Boys swimming: Chesterton’s Blake Pieroni even more confident
By Mike Clark Post-Tribune correspondent December 3, 2012 10:56PM
Blake Pieroni of Chesterton High School prepares to swim in the 200 yard freestyle Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012, at the IHSAA Boys State Swimming & Diving Championships at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis, Ind. (Jennifer Cecil / For the Post-Tribune)
Updated: January 5, 2013 6:22AM
It’s not that Blake Pieroni ever looked like an anxious rookie in the pool.
Projected as a major contributor when he arraived at Chesterton as a freshman two years ago, Pieroni didn’t disappoint. He finished second at state in the 200-yard freestyle and fourth in the 500 free.
Pieroni joined the ranks of the Trojans’ state champs last winter when he took first in the 100 free, and he was runner-up again in the 200 free.
As he heads into the second half of his prep career, Pieroni is looking and feeling more confident than ever.
“Yeah, I feel like I know how everything works,” he said. “I’m a little less nervous.”
Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel has noticed the change in Pieroni and in teammate Aaron Whitaker, another junior standout.
“Both Blake and Aaron had real good summers,” Kinel said. “Both did real well at junior nationals. To have a little more national experience made them grow up.”
Pieroni took fourth in the 200-meter free at USA Swimming’s Junior Nationals in 1 minute, 52.35 seconds, a time that beat the Olympic Trials cut. He also was ninth in the 100 free at 51.72.
Now his focus is on some team and individual hardware next February in Indianapolis. The Trojans were fourth at state a year ago and return Pieroni and four other qualifiers. They’re top-ranked this season and coming off a win over No. 3 Northridge Thanksgiving weekend.
“It’s still November,” Pieroni said a few days after that win. “(But) the team is great this year. I feel like every year we get closer and closer.”
Pieroni is pretty close right now to his season-ending time last year in the 100 free (44.85), swimming a 45.83 against Northridge. But he’s got bigger dreams than just repeating as state champ in that event: “I want to take the state record in the 100 free. Two firsts would be good.”
What his second individual event will be at state remains to be seen. Though he’s already placed at state in the 200 and 500 free, he could wind up doing something else, maybe the 200 individual medley. “Some of that is because Ethan (Whitaker, Aaron’s twin brother and a distance standout) is swimming so well,” Kinel said.
Pieroni, who also will fill key roles in a pair of relays for the Trojans, is confident the individual events will work themselves out. His focus on getting Chesterton its third state title and first since 2009.
“We definitely want a state championship more than anything,” Pieroni said. “Winning as an individual at state is good and all ... (but) the best part about swimming is the team. I don’t think there’s anything better.”