With contributions from D’Artagnan Dias
Earlier this month, Brazil hosted the 2015 Brazil Open in Palhoca, Santa Catarina. The meet was the first of two Olympic-qualifying meets for the Brazilian swimmers. The other Olympic-qualifying meet, the Maria Lenk Trophy, will take place in April.
Brazil will select its team based solely on FINA’s rules for Olympic rosters, rather than adding extra time standards, as the nation has done in the past. Brazil will bring up to two swimmers per event who have hit FINA’s “A” standard. If no swimmer hits the “A” time, they will bring one swimmer with a “B” time. The Brazilian Swimming Federation also has a framework in place to add extra relay swimmers and to adjust the roster as it sees fit to compose the best roster for the Olympics the nation will host next summer. You can follow this link for a refresher on Brazil’s Olympic selection criteria and this link for a bit more analysis.
23 swimmers hit Olympic ‘A’ cuts during this meet, but not all of them can be confident in their spot on the team.
400 IM/200 IM: Joanna Maranhao
Joanna Maranhao clocked a 4:40.78 in prelims of the 400 IM to come in nearly ten seconds ahead of any other female swimmer at the meet and 2.5 seconds ahead of the ‘A’ standard. The swim placed her at 12th in the world this season.
After that performance, Maranhao has possibly the safest bet at the Olympic team out of all the swimmers who swam at the Brazil Open. It would be a huge deal for another Brazilian female swimmer to hit under 4:50, and it’s hard to fathom that two swimmers could jump ahead to edge Maranhao out of her spot.
In the 200 IM, Maranhao grabbed another ‘A’ cut by hitting 2:14.04, two and a half seconds ahead of the next competitor.
This will be Maranhao’s fourth Olympics. Back in Athens at the age of 17, she achieved her highest Olympic finishes: 5th in the 400 IM and 11th in the 200 IM.
50 Free: Etiene Medeiros, Graciele Herrmann
Both Etiene Medeiros and Graciele Herrmann took down the ‘A’ standard of 25.28 in the 50 free. Medeiros, the South American record-holder in this event, won the race in 24.71, followed by Herrmann in 24.92.
Lorrane Ferreira split a 25.28 as the relay lead-off of the 200m freestyle relay, tying the ‘A’ standard. Unfortunately, relay lead-off splits only count if the swimmer doesn’t swim the event individually and if specially approved by FINA. Since Ferreira swam in the individual event and missed the cut, her relay split is void. However, she still has a chance if she can edge out either swimmer at Maria Lenk.
100 Free: Etiene Medeiros
Just a session after a disappointing 100 back where Etiene Medeiros clocked the 11th fastest time in the world this season but missed the ‘A’ cut, she came back to set a new South American record in the 100 free with 54.26 in prelims.
Until just recently, Medeiros was known mostly as a backstroke swimmer, although she may change up her training regiment now going into Rio. Most likely, she will still taper to swim the Maria Lenk meet to try and hit the 100 back qualifying time.
200 Free: Manuella Lyrio
In finals of the 200 free, Manuella Lyrio dropped nearly a second from her prelims swim to hit 1:58.43, half a second under the ‘A’ standard, and a second and a half ahead of the nearest competitor. Lyrio holds the South American record in this event, a 1:58.03.
The Brazilian men’s field is quite a bit more crowded, meaning that many of the men’s spots are even less secure than the women’s. It’s also worth noting that double event world record holder Cesar Cielo is missing from this list. After finishing 11th in the 100 free, Cielo bowed out of the meet (for more information, see here). His swims at Maria Lenk could certainly shake up an already-contentious field in the sprint events. In addition, some major Brazilian swimmers, such as Thiago Pereira, chose not to taper for this meet.
50 Free: Bruno Fratus, Italo Duarte, Marcelo Chierighini, Matheus de Santana
Bruno Fratus swam by far the fastest 50 free of the weekend as a relay lead-off on day 1, a 21.37 which was later negated by his individual finals swim, a 21.50. With both of those swims, Fratus bypassed Nathan Adrian for the fastest time in the world this season. This summer, Fratus came in third in this event in Kazan, just behind Adrian and France’s Florent Manaudou.
In the London Olympics, Fratus finished 4th overall, just behind his teammate Cielo, and he will certainly be aiming for an individual medal this year. It’s hard to fathom that another two swimmers will be able to jump high enough into the world rankings to get ahead of Fratus, but the Brazilian men are knee-deep in sprinting talent (which bodes well for their relays as well).
Italo Duarte clocked the next fastest time, a 22.08, followed by a pair of 22.17s swam by Marcelo Chierighini and Matheus de Santana.
100 Free: Nicolas Oliveira, Matheus de Santana, Marcelo Chierighini, Alan Vitoria
Nicolas Oliveira clocked the fastest time of the day, a 48.41. Other swims that broke the FINA ‘A’ standard 48.99 include Matheus de Santana‘s 48.71, Marcelo Chierighini’s 48.72, and Alan Vitoria‘s 48.96.
After finishing fourth in Kazan last summer, the Brazilian men already have a relay slot in Rio. If no one jumps in between them at Maria Lenk (cough, Cielo) these may be our four relay swimmers. It’s also worth noting that Fratus, even after his fastest-in-the-world 50 performance, wasn’t able to crack that 48.99 mark. Most likely, he’ll give it another try in April. However, these swimmers can rest perhaps a little bit easy, knowing that there are six spots (top four swimmers and two alternates) open for the relay in this event.
