arena Swim of the Week: Marcelo Chierighini Fires Off First Sub-48 100 Free Since 2019

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Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

Marcelo Chierighini has been a mainstay on Brazilian senior international teams for more than a decade, and at the age of 32, he’s made an impressive return and is back on some of the best form of his career.

Chierighini rocketed to a time of 47.86 in the men’s 100 freestyle during Thursday’s preliminary session at the Brazilian Swimming Championships, marking his first time under the 48-second threshold in four years.

After a long run of consistency as one of the world’s premier sprinters, Chierighini appeared to have been overtaken by the next crop of 100 freestylers.

After swimming on Brazil’s 400 free relay at the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics, Chierighini was a finalist in the 100 free individually at the 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019 World Championships in addition to the 2016 Olympic Games, where he was racing on home soil in Rio.

After placing sixth in Barcelona (2013), he was fifth in the event three straight times at Worlds (2015, 2017, 2019), and really reached a new level in 2019, producing the four fastest swims of his career, all under 48 seconds, with his quickest coming at the Maria Lenk Trophy in 47.68.

He hit three more 47s at the World Championships in Gwangju, ultimately placing fifth in 47.93 (after going 47.76 in the semis, which would’ve won bronze), but after that, his consistent run was disrupted.

After turning 30 in January 2021, Chierighini failed to qualify individually for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, competing as a relay-only swimmer, and then last year, after finishing in the top six of the 100 free at every World Championships dating back to 2013, he was 26th in Budapest.

But Chierighini revitalized things on Thursday, putting up a time of 47.86 in the prelims in Brazil for his third-fastest swim ever and his only sub-48 performance outside of 2019.

Chierighini’s Fastest 100 Free Performances

  1. 47.68 – 2019 Maria Lenk Trophy
  2. 47.76 – 2019 World Championships (semi-finals)
  3. 47.86 – 2023 Brazilian Championships (prelims)
  4. 47.93 – 2019 World Championships
  5. 47.95 – 2019 World Championships (prelims)
  6. 48.09 – 2019 Pan American Games
  7. 48.10 – 2019 World Championships (relay lead-off)
  8. 48.11 – 2013 Maria Lenk Trophy
  9. 48.11 – 2013 World Championships (semi-finals)
  10. 48.11 – 2017 World Championships
  11. 48.11 – 2019 Maria Lenk Trophy (prelims)

In the final, Chierighini placed second to up-and-coming talent Gui Caribe (48.11) in a time of 48.14, booking his ticket to the 2023 World Championships.

Now having cracked the top eight in the world rankings, Chierighini will take another run at an individual final this summer in Fukuoka, and he also figures to spearhead a Brazilian 400 free relay that has a chance to return to the podium after their breakout silver medal performance in 2017.

Led by Caribe, the entire ‘A’ final of the 100 free at the Brazilian Championships was under 49 seconds, with Victor Guimares Alcara (48.56) and Felipe Ribeiro Souza (48.70) rounding out the top four. In addition to that, Breno Correia, who was seventh in 48.84, joined Chierighini (47.92) with a sub-48 split on Pinheiros’ relay earlier in the competition, anchoring in 47.88.

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About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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