Blaise Vera Drops 19.7/43.8 Sprint Double as Pitt Wins Backyard Brawl


  • January 5, 2018
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Results
  • Scores
    • WOMEN: Pitt 197.5, West Virginia 102.5
    • MEN: Pitt 175, West Virginia 125

The Backyard Brawl, typically focused on the football rivalry between West Virginia and Pitt, is one of the oldest athletic rivalries in NCAA history. In fact, it’s a rivalry that has been brewing for over a century. The swim and dive programs from these two teams went to battle today in their own pool version of the Backyard Brawl.


Rachel Brown certainly pulled her weight for Pitt, sprinting to three wins in three different freestyle events. She posted a 22.96 in the 50, a 50.51 in the 100, and a 1:48.52 in the 200. She also led off Pitt’s A 400 free relay, which won at the conclusion of the meet.

Pitt relied further on Valerie Daigneault, their top backstroker. Daigneault ruled the 100 back (54.31) and the 200 back (1:57.39), then provided a 49.95 on Pitt’s B 400 free relay as they went 1-2 in that race.

Pitt’s depth ultimately proved insurmountable, but the Mountaineers got on the board with several wins. One of those wins came in the opening 200 medley relay, as WVU’s Julia Nilton split 22.66 and came back on Pitt, clipping them 1:44.24 to 1:44.26. Meanwhile, Emma Harris swept the breaststrokes (1:04.52/2:18.41), and Morgan Bullock pulled off wins in the 100 fly (55.43), 200 fly (2:00.58), and 200 IM (2:05.17).


On the men’s side, Blaise Vera had a batch of really impressive performances. He swept the sprint frees, going 19.71 in the 50 and 43.88 in the 100. Vera came into college from Mississippi as a 20-low sprinter, but didn’t improve in his freshman year and didn’t compete in the 2nd half of the season. Now, he’s gone sub-20 four times in late 2018, and this was just .05 off of his PR from the Ohio State Invite– it’s also just his fifth time under 20 seconds. In the 100, he wasn’t far off of his 43.18 best, and this is only his third time under 44 seconds.

Eben Vorster was a force for Pitt, too, winning twice. He swam a very strong 1:46.90 to take the 200 fly, and also posted a 1:37.73 in the 200 free. Pitt had three more double winners, with Aaron Sett claiming the 1000 (9:23.93) and the 500 (4:35.35), Armin Remenyi going 49.30 in the 100 fly and 1:49.55 in the 200 back, and Samy Helmbacher taking the 200 breast (2:01.89) and 400 IM (3:53.19).

For West Virginia, Trent Disibio was the lone individual winner with a 54.87 in the 100 breast. The Mountaineer were able to eke out the win in the 400 free relay (3:00.51). Notably, butterflier David Dixon did not compete. Dixon is one of the top 200 butterfliers in the country.

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3 years ago

The name, Blaise, just sounds like have to be FAST!

3 years ago

Last 5 backyard brawls on men’s side have been won by whoever is the home team, and none have been closer than 50 points. One of the more volatile rivalries in NCAA swimming

3 years ago

J. Anandre is doing work with those sprinters. Credit where credit is due

3 years ago

Dixon broke his arm

Reply to  Thatguy
3 years ago


Reply to  Superfan
3 years ago

Don’t know how but he was walking on deck in a cast

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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