2017 SOUTH AMERICAN MALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: BRUNO FRATUS
28-year-old Brazilian teamrunner Bruno Fratus started off 2017 in a rough way. Coming off a disappointing medal-less 2016 Olympics for the Brazilian team, Pinheiros, Fratus’s club, dismissed the double Olympic finalist, 5-time Pan Am Games medalist, and 2015 World Championships bronze medalist, citing his age.
His dismissal was part of an onslaught of Brazilian clubs dropping swimmers due to their age. Other Brazilian swimmers who were dismissed from
Not one to give up, Fratus moved to Clube Internacional de Regatas de Santos, splitting his time between there and Auburn in 2017.
Fratus stuck it to Pinheiros on the very first night of the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest, teaming up with fellow veterans Cesar Cielo (30) and Marcelo Chierighini (26) and the young Gabriel Santos (21) for a silver medal and a new South American record 3:10.34, coming in behind only the Americans.
Fratus himself swam the anchor leg, putting up the second-fastest split of the field, a 41.18. He outsplit fellow anchor Nathan Adrian.
Later on in the meet, Fratus picked up another silver medal and South American record. This time, he grabbed was the runner-up in the 50 free behind only Caeleb Dressel with 21.27. The packed 50 free field included Vlad Morozov, Ben Proud, and Fratus’s countryman and world record holder Cielo.
Post-Budapest, Fratus outswam 2016 Olympic Champ Anthony Ervin in the 50 free at the shootout-style Raia Rapida meet in October to help lead Team Brazil to victory.
Moving forward into 2018, Fratus will be training in Coral Springs, Florida with his wife Michelle Lenhardt.
In no particular order
- Marcelo Chierighini: Chierighini was a major relay player for the Brazilians in Budapest, especially in the South American record, silver medal 400 free relay. In that race, he put up a 46.85 anchor split. As far as we can tell, his swam was the third-fastest split in history in a textile jammer, and the tenth-fastest overall. Chierighini also tied for fifth overall in the Worlds final of the individual 100 free.
- Nicholas Santos: In Budapest, Santos scored another point for the older, veteran Brazilian swimmers in their battle against country’s club teams’ dismissals by becoming the oldest world championships medalist in history. Santos, 10 years older than any other swimmer in the field, went 22.79 for world championships silver in the 50 fly. He was even faster in May, setting the South American record in the 50 fly at the Maria Lenk trophy with 22.61.
- João Gomes Jr.: Gomes was one of Brazil’s many 50-stroke success stories in Budapest this summer, finishing second behind the great Adam Peaty to become the second-fastest 50
breaststroker in history with a South American (and Americas) record of 26.52. This time earned him world championships silver ahead of South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh, the former #2 all-time swimmer.
- Guilherme Costa: The nineteen-year-old has spent 2017 making his mark on Brazilian distance swimming in a big way. Over the course of the year, Costa broke the South American 1500 LCM freestyle record four times, culminating with a 14:59.01 in December to become the first Brazilian man under 15:00. In November, Costa also scored the 800 LCM free South American record, undercutting the old 2009 mark with 7:56.29. Costa will be one to watch in the coming year, especially since he is a distance swimmer coming out of a sprint-heavy pool swimming nation.