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Hoosiers have their first gold medals in Tokyo

Apple, Pieroni are the first IU athletes to take the medal stand at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Swimming - Olympics: Day 3
Caeleb Dressel, Blake Pieroni, Bowen Becker and Zach Apple of United States celebrates their gold medals in the Men’s 4x100m freestyle relay on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 26, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images

IU men’s swimming, long one of the most successful athletic programs in Bloomington, has produced two more gold medalists.

Former Indiana All-Americans Zach Apple and Blake Pieroni claimed gold for the United States on Sunday night in the 400-meter freestyle relay, giving the Hoosiers their first medals of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

In contributing to the victory, Pieroni joined some elite company in the annals of IU history. He and Mark Spitz (1969, 1972) are the only Hoosiers to repeat as Olympic champions in the event in back-to-back games. The race also marked the first time since 1972 (Spitz, John Murphy) that a pair of IU athletes teamed to win gold in the 400m freestyle relay.

Pieroni was second in the water for the Americans, helping the U.S. hold its lead with a split of 47.58. Apple carried the team to the finish, turning in a strong anchor leg of 46.69 to secure the gold. The winning time of 3:08.97 marked the fastest time in the event since the United States took gold in 2008 at Beijing.

For IU, another medal could soon be on the way. Lilly King will defend her Rio gold in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke final on Monday at 10:17 p.m. Eastern. King will be seeded second after touching the wall just after South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker in 1:05.40 during the semifinals.