IU heads to Miami (OH) for final fall contest


Sophomore Blake Pieroni leads IU in a cheer before the start of the Big Ten Championship meet Saturday evening at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center. Pieroni went on to win the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 42.27, followed closely by junior Anza Tavcar and sophomore Ali Khalafalla who both placed second and third, respectfully. Noble Guyon and Noble Guyon

While roughly three-quarters of the Hoosier swim team headed south for AT&T Winter National Championship, the rest of the squad will head to Oxford, Ohio for the Miami (OH) Invitational.

The meet provides IU with an opportunity to bolster its depth ahead of a competitive spring season as the key swimmers participating occupy the lower parts of the team’s depth chart. IU head swim Coach Ray Looze’s focus falls mostly on his swimmers’ times.

“Dropping their times to a point where they can help us at the Big Ten level, the conference level of our schedules,” Looze said. “So hopefully some kids will develop out of that group that’s at that meet that can add to our depth.”

Sophomore Drew Keenan entered the year with high hopes. He posted a few solid times last year, including personal bests in the 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard backstroke. However, Keenan had to put his hopes for the season on hold after he was diagnosed with mononucleosis, a debilitating sickness that drains a person’s energy and can cause fever and chills, right before school began.

“I just haven’t had a full, good week of training since school started or since we’ve started training,” Keenan said.

After a more than three-month bout with mono, Keenan sees a long road to recovery ahead of him. He said he understands he won’t be able to get the times he had a year ago.

Outside of junior Blake Pieroni and sophomore Lilly King, who will compete at the World Short Course Championships next week, this weekend will also mark the close of the fall season.

Pieroni stressed the team feels confident going into their final contests of the fall and into the spring season.

“We’ve started to recognize that we have the talent on our team to reach our goals,” Pieroni said. “I think swimming with the pros has always been a great thing for us and we’re kind of just believing in ourselves more.”

Following the last bit of competition this fall, the Hoosiers will have some time off before embarking on a training trip in Bermuda to prepare for the spring – which opens up against the eight-time defending Big Ten champion Michigan Wolverines.

Among teams the Hoosiers have their eyes on, the Wolverines are at the top.

“Goal-wise, at the end of the year we want to win Big Tens and take that title from Michigan,” Pieroni said. “I mean that would mean everything to the program.”

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