Matheus Santana is a Brazilian freestyle specialist and 2016 Olympian. The Rio de Janeiro native burst on to the international scene in 2014 after breaking the 100 meter freestyle Junior World Record four times during the year. The first two times came at the Maria Lenk Trophy, then at the Brazilian national championships and finally en-route to winning the gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
His path to international success has been difficult. At eight years old Santana was diagnosed with diabetes and his family found this difficult to come to terms with. Despite Santana and his family finding ways to control the condition, he was released from the 2013 FINA World Junior championships by the Brazil national team because at that time his diabetes posed a higher risk to his health. But being held back from the competition only helped to make him more determined.
At the end of 2016, Santana announced he would move from his club Unisanta in Brazil to go Stateside to train under the 2016 U.S. Women’s Head Coach, David Marsh at SwimMAC in Charlotte, North Carolina.
2014 was a busy but golden year for the Brazilian international newcomer, Santana. His first stop was at the South American Games in Chile where he claimed golds in the 100 meter freestyle, 4×100 meter freestyle relay and 4×100 meter medley relay, breaking the meet record in all three. At the Maria Lenk Trophy, Santana broke the Junior World Record in the heats and the finals.
At the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, Santana won gold in his signature 100 meter freestyle, breaking his own Junior World Record again. He also won silver medals in the 4×100 meter mixed freestyle relay and the 50 meter freestyle.
2015 FINA World Championships
At his first World Championships, Santana just missed out on a podium spot with his teammates Marcelo Chierighini, Bruno Fratus and Joao de Lucca in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay. He also just missed out on a place in the 100 meter freestyle final after finishing 9th in the semi final.
2016 Rio Olympic Games
Santana made his Olympic debut right outside his front door in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro. He swam in the heats of the 4×100 meter freestyle relay, in which his teammates went on to finish 5th in the final.