Blaise Vera Posts Nation-Leading 19.53 But Notre Dame Downs Pitt

by Robert Gibbs 3

November 12th, 2019 ACC, College, News, Previews & Recaps

Pitt vs. Notre Dame

  • Friday, 11/8-Saturday, 11/9
  • SCY
  • Trees Pool, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Dual Meet Format
  • Full Results
  • Scores
    • Women: Notre Dame – 223, Pittsburgh – 125
    • Men: Notre Dame – 222, Pittsburgh – 130

Women’s Recap

The Fighting Irish toppled the Panthers by a score of 223-125, winning every swimming swimming event except one.

Freshman Colleen Gillilan continued to come up big for Notre Dame, winning four individual events over the course of the two-day meet: the 100 fly (53.19), 100 breast (1:01.33), 200 IM (2:00.93), and 200 breast (2:15.65).

Luciana Thomas also earned two individual wins for the Irish, first winning the 500 free in 4:54.64, then taking the 400 IM in 4:19.52.

Pitt didn’t win a single swimming event on the the first day, but did get a win from Valerie Daigneault early on the second day, as she took the 200 free in 1:51.31. Ignoring exhibitioned results, that would be the only win in the pool for the Panthers, although they also got a win in the platform diving event courtesy of Amy Read.

Men’s Recap

Pitt’s Blaise Vera lit up the pool, but the speedster’s efforts weren’t enough to top a deep Notre Dame team, as the Fighting Irish men won by nearly the exact score as did the women’s, despite Pitt men taking more events their than female counterparts.

Vera got things rolling Friday afternoon by blasting a 19.53 leading off Pitt’s 200 free relay, a time that held up through the weekend as the fastest time in the nation. That’s his fastest time outside of ACCs or NCAAs, and almost 0.7s faster than he was against Notre Dame last November.  He also won the 50 free and 100 free in 19.75/43.30, anchored Pitt’s medley relay in 42.40 anchor, and led off the 400 free relay in 43.15, the 2nd-fastest mark in the nation behind Daniel Krueger’s 43.03.

Cooper Van Der Laan swept the breaststrokes for the Panthers, going 54.67/2:00.49, as the Pitt men ended up winning a total of 7 events.

Once again, distance ace Zach Yeadon shone bright for the Fighting Irish, even flashing a bit of speed. On Friday, he led a Notre Dame sweep of the top four spots in the 500 free, touching in 4:19.61 (#3 time in the nation), with freshman Jack Hoagland taking 2nd in 4:23.80 (#10).

The distance duo went finish 1-2 again in the 1000 free on Saturday, with Yeadon winning in 9:02.42 and Hoagland taking 2nd in 9:11.78. What might have been even more impressive, however, is that after a pretty short turnaround, Yeadon jumped back in the water to anchor the 400 free relay. His 44.21 leg was the fastest on either team except for Vera’s leadoff, and it proved decisive, as he brought Notre Dame from behind to win, 2:58.01 to 2:58.07.

Sadler McKeen also earned two individual event wins for Notre Dame, leading another 1-4 sweep in the 200 back with a 1:57.66 and winning the 200 free in 1:37.69.

Notre Dame Release

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Building off Day 1 success at Pittsburgh, Notre Dame soundly defeated the Panthers on the final day of competition. As usual, the Irish capitalized off of individual wins, posting 21 individual wins from 12 different swimmers and three divers on the weekend. Notre Dame also improved relay finishes during the weekend, winning six of eight relay events.


  • Men: Notre Dame – 222, Pittsburgh – 130
  • Women: Notre Dame – 223, Pittsburgh – 125

After Day 1, the Irish led the Panthers 121-46 (women) and 112-55 (men).

Notre Dame began Day 2 strong, with wins in the men’s and women’s 200 medley relay. The women’s team of Carly Quast, Coleen Gillilan, Erin Sheehan and Rachel Wittmer posted a 1:42.24, while the men’s team of Jack Montesi, Matt Limbacher, Zach Smith and Aaron Schultz marked down a 1:29.46.

From there, the Irish kept up the momentum, with Sadler McKeen touching the wall first in the 200 Free (1:37.69), and Gillilan doing the same in the women’s 200 IM (2:00.93). Kelly Jacob sprinted to a win in the women’s 50 Free (23.74), while perennial Irish standout Abbie Dolan raced to a victory in the women’s 200 Fly (1:59.87).