200 Free: Nicolas Oliveira, Joao de Luca
Nicolas Oliveira took another win and ‘A’ cut in the 200 free, clocking 1:47.09, the ninth-fastest time in the world this year. Joao de Luca, who set the South American record at this year’s Pan Am Games in a relay lead-off, grabbed his first ‘A’ cut of the meet, a 1:47.81. This duo, along with Thiago Pereira, who chose to forgo the event at this meet in favor of the 100 back, has been trading back and forth for the gold at championship meets over the past year.
400 Free: Luiz Melo
Nineteen-year-old Luiz Melo finished a full three seconds ahead of the field in the 400 free, clocking a 3:50.32, just .07 seconds from the South American record. He can consider himself a safe bet for Rio.
Melo is relatively new to the senior international scene, but he is racking up experience. He competed this summer in both FINA World Championships and the Pan Am Games this summer, where he teamed up with de Lucca, Pereira, and Oliveira to win the 800 free relay in a Pan Ams record 7:11.15.
100 Back: Guilherme Guido
Guilherme Guido grabbed the only ‘A’ cut of the 100 back in 53.09, setting a new South American record. He sped up his FINA ‘A’ qualifying swim from prelims by dropping over three-tenths from 53.41 to 53.09. He also held the previous record, a 53.12 relay lead-off from this summer’s Pan Am Games. He is now the fourth-fastest 100 backstroker in the world this season, bumping Japan’s Ryosuke Irie down to fifth.
200 Back/ 200 Fly: Leonardo de Deus
Leonardo de Deus was the very first swimmer to put his name on the tentative Olympic roster during the meet, clearing the cut of 1:58.22 to clock a monstrous 1:57.43 in the 200 back. He led his next competitor by two seconds and decided to scratch the final that night.
De Deus grabbed his second ‘A’ cut of the meet in the 200 fly, dropping nearly three seconds from his prelims swim to hit 1:56.14.
De Deus had a great performance at this year’s Pan Am Games, coming away with a gold in the 200 butterfly (1:55.01) and two bronzes in the 400 free (3:50.30) and the 200 back (1:58.27).
100 Breast: Felipe Franca de Silva, Joao Gomes Jr, Felipe Lima, Pedro Cardona
The 100 breast was packed with talent, as four swimmers came in under the ‘A’ mark. The top two were Felipe Franca Silva and Joao Gomes Jr., who hit 59.56 and 1:00.00, respectively. Although Franca took a disappointing 11th at FINA World Championships this year in this event, he grabbed five gold medals, the best Brazilian participation of all time at the time, at FINA Short Course Champs in 2014.
Felipe Lima and Pedro Cardona also hit the ‘A’ mark, swimming 1:00.09 and 1:00.14, although they’ll have to break a minute at Maria Lenk to grab a spot on the team.
200 Breast: Thiago Simon
After missing the cut in prelims, Thiago Simon grabbed a likely spot on the Olympic roster by finishing the 200 breast in 2:11.29, two and a half seconds ahead of the field, including South American record-holder Henrique Barbosa, who missed the cut.
This summer, Simon took down the Pan Ams Record in this event with a gold-winning 2:09.52. The bronze medalist from Pan Ams, Thiago Pereira, was missing from this event. He and Barbosa will likely fight for the second spot at Maria Lenk.
100 Fly: Henrique Martins, Marcos Macedo, Nicolas Santos
The top two 100 fly ‘A’ cuts are currently held by Henrique de Souza Martins, who swam a 52.14 in finals and Marcos Macedo, who went 52.17 in prelims. The duo hold the slots for 7th and 8th fastest in the world this year.
Nicolas Santos is still well within striking distance, though. He clocked a 52.31 in prelims.This puts both Martins and Macedo in an interesting position where they have to decide whether to sit Maria Lenk out and see if anyone jumps ahead of them or tamper with their training by tapering for Maria Lenk to try to stay ahead of the field.
200 IM: Henrique Rodrigues, Thiago Pereira
Henrique Rodrigues and Thiago Pereira each grabbed ‘A’ cuts in the 200 IM prelim, where Rodrigues hit 1:58.26 and Pereira grabbed a 1:58.32. Rodrigues now sits at the fifth spot in the world rankings.
It may seem to be a surprise that this was Pereira’s only ‘A’ cut of the meet, but, according to Dias, he chose not to taper for the Open, which makes this swim even more impressive. We should expect him to add more events to his Olympic schedule after Maria Lenk.
400 IM: Brandonn Almeida
Eighteen-year-old Brandonn Almeida took down his own Junior World Record with a 4:14.07 in the finals of the 400 IM, moving up to fourth in the world rankings. He dropped 16 seconds from his prelim swim.
Almeida swam very strong fly and backstroke legs, followed by an underwhelming breaststroke (a high 1:14), which made it look like he wasn’t going to make the Olympic cut, much less the Junior World Record. However, a brisk 57.75 free split sealed the deal, rocketing him ahead of his previous record.
His spot, like female 400 IM’er Maranhao’s, is fairly secure. Esteban Enderica, an Ecuadorian swimmer, came in second, and the next Brazilian swimmer finished 11 seconds behind in 4:25.25.