IRVINE, Calif. -- Aaron Peirsol just sat there sipping on a bottle of water. He looked at the ground, at the television monitor to his left and at the pool in front of him. He didn't say a word. His face had no expression.
He already knew his time in the "B" final of the 200-meter backstroke wouldn't be good enough to qualify him for next year's world championships. And yet, Peirsol, the world-record holder in the event, couldn't leave the pool after his swim. Instead, he watched teammates Ryan Lochte and Tyler Clary go head to head in the "A final.
When Lochte finally beat Clary in a time of 1:54.12, breaking Peirsol's Pan Pac record from 2006, Peirsol stood up, briefly clapped and then left the pool.
"It's the way it is tonight," Peirsol said of watching the "A" final. "I would have liked to have been in that race, but tonight, with what I was doing, I wouldn't have been able to compete with those guys."
Peirsol won the "B" final, but his time of 1:56.67 was slower than his morning preliminary mark of 1:56.22. He admitted it just wasn't his day.
"The body was just unwilling," he said. "I did the best I could with what I had and all I can say is I gave it my all. It's not like I can say I could have, should have, would have."
This week's result combined with his times at nationals mean the 27-year-old Peirsol, a two-time World Champion and one-time Olympic gold medalist in the event, will not be able to defend his 2009 worlds title.
"C'est la vie," Peirsol said. "Sometimes in this sport, you have to step up on a particular day, and if you don't, you have to sit out for a bit. I've been fortunate enough to be on the other side of that for a while, so if it happens to me now, it's unfortunate. But I'm happy for the guys who made it. They swam well."