2018 Male South American Swimmer of the Year, Nicholas Santos, Brazil
38-year-old Nicholas Santos of Brazil ended 2018 with both a World Record and a World Championship, though not at the same time.
To start things off back in August at the 2018 Jose Finkel Trophy, Santos blasted a 22.17 to win the Brazilian national title in the 50 SCM fly, finishing just .09 off his own South American Record in the event. Santos also took 2nd in the 100 fly in 50.67, just behind Indiana Hoosier Vini Lanza, who touched in 50.17.
In October at the 2018 FINA World Cup stop in Budapest, Santos blasted a 21.75 in the 50 SCM butterfly to become the fastest man in history in the event, erasing Steffen Deibler‘s suited World Record from 2009, which had stood at 21.80. While breaking the World Record, Santos became only the 4th man ever to break the 21-seconds barrier in the 50 SCM fly, joining the likes of Deibler, and South Africans Roland Schoeman and Chad le Clos.
Santos’ World Record garnered him enough FINA points to leave Budapest as the men’s high-point victor. All told, Santos only swam at two World Cup stops–Eindhoven and Budapest–yet still scored an immense $49,500 for his two weekends of racing, and finished 7th overall in the 2018 FINA World Cup standings for money earned. For points earned, Santos finished 11th overall.
At the 2018 FINA World Championships in Hangzhou, Santos won gold in the 50 fly in 21.81, the 3rd-fastest swim all-time behind only his own World Record and Deibler’s suited 21.80. Though he just missed resetting his own World Record in China, Santos still walked away with the Championship Record in the race.
With no other individual events to swim, Santos was free to focus on the medley relays. In the 4 x 50 medley relay, Santos split a 22.02 helping Brazil capture the bronze medal behind Team USA (silver) and Russia (gold). In the 4 x 100 medley relay, Santos split an impressive 49.42 in the 100 fly (splitting 22.65 at the 50), making his the 3rd-fastest fly split in the field, though Brazil finished off the podium in 4th.
In no particular order:
- Fernando Scheffer, Brazil: At the 2018 Brazil Open just a couple weeks ago, 20-year-old Fernando Scheffer broke the South American Record in the 200 LCM freestyle, in a time of 1:45.51. The times stands as a mark of steady improvement for Scheffer, who swam a 1:46.12 at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo, touching the wall 4th and just missing the podium. Though he never got to stand on the podium in Japan, Scheffer did post the 2nd-fastest split of all swimmers in the 800 freestyle relay, where he threw down a massive 1:44.87. Scheffer also placed 6th in the 400 freestyle at Pan Pacs with a 3:50.55. At the 2018 FINA World Championships in Hangzhou, Scheffer helped Brazil to a new World Record in the 800 freestyle relay, contributing a 1:40.99 split. Scheffer also lowered his own South American Record in the 400 SCM freestyle in Hangzhou, touching the wall in a 3:39.10 in the prelims. In finals, Scheffer would swim a 3:39.40 for 8th place. Scheffer was also part of a strong Brazilian contingent at the 2018 Setti Colli Trophy in Rome. There, Scheffer tied teammate Luiz Melo for gold in the 200 free, touching in 1:46.84.
- Guilherme Costa, Brazil: 19-year-old Guilherme Costa had a huge summer. First, at the Setti Colli Trophy in Rome, Costa broke his own South American Record in the 800 LCM freestyle, posting a 7:50.92 to place 2nd behind 1500m 2016 Olympic gold medalist Gregorio Paltrenieri of Italy. Two days later, in the 1500, Costa placed 3rd in a time of 15:07.33, well off his own South American Record of 14:59.01, set in December of 2017. Later in August at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo, Costa placed 4th in the 800 freestyle, touching in a 7:51.67, and 5th in the 1500 in a 15:03.40. At the recent 2018 Brazil Open, Costa kept the momentum of Pan Pacs going, winning the 1500 freestyle in 15:05.45.