Youth swimming: Union Twp.’s Lucas Piunti following in Blake Pieroni’s wake
By Dennis Churilla Post-Tribune correspondent March 20, 2013 10:04PM
Updated: April 22, 2013 12:29PM
There’s something going on in the water out in Wheeler.
Chesterton’s Blake Pieroni, arguably one of the top high school swimmers in the state, grew up swimming for Wheeler’s Union Township Swim Club, where he set most of the club’s records.
Now comes UTSC’s Lucas Piunti, who swept all six of his races at this weekend’s age group state swimming championships.
Piunti captured high-point honors for the meet with wins in the 200 IM, 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 50 butterfly, and 100 butterfly.
“Lucas has taken all of Pieroni’s records so far,” UTSC coach Adam Klimczak said. “They’re pretty similar swimmers.”
Piunti’s teammate and Klimczak’s daughter, Maisyn, did her part for the UTSC girls squad. The 10-year-old finished first in the 50 freestyle and 200 freestyle.
Piunti may or may not eventually follow Pieroni out to Chesterton, but the state champion Trojans will still be getting a nice infusion of talent from their own Duneland Swim Club. The 13-14 boys set state records in winning both the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays. Gary Kostbade anchored the relays and also won the 50 freestyle.
“It was pretty nice to break that freestyle relay record that was about 13 years old,” said Duneland coach Jim Voss. “Hopefully it will stand for a while. It’s nice that Gary and some of the other kids moving up to high school will have a chance to swim with those (Chesterton) 11th graders for a year, and a Hall of Fame coach (Kevin Kinel) on top of that.”
Other local winners were Crown Point’s Hannah Kukurugya in the 13-14 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle and a state record-setting 200 butterfly; Highland’s Ethan Churilla in the 11-12 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle; Michigan City’s Ali Hakim in the 11-12 50 backstroke and 100 backstroke; Michigan City’s Tim Schoof in the 100 butterfly and 200 butterfly; Valparaiso’s Bethany Gatlin in the 11-12 100 butterfly; and Crown Point’s Kelsi Artim in the 13-14 100 breaststroke.
The three-day event featured 1,421 swimmers in the 10-and-under, 11-12, and 13-14 age groups. Carmel Swim Club barely edged the Fishers Area Swim Team to continue their long string of team titles. Of the 67 swim clubs that scored points, Duneland finished in fifth place, Crown Point finished sixth, Michigan City finished 10th, Munster finished 11th, Union Township finished 21st, Valparaiso finished 24th and Highland finished 25th.
“I tell you, Northwest Indiana has some amazing swimmers down here,” said Crown Point coach John Krick. “Clubs like Highland, and Union Township, and Lansing and Lowell are really bringing a lot more good swimmers to this meet.”