, lifeguard, aquapreneur, and event safety official
39. Ori Sela (Israel): Sea swimmer, coach, therapist, pioneer relay swimmer and aquapreneur
40. Borut Strel (Slovenia): Coach, swimmer, clinician, planner and logistic expert
41. Martin Strel (Slovenia): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, extreme adventurer, film protagonist, and camp clinician
42. Georgios-Ioannis Tsianos, M.D., Ph.D. (Greece): Research scientist, physician, expedition medic and Channel swimmer
43. Christof Wandratsch (Germany): Channel swimmer, professional racer, solo pioneer, ice swimming record holder and event promoter
44. Captain Matthew Webb (Great Britain): Channel swimmer, extreme adventurer, and professional racer
45. Johnny Weissmuller (U.S.A.): 4-time Olympic champion and movie star with a household name
46. Alick Wickham (Solomon Islands): Ocean swimmer, high diver, body surfing promoter, surfboard shaper, and freestyle ambassador
47. Patrick Winkler (Brazil): Competitive swimmer, ocean swimmer, stand-up paddler, race promoter and publisher of The Swim Channel Magazine
48. Jabez Wolffe (Great Britain): Channel aspirant and coach in the early generations of channel swimming
49. Doug Woodring (Hong Kong/U.S.A.): Marine environment ambassador, ecology advocate, aquapreneur, ocean event director, paddler, diver, and ocean swimmer
50. David Yudovin (U.S.A.): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, aquapreneur, benefactor and mariner

External links[edit]