FINA Communication Department

Currently fifth in the overall FINA Swimming World Cup 2018 ranking, Blake Pieroni of the USA is one of the swimmers, slowly but steadily, making his way up to the top of the Series.

Improving his times legs after legs, Pieroni, 22, is competing for the first time in the Swimming World Series:

Admitting that he is having "more fun at this event than any other Series", Pierioni keep his focus in mind:

"My goal is to keep improving on my times, I can't control how other people swim, but I can control my attitude and my races. I've done my main races in yards hundreds of times but I've only done them in short-course a handful, so racing them more is a key for me."

Despite long-course swimming being the norm in the USA where Pieroni grew-up, the Olympic gold medallist (Rio 2016) admits he has in fact always been training in 25m-pool swimming pool.

"I've trained short course for most of my early swimming career, when I was in middle school and high school, we didn't have a 50m pool so we trained in 25m all summer and I think it prepared me for meets such as the World Cup and the World Swimming Championships (25m)"

Swimming stars in Budapest SWC in October 2018

After completing the first two Clusters and four meets in total, Pieroni agrees that there are many attractive aspects to the 25m events.

"This is a more opinionated answer but for me, only racing 50m-pool gets a bit arduous and I get tired of it. I think racing short-course keeps things fresh and it's just fun. What makes it fun and attractive is partially the use of underwater dolphin kicks."

"Since the Olympics are long-course, people have always thought of the 25m event as not being as important, but for me I like them just as much, maybe even more!"

"I think that short-course prize money should be closed to the World Championships (50m) prize-money. It would help develop the popularity of these events and I would highly recommend other swimmers participate in the FINA Swimming World Cup meets!", adds Pieroni.

Pieroni (USA) with Michael Andrew (USA) in Budapest SWC in October 2018

Amongst the perks of the World Cup, Pieroni happily mentions: "Meeting new people who share the same passion that I have for the sport of swimming has been awesome and I get to visit cool new places."

Both great freestylers, Pieroni considers Russia's Vladimir Morozov, provisionally atop of the overall ranking, his biggest rival at the World Cup.

"I think it is pretty clear that Vladimir Morozov is the biggest overall opponent in the World Cup. We swim similar events and he is always near the World Records, which is extremely impressive. I think he is a great competitor, I look up to him and racing at all these meets makes both of us better."

"This being the first time I have competed in a World Cup circuit, there were many swimmers that I did not know, but it was great to meet them and make friends with them. Now going to each meet is fun to catch up and see how they are doing."

With the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) just around the corner, to be held in Hangzhou (CHN) from December 11-16, Pieroni confirmed his attendance and how he uses the Swimming World Cup meets to actually fine-tune his preparation.

"I will be taking part in the FINA World championships in Hangzhou in December and the World Cup circuit has been the majority of my preparation for the meet."

"In my opinion, doing the race is the best practice a person can get, it's the most specific and I feel that you learn the most."

The FINA Swimming World Cup 2018 resumes on November 2-4 in Beijing, China, for the fifth leg of the season. The circuit will then move to Tokyo (JPN, Nov 8-10) and Singapore (SGP, Nov 15-17).

You can watch all meets LIVE on FINAtv and daily race reports are available on FINA website during competition.