Tips for a great NCAA from world record holder Aaron Peirsol

Josh Davis, 3-time Olympic Gold MedalIst

Josh Davis, 3-time Olympic Gold Medalist

Contributor Josh Davis is a 5-time Olympic medalist and the Managing Partner of the Mutual of Omaha BREAKout Swim Clinic.

Exactly 10 years ago, as a freshman, Aaron Peirsol became the first human to go under 1:40 in the 200 yard backstroke with a 1:39.16 and won Swimmer of the Meet at the NCAA championhips held in front of the home crowd in Austin, TX.  Aaron shared with me some thoughts on what the NCAA’s meant to him and how to make the most of what is arguable the fastest, most exciting swim meet on the planet. 

Josh: When you think of the NCAA swimming championships what comes to mind?

Aaron: “This 3 day meet is the most intense and exhausting swim meet I’ve ever been to.  Trying to manage your energy leading up to the meet, come out the first morning swinging, keeping that intensity up for all 6 sessions, not to mention the adrenaline of the relays and the rivalry of the team competition is tough.  It’s so emotionally draining, but I love that feeling of being in the trenches with your teammates and fighting together.”

Josh: You competed in two NCAA’s in 2003 and 2004 before you turned pro.  Is there a race at NCAA’s that stands out to you?

Aaron: “I’d have to say the first day of my freshman year in 2003.  I had already swam the 500 free twice and was getting ready to lead off the 400 medley relay.  Even though I was exhausted the combination of confident peace in my skills and the adrenaline rush of helping my Texas relay was like nothing I had felt before.  I relished that moment when I was able to get more out of my body than I ever thought possible.  We crushed the American and NCAA record, and, in a way, it helped me get ready for our Olympic and World Record 400 medley relays in 2004 and 2008.”

Josh: Texas has won 10 NCAA titles in the last 32 years.  There was a special run where Eddie Reese and Kris Kubik led the team to 3 in a row in 2000, 2001 and 2002 with the help of Ian Crocker and Brendan Hansen.  Unfortunately the team title eluded you for your 2 years.  Can you tell us about how you helped the team in 2010?

Olympic Champion, Josh Davis, interviews Olympic backstroke legend, Aaron Peirsol

Olympic Champion, Josh Davis, interviews Olympic backstroke legend, Aaron Peirsol

Aaron: “That was the one thing in my UT career that I didn’t get to do was win as a team.  Regardless, I loved training with Eddie and Kris and the Texas guys.  Over the next 7 years they helped me prepare for two more Olympic Games and break the American and World Records numerous times in the backstrokes.  But I have to say one my most rewarding experiences was in 2010. I was a volunteer manager for the team and loved serving in any way I could. I was cheering, helping keep the guys stay hydrated and fueled, giving some tips and encouragement, driving, delivering and even sleeping on the couch in the managers room.  Whatever I could to help I did it with a smile. It’s like you always say Josh, a lot of little things add up to make a big difference.  It was a great team effort and Texas won the title that year.   That win broke Texas’ longest spell of not winning a title and I’m very proud of how I got to be apart of that championship team.  I think that’s what makes NCAA’s so special is not just your individual success but how you can make your team better.  Like Eddie always reminded us, ‘Take care of yourself and take care of each other and good things will happen.'”

Josh: Aaron thanks for sharing your experiences with us and I look forward to racing you at a Mutual of Omaha BREAKout Swim Clinic soon 🙂

Aaron: “Thanks Josh.  Better bring your “A” game because I’m in good shape from playing in the ocean every day 🙂  Hook ’em Horns!”

If you would like Aaron, Ian Crocker, Brendan Hansen, Jason Lezak, Misty Hyman, Josh or any of the 30 legendary Olympians that do clinics with the Mutual of Omaha BREAKout! Swim Clinic to visit your team just go to

breakout-ad-160x600 swim swam 2013About Josh Davis

Josh Davis is a world-class motivational speaker, broadcaster and swim clinician. Josh reaches thousands of young swimmers as the embodiment of the sport’s values.

Silver 400m freestyle relay
Silver 800m freestyle relay

Gold 400m freestyle relay
Gold 800m freestyle relay
Gold 400m medley relay

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10 years ago

Eddie Reese consistentaly develops talent with the best of them, but above all else his swimmers always seem to be the nicest guys in the world of swimming.

Reply to  John
10 years ago

You cannot be a jerk in Austin and you cannot be a jerk on an Eddie Reese team. I hear stories on how Eddie recruits; about him visiting a recruit in and spending most of the time talking to his parents about hunting and fishing. The only thing Eddie told him was he could not eat pizza and pancakes if he comes to swim for him. How can you be a jerk on a team where coach uses his NCAA trophy as a door stopper? Our son’s dream is to swim for Eddie, but unfortunately, Eddie may not be coaching then.

Reply to  psychoDad
10 years ago

Austin is the best, but I’ve definitely seen more than a few jerks grace the pool decks at the Lee Joe Jamail Swim Center…plus my ex-wife is from Austin, so there goes your theory of no jerks in Austin.

10 years ago

Great interview. I was always impressed at how fast Aaron was at the 200/500 freestyles!! I would have loved for the training and scheduling of a shave and taper meet to line up with swimming the 400 free.

10 years ago

First HUMAN to go under 1:40 in the 200 yard backstroke, great interview and insight, but this made me laugh a little.

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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