Chesterton Tribune



Blake Pieroni prelim swim leads to Olympic Gold

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Chesterton High grad Blake Pieroni swam his way smack dab into the world’s biggest event.

The Indiana University sophomore swam the third leg of the men’s 4x100 relay Sunday afternoon as the USA finished with the second-fastest time in the prelims (3:12.38).

“Pieroni is the key. He did his job,” NBC’s Rowdy Gaines said during the telecast.

Pieroni teamed with Jimmy Feigen, Ryan Held and Anthony Ervin to put the team into Sunday night’s Finals.

“You can almost hear the big sigh of relief from USA Swimming that those four guys swam great,” Gaines continued.

From there, the quartet of Caeleb Dressel, Michael Phelps, Held and Nathan Adrian took care of business to bring the USA, and Pieroni, a gold medal in 3:09.92.

Pieroni’s life has taken on plenty of first’s since qualifying for Team USA in Omaha earlier this summer. Training trips have included stops in Atlanta and San Antonio before loading up and heading to Rio.

“I’m a little nervous, but people who are not nervous swimming in their first Olympic Games are crazy,” Pieroni said by text message from Brazil. “It’s good to be a little nervous. (Team USA) Coach (Bob) Bowman refers to it as ‘controllable fear’ and that it is a good thing. It is energy that we can use toward our races, as long as we can control it. It gives you equal respect for the competitors and gives a heightened sense of awareness.”

Once there, Pieroni and his teammates put on their opening ceremony outfits, but elected to be among the 30 million viewers watching on TV as athletes paraded into Maracana Stadium.

Pieroni, along with teammates Feigan, Held and Ervin, stayed back in the rooms in the Olympic Village to rest just 48 hours before the biggest swim of their lives.

“The process is awesome,” Pieroni said. “The coolest part has been realizing that now instead of grinding and trying to beat each other as individuals, now we are unified teammates that grind and race together for our country. Being around all the other Olympians for the past weeks has made me feel more like an Olympian. Just doing everything together and being able to spend time together outside of the pool has made me feel like an Olympian.”

After watching his teammates grab a gold medal Sunday night, Pieroni will spend the rest of the Olympics as a spectator and enjoying time with his family.

“I can’t compare the games to anything,” Pieroni said. “I have never seen or heard of a place where so many athletes can compete above politics and global situations and represent their countries in sport. It’s pretty unique and pure.”


Posted 8/8/2016





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