Brazil, South Africa Appoint Names for Tokyo 2020 Open Water Olympic Qualifier

Brazil and South Africa have both declared their entrants for the final qualifying race for the open water portion of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The selected swimmers will travel to the Olympic qualifying event on May 29 (women) and 30 (men) in Fukuoka, Japan. Countries are only eligible to send up to 2 participants to that qualifier in the gender races where they didn’t already earn qualifiers via a top 10 finish in the 10km race at the 2019 World Championships.

The top 9 finishers in each race (men’s and women’s) from the qualifier move forward to the Olympic Games, as do the next-best qualifier from each of the 5 FINA continents (Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, and the Americas).

Each country can only advance 1 athlete per gender from the Olympic Qualifying race in Fukuoka.

The women’s Olympic 10km race is scheduled for August 4, and the men’s race is scheduled for August 5. Both races will start at 6:30 AM local time to avoid heat concerns.


Brazil chose its male qualifiers during an open water race held last Saturday in Barra do Pirai, Rio de Janeiro.

Ultimately, Guilherme Costa and Alan do Carmo were the top two finishers, overcoming Diogo Villarinho, who led into the last of 4 laps in the race.

The 31-year old Carmo is a veteran of open water swimming and has a pair of World Championship medals (silver in 2015, bronze in 2013) as part of Brazil’s entry in the co-ed open water team events.

Individually, he finished 5th in the 25km swim at the 2011 World Championships – his best individual finish at the World Championships. He was 7th in the 10k at the 2013 World Championships, 9th at the 2015 World Championships, 29th at the 2017 World Championships, and 33rd at the 2019 World Championships.

He represented Brazil at the initial open water Olympic event in 2008 and finished 14th. He went to the Olympic qualifying event in 2012, but missed Olympic qualifying. He returned to the Olympic Games in 2016, where he finished in 18th place.

Costa, on the other hand, is one of the country’s top pool distance swimmers who is making the shift to open water – which makes sense, given his training plans of 100,000 meters/week.

He’s the current Brazilian Record holder in the 400, 800, and 1500 freestyles in long course.

That leaves Victor Colonese, Brazil’s other 10k entry at the World Championships, out of the mix.

The Brazilians’ primary competition for the continental representation slots will be Ecuador’s Esteban Enderica, who was 11th at Worlds, Canada’s Hau-Li Fan, who was 17th at Worlds, and Ecuador’s David Castro, who was 31st at Worlds. The best qualifying scenario for Do Carmo would see Enderica and Fan finish in the top 10 of the race. With Castro eliminated from consideration at that point as Ecuador’s second finisher, Do Carmo would be in line for a continental place.

Brazil’s female Olympic qualifying slot is already occupied by Ana Marcela Cunha, who was 5th in the 10km race at the World Championships. She is the defending World Champion in the 5km and 25km race and will be a serious medal threat in Tokyo.

South Africa

With the country’s best-known open water swimmer, Chad Ho, announcing his retirement from competitive swimming after the announcement of the delay of the Olympic Games,

The South African National Championships were held at the Marina Martinique in Jeffrey’s Bay near Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth). There were 5km, 7.5km, and 10km races held, and the top two finishers from the three relevant age groups (14-15, 16-17, 18-19) were also eligible for selection to the FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships.

The top two finishers in the 10km event per gender are eligible to race at the Fukuoka Olympic qualifier.

For the men, those representatives will be Michael McGlynn (15:49:49.83) and Henre Luow (15:55:04.44), neither of whom swam the 10k at the World Championships in 2019.

Luow is committed to join the Georgia Bulldogs in the United States this fall.

McGlynn swam the 5k at the 2019 World Championships, where he was 22nd. The now-retire Ho was the country’s top 10k finisher, taking 23rd place.

If they don’t finish in the top 9 at the qualifier, the South African man only have 2 real contenders for the continental representation: each other, and Namibia’s Phillip Seidler, who finished 32nd at the World Championships – only about 47 seconds behind Namibia. Ous Mellouli, a former Olympic gold medalist and 38th place finisher at Worlds, has swum a few meets lately, though it’s still not clear yet if he’s in full training to take a run at an Olympic spot.

On the women’s side, Michelle Weber won in 2:06:55.77, with Stephanie Houtman placing 2nd in 2:07:14.86.

Weber was the country’s top finisher at last year’s World Championships in 1:56:25.8 for 31st place. That put her on a bit of an island (with Argnetina’s Julia Arino), 39-seconds behind Japan’s Minami Niikura, who finished 1 spot ahead.

There is no obvious challenger for the African continental spot – the continent’s next-best finisher at Worlds was Egypt’s Sandy Atef, who was 11 minutes behind Weber.

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Max Hardie
5 months ago

Watch out for Ivo Cassini from Argentina.

5 months ago

For the record

This was the 2nd time Costa swam an open water race in his Life. 1st time was 3 years ago in the king and queen of the sea race.

5 months ago

Unless this is a late April Fool’s joke, the qualifier has been cancelled.

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Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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