There’s an interesting pattern to Indiana star Blake Pieroni‘s postseason entries.
In all four years of his college career, Pieroni has swum the 200 IM at the Big Ten Championships, placing in the top 8 every year. But he will finish his collegiate career without ever swimming the event at NCAAs.
Per the NCAA psych sheets that dropped today, Pieroni is entered in the 50 free instead. He ranks 27th nationally in the IM compared to 53rd in the 50 free. However, as a longshot to score in either race, and with a full slate of relay swims ahead of him, the move seems to make sense from a perspective of keeping Pieroni fresh.
In general, that strategy has worked well for coach Ray Looze. Pieroni didn’t enter a third event in addition to his native 200 free and 100 free in his first two seasons. Last year he swam prelims of the 50 free, taking 23rd. But his relay splits have been spectacular – last year he led off the 800 free relay in 1:30.87, was 18.9 on the 200 free relay, 41.1 anchoring the 400 medley and 41.9 on the 400 free relay.
Assuming he swims prelims of all four of his usual relays, and that all of those relays make finals as they are seeded to, Pieroni could swim up to 12 times over the 4-day NCAA meet, 13 if he makes finals of the 50 free. With that heavy an event load, a 50 free probably makes more sense than a 200 IM from a cumulative fatigue standpoint.