Blake Pieroni Takes ‘Long Journey’ to Reach Third Olympic Team

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Blake Pieroni didn’t believe he could make another Olympic team – he just wanted to swim in an NFL stadium.

Then when he was already qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials at Lucas Oil Stadium, something happened.

Pieroni, 28, was racing at a smaller meet and threw down a time that made him start believing.

It took until the final day of the meet to be officially announced, but Pieroni qualified for his third Olympic Games as a relay alternate by finishing sixth in the 200 freestyle at Trials (1:46.09).

“It has been a very long journey,” Pieroni said. “I guess the journey began in April of 2023. It has been about 14 months of training and working full time. I have been working in Indy and commuting to Bloomington to swim. I am getting married in August. There is a lot going on and it is has been a long journey, but I am really happy I did this.

“Even if I didn’t make the team, I would be happy with my performances.”

Pieroni was a gold medalist on the 400 free relay in 2016 and 2020 and earned gold in the 400 medley relay in Tokyo.

After that, injuries took a toll. Once he was healthy and was able to find that same gear, things started on the right path.

That started with an earlier surprising moment.

“We had a meet in Indy at the Nat four weeks ago and I had a really good 200 freestyle and I was shocked at that point,” Blake Pieroni said. “If you had asked me before that Indy Spring Cup, I probably would have gone 1:48 low, but the taper came in and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ I think I would have had a good 100 freestyle too, if all of the 200 freestyles didn’t kill me. It really shocked me. I didn’t have any idea I would go that fast. It was a huge confidence builder.”

Pieroni, who works for a real estate company, had to wait until the final night to be named to the team.

“The set up to this meet is so important for the growth of the sport long-term. We need to have events like this to draw in people from outside the sport. That is the only way the sport is going to grow,” Blake Pieroni said. “These events are so important. I wanted to swim in this meet because it was in Lucas Oil Stadium.”

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