Ultra Swim Swimmer of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based swimmer who has proven themselves over the past month. As with any item of recognition, Swimmer of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one athlete whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a swimmer who was visibly outperforming other swimmers over the month, or one whose accomplishments slipped through the cracks among other high-profile swims. If your favorite athlete wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.
Pitt junior Blaise Vera has been the breakout sprinter of the NCAA’s fall season.
Vera wasn’t even an NCAA scorer last spring, placing 24th (100 free), 25th (50 free) and 28th (100 fly) in three individual swims at NCAAs. But this season, he ranks 1st (50 free) and 9th (100 free) in the NCAA based on some huge November swims.
Here’s a look at where Vera has been this month, compared to his top times from last season as a whole, and last fall season:
|Event||Career-Best||Fall 2018 Best||Fall 2019 Best|
Vera is already about a half-second ahead of where he was last year in both sprint freestyles. He started off the month in a standout dual meet with Notre Dame, going 19.53 and 43.15. That 50 free was a nation-leading time. Then at the end of November, he hit that 19.1/42.8/47.0 line at the Purdue Invite, keeping up his status as the national leader in the 50 free and shaving a tenth off his career-best in the event.
He’s already hit a time in the 50 that would have scored at NCAAs last year, and his 100 is now seven tenths from scoring range. The junior is in line for a huge sprint breakout, especially with 6 of the top 8 from last year’s NCAA 50 free final not returning due to graduation or turning pro.
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