Blake Pieroni, Indiana Confident Heading into Big Tens

Indiana’s Blake Pieroni. Photo Courtesy:

By Dan D’Addona.

With four Olympians returning to Indiana, the Hoosiers had a boost of confidence entering the season.

But it wasn’t just the Olympians. The confidence spread throughout the team like wildfire and the Hoosiers quickly found themselves with the nation’s No. 1 ranking.

“I think we knew from the beginning that last year was kind of a learning year and that this year could be something really special if everyone stayed healthy,” said junior Blake Pieroni, an Olympic gold medalist in the 400 relay. “As the weeks rolled on, we realized how good we had become in a short time.

“The guys who went to Rio, we can tell how much more confidence we have. I think that is what has helped us more than anything.”

Now, the Hoosiers head into the Big Ten Championships as the favorite, holding the No. 4 ranking in the country. Becoming Big Ten champs is something the Hoosiers have been focused on all season.

“We talk about it a lot. Since the beginning of the season, we have thought it was a possibility,” Pieroni said.

While some teams could get caught up having the No. 1 ranking, the Hoosiers used it as motivation and remained realistic.

“That ranking was a bit optimistic,” Pieroni said. “We went undefeated this year, but Texas and Florida didn’t have all of their guys there. Championship season is a completely different thing.”

Pieroni has had plenty of championship moments in the past year, competing at the NCAA championships, then the Olympic trials, the Rio Olympics and the short-course world championships.

“It has been a crazy year,” he said. “The past 12 months have been an incredible ride. Everything we have experienced has taught me a lot about swimming.”

But there was nothing like claiming an Olympic gold medal, even as a swimmer in prelims.

“When those guys won, it was the greatest thing watching them swim. I had roomed with Caeleb (Dressel) and Ryan (Held) the previous few weeks,” he said. “It was incredible.”

Now Pieroni will be facing several swimmers he faced a the Olympic trials and in Rio at the NCAA Championships — something unique about the sport of college swimming.

“It is very special. My mood is definitely about the confidence. A lot of the guys who I will be racing will be there,” he said. “It is incredible.”

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Paul Delakis Downs Two Records, Waukesha South Takes Wisconsin Division I Team Title

Photo Courtesy: WIAA Tournaments (Twitter)

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Written by Benny Liang, Swimming World College Intern

The 2017 WIAA Boys Division I Swimming and Diving Championships took place Saturday, February 18th at the UW-Madison Natatorium. Paul DeLakis of Eau Claire Memorial North and Danny Larson of Wauwatosa West led their teams, taking multiple wins in their senior year.

After finishing in sixth place a year ago, the Sauk Prairie quartet of Desmon Sachtjen, Owen Doerre, Ayden Frey and Ben Chao surpassed all expectations when they won the 200 medley relay from lane one. Even with Madison West at the 100, Frey and Chao turned it on to pull the lead by a second in the back half. Their time of 1:34.04 marked a three-and-a-half second drop from last year. Madison West took second in 1:34.98 and defending champions Madison Memorial took third in 1:35.46.

In the 200 freestyle, three time runner-up Larson finally got his title. Taking the race out in 23.27, Larson consistently split 25 lows the rest of the way to finish in 1:38.95. The race between the second and fourth place finishers were very close; less than a tenth separated the trio. Madison Memorial senior Drake Horton took silver in 1:40.78, followed by Waukesha South junior John Acevedo in 1:40.80 and Middleton junior Michael Draves.

Delakis set the 200 IM state record in 2015 at 1:46.91. He elected to swim the 200 free instead his junior year and knocked nearly two seconds off the old state record of 1:38.02, replacing it with a time of 1:36.10. His senior year, DeLakis returned to take back his title in the IM. Facing off against Hudson sophomore Shane Blinkman, DeLakis went 1:46.18 to smash his own record. Blinkman finished in 1:47.12, followed by West Bend junior Bryan Fitzgerald in 1:51.83.

A triplet of juniors led the way in the splash-n-dash. Ryan Linnihan of Brookfield Central improved six places from his finish last year to take the title in 20.99. Lain Weaver of Madison West made a move in the second-to-last heat and improved six tenths on his seed time to take second in 21.10. Lucas Farrar of Arrowhead rounded out the top three in 21.22.

The 100 fly had another surprise performance come out of lane one. Alex Wowk, seeded seventh in 52.61, dropped over three seconds to take the event in 49.50. Last years runner-up Weaver outsplit Wowk on the second 50 but wasn’t able to catch him. Weaver finished in 49.75, with Green Bay freshman Kaiser Neverman in close pursuit. Neverman touched in 50.12.

Larson made it two-for-two in the 100 free, successfully defending his title. Boasting the fastest split coming home, Larson ran down Horton, Ben Redman of Eau Claire Memorial and 50 free champ Linnihan in the final stretch. Larson touched in 46.13, followed by Horton in 46.30, Redman in 46.31 and Linnihan in 46.38.

