Courtesy of Timothy Storer
Zuhayr Pigot, a former swimmer for the D1 UNC Tarheels and former member of the Suriname World Championship swimming team, made a big splash in his first NCAA competition since 2015.
Swimming at the first dual meet of the season for his new team, the Whittier Poets, an NCAA D3 team based in southern California, Pigot blasted a 49.09 in the 100 fly. That swim shoots him to the very top of the D3 rankings ahead of invitational season, and is good for a new Whittier team record. Since Whittier has still not published a 2017-18 roster, this swim may have come as a complete surprise to any observer, unless of course someone had been paying close attention to the 200 medley relay just a few events earlier, where Pigot split 21.75 in the butterfly leg.
Pigot’s best times are as follows (SCY/LCM):
50 free: 20.31 / 23.61
100 free: 47.12 / 51.59
100 fly: 47.33 / 53.86
100 back: 53.11 / 57.22
It’s difficult to overstate how big of a pickup this is for Whittier. The team has sent only one qualifier to NCAAs over the past several years, and the former team record in this event was a 50.02 from 2017. Further, Pigot’s November swim would have placed third at last year’s Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) championships, and his best time would have easily won. He even has the fastest time of all returning D3 swimmers in the event, beating out Bouke Edskes of MIT (47.41).
Pigot has had considerably more success in LCM, especially in recent years. In fact, his best time in the 100 fly came from an early season dual meet in 2015, suggesting he has never peaked in the SCY version of the event. Also, his LCM times in the 50/100 freestyles and 100 back suggest he could drop considerably in those events as well, though his SCY 50 free time would already score at NCAAs.
Since SCIAC teams typically forego fall invitational taper meets, we likely won’t see what Pigot can do until February. But even if he has an off year, he is likely to be in the mix for a D3 NCAA title.