SESI's Etienne Medeiros qualified for Pan Pacs en route to winning the women's 100 backstroke. CurrentPhoto via Satiro Sodre/SS Press
Thanks to D’Artagnan Dias for contributing to this report.
The 2014 Maria Lenk Trophy began on Monday in Sao Paolo, Brazil away from its historical home in Rio. This is Brazil’s National Championship meet and its final selector for this summer’s Pan Pac Championships.
In total on the meet’s first day, five swimmers made their qualifying standards for Pan Pacs. The first two came in prelims, where Nicolas Oliveira was a 1:47.45 in the men’s 200 free and Etiene Medeiros was a 1:00.77 in the 100 backstroke. Oliveira would later improve that time in finals, though Medeiros wouldn’t, and they’d be joined by four evening qualifiers.
In total, there were 17 swimmers pre-qualified based on the results of the Open Trophy in December and the BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series in Australia in January.
In the team battle, Corinthians got off to a good start
Women’s 200 Free – FINALS
1-Larissa Oliveira (PINHEIROS) 2:00:73
2-Manuella Lyrio (Minas) 2:00:94
3-Jessica Cavalheiro(SESI-SP) 2:01:56
While nobody hit the individual qualifying standard in this event, it was quite significant that the top four (the three above, plus Julia Volkmann in 2:01.86) would aggregate to be under the South American Record set at the 2004 Olympics, even without factoring in relay starts. For a Brazilian women’s group that has been a sore spot in lacking depth for the last decade, that’s an exciting development. At the grass roots level, at least, there has been some momentum toward improving this women’s group, and that appears to be working so far.
Men’s 200 Free – FINALS
1-Nicolas Oliveira (Minas) 1:47:17
2-João de Lucca (PINHEIROS) 1:49:01
3-João Amorim (Corinthians) 1:50:02
There were two qualifiers coming out of this race: Oliveira, who took half-a-second off of his prelims time, and Joao de Lucca, who is the two-time American collegiate champion. took 2nd in 1:49.01.
De Lucca has focused the last year on really improving the front-half of this 200 free, and that showed in the final. He was just a stroke behind Oliveira halfway, and though it cost him coming home (de Lucca actually had the slowest last 50 meters in the entire final, period), the front half took away the mystery by giving him a huge lead.
This was also the first win of the meet for the defending champions of Minas Tenis, as they opened up an early lead over Corinthians thanks to that win, plus four scorers in the B-Final.
Women’s 100 Backtstroke – FINALS
1-Etiene Medeiros(SESI-SP) 1:01:37
2-Natália de Luccas(Corinthians) 1:02:41 3-Florência Perrotti(GNU) 1:03:68
Etiene Medeiros, after a 1:00.77 in prelims, added a little bit in finals, but still cruised to over a full second win in the women’s 100 backstroke. That morning swim makes her the lone prelims qualifier after de Luccas just missed the cut (despite a big drop from prelims). Medeiros is looking for a sub-minute time this year, which would make her the first South American woman ever to do so, and based on the pattern of her good prelims swim then adding in finals, we can guess that she hasn’t used a full taper for this meet. That gives her a good shot at swimming a 59 at Pan Pacs.
The Brazilian men’s international group, which seems to have been stagnant really since Bruno Fratus made his breakthrough about four years ago, will get some new blood this summer. The lone swimmer under the qualifying time in this event was’ Fabio Santi, a 25-year old from the Pinheiros club.
This was a six-tenths of a second drop for Santi from last year’s Maria Lenk Trophy. Santi won’t be a physically imposing force this summer along the lines of Matt Grevers, as he’s got a very different build that Grevers. Specifically, he will give up almost a foot to the American backstroke at Pan Pacs, as Santi measures in at just 5’9″, but he is learning better-and-better how to use his power and turnover to get more speed out of a smaller frame.
He beat a couple of Brazilian heavyweights in this race, topping Thiago Pereira and Guilherme Guido on the podium.
Women’s 1500 Free – FINALS
1-Poliana Okimoto(Unisanta) 16:47:44
2-Ana Marcela Cunha(SESI-SP) 17:01:39
3-Bianca Avella(Corinthians) 17:04:35
Open water star Poliana Okimoto took an early swing at a pool race here, and without much challenge from the typical Argentine women’s distance stars won easily in 16:47.44.
Men’s 4×50 Free Relay
2-PINHEIROS 1:28:17 3-UNISANTA 1:29:37
Cesar Cielo, back now training in Brazil, opened up Minas’ winning relay in a 21.71 as the ywon this event for the first time in club history. Immediately after his race, Cielo was unhappy, saying that poor blocks cost him 2-or-3 tenths, and that he said there was much more to improve for the individual event. In later comments published by the CBDA (the Brazilian federation) though, Cielo backed down a little bit, saying that he thought he could have done better, but given the cold weather didn’t think it was such a bad time. Temperatures were rainy and in the mid 70’s during finals of the outdoor meet. Cielo was already qualified for Pan Pacs with his time from the BHP Super Sport Series, but that 21.71 still improved his marker by two-tenths. Bruno Fratus had the fastest split overall in 21.22 on a 2nd leg for Pinheiros, and Marcelo Chierighini continues to look off of his best early in 2014 with a 22.60 leadoff. He and Cielo were together at about 25 meters before Cielo ran away from the field late.
2-MINAS 1:40:56 3-SESI-SP 1:42:33
The women’s 200 free relay, the last A-Final of the meet, was the best race of the first day. Hungarian Katinka Hosszu opened up with a 24.89 leadoff for her adopted team Corinthians. That broke her own Hungarian Record of 25.19 in the event as she begins what is actually a relatively light meet by her standards.
But that wasn’t a leader on the leadoff. Gracielle Hermann led off for GNU with a 24.76, which tied the South American Record set by Arlene Semeco in 2009. Minas Tenis got a 24.98 leadoff from Inge Dekker to start their relay off.
By the time the anchors hit the water, this relay was fittingly down to the two powerhouse teams, with Minas in the center lane holding a .01 second lead over Corinthians on the outside.
The difference, though, was that Minas’ would-be anchor Femke Heemskerk was at home in the Netherlands with an undisclosed illness, whereas Corinthians’ anchor Jeanette Ottesen was very much present. Ottesen split a 24.04 on the last leg, the fastest of the entire event, to Minas’ 24.58 from Lorrane Ferreira, which meant Corinthians got the win.
They swam a 1:40.03, which is under the old South American Record. While it won’t go in any books as a record with two foreigners swimming, they still get record bonus points to push them well out into the team lead after day 1. Minas took 2nd in 1:40.56, and SESI was 3rd in 1:42.33
Hosszu will now have the entire day Tuesday to rest before going after the 400 IM on Wednesday. After her swim in the 50 free on this relay, be ready for an impressive result in that 400 IM, a world-leader is a safe bet, and maybe an outside chance at challenging a European or World Record.
1. Corinthians – 394 2. Pinheiros – 323 3. Fiat/Minas – 293 4. Sesi – 238 5. GNU – 182 6. UNISANTA – 150 7. Praia Clube – 60 8. Fluminese – 21 9. Flamengo – 12 T-10. NN SESI – 3 T-10. APANASC/PM SCARLOS – 3
Qualifiers After Day 1 (from Maria Lenk)
200m – Nicolas Oliveira – 1m47s17 200m – John Luccas – 1m48s30 100m Backstroke – Etienne Medeiros – 1m00s77 100m Backstroke – Fabio Santi – 54s32 50m freestyle – Graciele Hermann – 24s76 50m freestyle – Cesar Cielo – 21s71