In the longest freestyle race of the night, 200 free bronze medalist Acevedo took top honors. Leading the race from start to finish, Acevedo dominated the field, posting the fastest split each 50 of the race. He finished in 4:30.12, just over a second shy of the state record time of 4:28.98 set in 2009 by Ryan Hansen. Two more juniors joined Acevedo on the podium; Draves and Fitzgerald finished in 4:33.52 and 4:34.90, respectively.

In the 200 free relay, it was DeLakis who gave Eau Claire Memorial their second win of the night. Entering the water over a second behind Waukesha South’s Jeremy Nagy, DeLakis dropped a 19.74 to outsplit Nagy by over two seconds. DeLakis’s sub-20 split makes him one of two swimmers in WIAA history to do so, the other being Derek Toomey of Verona who split 19.78 in 2010. Eau Claire won the race in 1:25.06. Waukesha South came in second with a time of 1:25.74, followed by Arrowhead in 1:26.39.

Hudson’s Blinkman won the 100 yard backstroke in record-breaking fashion. After taking lead at the 50 in 23.96, Blinkman hit the gas on the second 50, bringing it home in 24.88 to finish in a time of 48.84. Madison West sophomore Wes Jekel finished second in 50.26; 100 fly champ Wowk was the third and final swimmer to crack 51 seconds, finishing in 50.47.

In his final individual race, DeLakis stopped the clock in 54.08 to take the 100 breaststroke. That time was a new state record. Neenah senior Maxwell Boehnlein was second in 55.64 and Madison West sophomore Henry Miller (57.69) finished third.

DeLakis combined with Sam ChumasAndrew Vierbicher and Ben Redman to win the 400 freestyle relay in 3:07.63.

Waukesha South/Catholic Memorial totaled 246 points for the win while Madison Memorial was runner up with 216 and Eau Claire Memorial/North finished third with 189 points.

Full results here.

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5 Races to Watch at the Mountain West Swimming and Diving Championships

Photo Courtesy: Allison Corona/Boise State Athletics

The 2017 Mountain West women’s swimming and diving championships will take place on February 15-18 at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.

Last year, Nevada edged out Boise State 664-651 in the women’s meet. San Diego took third with 511 points.

1. 50 Free
Boise State seniors Brittany Aoyama and Katelyn Martin have the top two seeds, respectively. Broncos sophomore Allyson Kleinsorgen is tied for the third seed with Air Force’s Lydia Knutson. The top four seeds have all achieved the NCAA B standard in what should be an exciting race. Aoyama and Martin also hold the top two seed times in the 100 free.

2. 100 Back
Nine women have already swum to an NCAA B cut in the 100 back–the most of any event according to the psych sheet. This loaded field is led by Wyoming sophomore Isobel Ryan who took second in this event in 2016.

3. 200 Back
Just like the 100 back, the Mountain West Conference has tremendous depth in the longer backstroke race. Eight women have swum under the NCAA B standard while twelve have already broken the two-minute mark. The event is led by Fresno State sophomore Ugne Mazutaityte, who will look to repeat as champion.

4. 100 Fly
Boise State’s Aoyama is the top seed in this event by nearly two seconds. The champion in this event last year, the senior has already posted a time that’s over half a second faster than her winning time in 2016. She’ll aim to break conference and meet record but will face tough competition in San Jose State’s Brenna Bushey and San Diego State’s Summer Harrison.

5. 1650
Distance star Genevieve Miller holds the top seed in the mile and is the favorite to win her fourth-consecutive 1650 conference title. The Air Force senior already has an NCAA B cut in this event and will aim to break her own conference and meet record she set last year while finally going under the 16-minute barrier.

2017 Mountain West Conference Psych Sheet – Results

2016 Mountain West Championships: Full Results – Results

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Chris Webb Named Head Coach at T2 Aquatics

T2 Aquatics has hired Fort Collins Area Swim Team (FAST) Head Coach Chris Webb T2 Aquatics Chairman Kevin Erndl announced on Wednesday.

As T2 Aquatics Head Coach, Webb will oversee all aspects of T2 Aquatics programming, and his duties will also extend to the growing number of community-driven swim initiatives led by T2 Aquatics through the Naples Swim School.

“I could not be happier that Chris is joining us at T2. He has been extremely successful at the Club level and I’m confident he will enjoy continued success at T2,” said Erndl. Prior to joining T2 Aquatics, Webb coached at FAST, and in 4 years the team doubled in size, produced 10 National Junior Team Members, 30+ Olympic Trials Qualifiers, 25 Junior National Finalists, and achieved its first ever silver and gold medal club recognition status. In 2016, under Webb’s leadership, FAST finished 3rd overall at Summer Junior Nationals. From 2009-2012, Webb coached at SwimMAC Carolina for Olympic Head Coach David Marsh.

“I’m excited to join such a well run organization with unlimited upside,” said Webb. “The potential to make an impact in the Naples community and in the swimming world can’t be overstated. I’m honored to be at the helm of T2 aquatics and to work side by side with its passionate staff and membership.”

Chris was a member of the 1999 men’s swimming and diving Big East Championship swimming team at the University of Pittsburgh as an athlete, and is a Pittsburgh native.

Press release courtesy of T2 Aquatics.

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