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Aaron Peirsol broke his own world record in the 100-meter backstroke Saturday night, swimming a surprising 53.17 seconds in the U.S. trials for this summer's world championships.

Peirsol, who won three Olympic gold medals last year, had a time of just under 55 seconds in the preliminaries. He said he wasn't thinking of lowering his mark of 53.45 set at the Athens Games.

"I think it's rare you surprise yourself like that," Peirsol said. "It's good that I still can.

"I've done a lot at my level, and to still surprise myself once in a while . . . it was interesting," the 21-year-old said, grinning, as he accepted congratulations from other swimmers at poolside. "I don't know what that was all about."

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