Boys swimming | state preview

Chesterton's Pieroni aiming for individual, team swim titles

2012-02-22T23:45:00Z 2014-02-26T16:42:22Z Chesterton's Pieroni aiming for individual, team swim titlesBy Jim Hunsley jim.hunsley@nwi.com, (219) 548-4356 nwitimes.com
February 22, 2012 11:45 pm  • 

Blake Pieroni wasn't in attendance for either of Chesterton's state titles in 2008 and 2009, but the sophomore plans to be more than a spectator for a third crown.

He hopes it takes place this weekend at the IHSAA finals in Indianapolis.

"The goal is a state crown," Pieroni said. "I don't believe there's such a thing as setting a bar too high. We're capable of doing it."

Pieroni did say at last Saturday's LaPorte Sectional that last year's fourth-place team finish at state was "unacceptable."

"We weren't really sure about anything last year," he said. "This year, we're going to give it our best shot."

Pieroni will play a large role in achieving this task. He entered the postseason ranked No. 1 in the state in the 200 free and second in the 100.

For Friday's prelims, he's seeded third in the 200 (1 minute, 41.81 seconds) and fifth in the 100 (46.51).

"I feel good, since I haven't shaved or suited," said Pieroni, who was second in the 200 and fourth in the 500 last year at state. "I feel like others might have already done that.

"Our sectional isn't necessarily the fastest, so I didn't have to go all out to qualify."

Pieroni also hasn't lost a prep race in either the 100 or 200 this season.

"I really want to keep that streak going," he said.

It's just all a part of both Pieroni's and the team's increased expectations.

"We're not going down to finish fourth," Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel said. "I think Blake is pretty realistic with his goals. If you're satisfied, you're never going to break that barrier."

Pieroni will also be buoyed by his offseason experience. He competed at the U.S. Junior Nationals last summer at the University of Stanford. He also worked with Team Indiana at the Olympic Training Center for a week-long altitude training camp.

This weekend, the experiences at Stanford might pay off even more for Pieroni.

"Swimming against guys who are faster helps. That gives me a sense of elite swimming," Pieroni said. "I'm able to change my nerves into energy."

What also helps reduce nerves is having teammates like classmates Aaron and Ethan Whitaker along with Jack Wallar. The twins each have two top-11 seeds, while Wallar is seeded 13th in the 100 breast.

"That's the biggest thing," Pieroni said. "We know we can rely on one another."

Pieroni might also rely on the Whitakers in another way. The twins watched their older brother Kyle help the Trojans win both state crowns.

"They know what it's like and how the team swam," Pieroni said. "They have a lead on how to do this."

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