Thiago Pereira, one of Brail’s greatest swimmers of all-time, is a medley specialist and four-time Olympian. In a swimming generation where Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte have dominated the medley events, Pereira has beaten both on the world stage. At the London games he beat the defending Olympic champion in the event, Phelps, to take the silver medal. Back in 2004, he beat Lochte to win the gold medal at the World Short Course Championships. Pereira is also the most decorated athlete in the history of the Pan American games with 23 medals and his 15 golds is the most for a Brazilian.
The Brazilian star has sponsors such as Speedo and P & G. Pereira is also greatly involved in the sport outside the pool. He is the Vice President of FINA Athletes Commission and a member of the Brazilian Olympic Committee and the Pan American Sports Oraganization.
Pereira has had stints of training in the United States. The first time was in 2005 where he moved to train in Florida, but soon returned to Belo Horizonte in Brazil where he trained at Minas Tenis Clube. In 2009 he moved to California to train under Dave Salo at the University of Southern California where he stayed for two years. In 2011, when he returned to Brazil, Pereira spent time at different clubs in Brazil but in 2015 returned to his first professional club, Minas Tenis Club.
Pereira learned to swim at the age of two after a near drowning sparked his mother to enrol him in to a swim school. By the age of 16, he was one of the best swimmers in Brazil and was chosen to swim at the 2002 South American Games where he won gold in the 200 meter breaststroke. A year later, he began his record setting campaign at the Pan American Games where he won his first medals, a silver and a bronze and broke the South American record in the 200 meter individual medley.
2004 Athens Olympic Games
In his first Olympic Games at the age of 18, Pereira made the final in the 200 meter medley where he finished fifth. He also swam the 400 meter medley, but his nerves got the better of him and he finished 17th overall.
2007 World Male Swimmer of the Year
Pereira was named the Swimming World “World Male Swimmer of the Year” after a busy year. At the World Championships his best finish was fourth place in the 200 meter medley. At the Pan American Games, his eight medals tied for the most medals won at a single Pan American Games. He won six gold medals, a silver and a bronze and broke the South American record in every event except the 200 meter breaststroke. He also had a great showing on the World Cup circuit to close out the year. During 2007, Pereira broke multiple South American records multiple times, including the 200 meter medley three times in three months.
2008 Beijing Olympic Games
At his second Olympics Pereira moved up one place in the 200 meter medley from 2004 to finish fourth. He also made the final in the 400 meter medley but after adding four seconds to his heat time he finished eighth in the final. Pereira also swam the 200 meter breaststroke, setting a new South American record in 2:11.40 but he wasn’t able to make the semi-final.
2009 FINA World Championships
Pereira had disrupted preparation for the World Championships in Rome after breaking his hand. But he managed to come away with a fourth place finish in the 200 meter medley and broke the South American record in the heats, semi-final and final. He was just 0.19 seconds away from the bronze medal. He also broke his own South American record in the 400 meter medley by more than two seconds, but his time of 4:08.86 wasn’t enough to make it on the podium.
2011 FINA World Championships
In Shanghai, Pereira finished sixth in the 200 meter medley and 18th in the 100 meter backstroke.
2012 London Olympic Games
It was third time lucky for Pereira when he won his first Olympic medal in his third Olympics. At 26 years old, he took on Phelps and Lochte in the 400 meter medley. Pereira took the silver behind Lochte and equalled the South American record of 4:08.56. Kosuke Hagino took the bronze while Phelps finished off the podium in fourth.
In the 200 meter medley it was Pereira’s turn to be left off the podium with another fourth place finish, the same position as Beijing. He was beaten in the final 25 meters of the race by Laszlo Cseh who took the bronze behind Phelps and Lochte.
2013 FINA World Championships
Pereira won his first World Championship medal in Barcelona after finishing third in the 200 meter medley in 1:56.30, just one hundredth away from the silver medal. Pereira surprisingly entered the 400 meter medley after initially deciding not to race the longer event. However he did and qualified for the final in eighth place, despite not training for the event. In the final he finished third to take his second bronze medal of the meet.
Mr. Pan – Best Athlete in Pan American Games History
At the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto Pereira won five medals to become the most decorated athlete in Pan American Games history with 23 medals, surpassing Cuban gymnast Erick Lopez. Pereira won gold as a member of the 4×200 meter freestyle relay and as a heat swimmer in the 4×100 meter freestyle and medley relays. He also finished with a silver in the 200 meter medley and bronze in the 200 meter breaststroke. In the 400 meter medley, Pereira was disqualified for touching with one hand on a breaststroke turn. He would have finished with another gold and the third consecutive in the event at the Games.
2015 FINA World Championships
A year out from a home Olympics, Pereira was in top form in Kazan. His silver medal in the 200 meter medley was his best result in a World Championships. He also finished 15th in the 4×200 meter freestyle relay.
2016 Rio Olympic Games
Pereira’s fourth Olympic Games were even more special because he would be racing in front of a home crowd in Rio. At 30 years old and as one of Brazil’s most loved athletes, there were big hopes for him in the 200 meter medley final. Pereira managed a seventh place in 1:58.02.