Quast kept it going for the Notre Dame women, marking down a 54.83 in the women’s 100 Back, good for first place. Jack Montesi answered on the men’s side with a win in the 100 Back of his own (48.60).

Gillilan put up her fourth individual win of the weekend (sixth overall) in the 200 Breast with a 2:15.65, while distance veteran Zach Yeadon raced to a win in the men’s 1000 Free. He was followed in the standings by Jack Hoagland, Will Barao and Luke Thornbrue, continuing their success in the distance events from last week.

Immediately following Yeadon’s win in the 1000 Free, he got back in the pool to swim the last leg of Notre Dame’s 400 Free Relay, teaming up with McKeen, Aaron Schultz and Topher Stensby to post a win (2:58.01).

“We were able to spread the wealth around at Pittsburgh, but also challenge some of our athletes with some interesting doubles,” said Mike Litzinger, head swim and dive coach.

“[A win] that stands out are Zach Yeadon’s back-to-back wins in the 1000 Free and swimming the anchor on the 400 Free Relay for the win,” he noted, referencing the immediate turnaround for Yeadon. “That is a tough one, and he handled it well.”

The Irish saw success during the weekend in relay competition, winning six of eight relay events over the extended two-day meet.

“In this event schedule, we are able to swim multiple relays, and it gives us some flexibility to see other athletes’ performances,” Litzinger explained. “Our relays are still a work in progress, and we are looking to point them toward a peak performance at the end of the year.”

On the diving end, Irish athletes won three of four events, beginning the weekend with David Petrison’s win (255.75) in the men’s platform competition. On Saturday, Erin Isola (293.78) and Austin Flaute (309.15) posted wins in the 1-meter diving competitions.

“I am very pleased with how the whole team and the divers took advantage of this opportunity to compete,” Litzinger expressed. “Now, we can dial in on the Ohio State Invite and close out the semester.”

The Irish will have two weeks to prepare before traveling to the Ohio State Invitational Saturday, Nov. 21.

Pitt Release

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh swimming & diving team won five swimming races and posted numerous impressive performances on Saturday in ACC dual-meet action against Notre Dame, but the Panthers fell to the Fighting Irish in both meets.

No. 18 Notre Dame topped the Pitt men’s team by a score of 222-130, while the No. 23 Fighting Irish left Pittsburgh with a 223-125 women’s victory over the Panthers.

Saturday’s action produced several thrilling events that came down to the final moment, with the Panthers winning some of those races during the swimming portion of the day’s competition.

“The final result obviously wasn’t what we wanted,” Pitt head coach John Hargissaid. “But we were better today than we were yesterday. There was a lot of energy in the building, which we have to thank the alumni and parents for that. We’ll get back to work and continue to improve and get healthy heading into our fall invitational at Purdue in a couple weeks.”

Pitt Swimming Fans

Newcomer Cooper van der Laan and junior Blaise Vera each took an individual event title against the Fighting Irish for the second time in as many days. Vera won the 50-yard freestyle with a very strong time of 19.75 seconds, while van der Laan again dominated in the breaststroke, winning the 200-yard heat with a time of 2:00.49.

Senior Samy Helmbacher crushed the competition in the 200-yard individual medley in 1:49.76. And senior Valerie Daigneault emerged with a women’s swimming victory in the 200-yard freestyle Saturday, finishing her heat in a flurry to place first with a time of 1:51.31.

The Panthers also saw some impressive efforts by underclassmen. Freshman Jerry Chen more than held his own in the 200-yard breaststroke by competing for the victory before finishing in 2:04.11, while sophomores Kailyn Swantek and Madison Nalls each took second in freestyle events with strong swims.

Pitt Event Winners vs. Notre Dame
Cooper van der Laan, 100 Breast, 54.67; 200 Breast, 2:00.49
Blaise Vera, 50 Free, 19.75; 100 Free, 43.30
Valerie Daigneault, 200 Free, 1:51.31
Samy Helmbacher, 200 IM, 1:49.76
Amy Read, Platform Diving, 253.38
Eben Vorster, 200 Fly, 1:48.48
Men’s 200 Free Relay, 1:20.56

The Panthers are off next weekend before they head to the Purdue Invitational from Nov. 21-23 for three days of fast and competitive fall invitational action in West Lafayette, Ind.

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3 years ago

Blaising fast

3 years ago

Blaise is a dog. Woof woof.

3 years ago

Pitt has done a sneaky good job of developing their sprinters recently, Vera is phenomenal! Definitely a dark horse for both top 3 in both events this year. Hope to see them keep rising in the ACC!

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