Brazilian ‘Old Guys’ Finally Get Their Relay Medal

2017 FINA WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS – Day 1, South American Recap

Brazil has been waiting for the next generation to come – for a young group of swimmers who have been breaking all of Cielo’s age group records, to come along and maybe, finally, get Brazil back over the medal hump in the 400 free relay.

But instead, the ‘old guys’ of Brazilian swimming had one more run in them, and pushed the Americans harder than anybody expected for a silver medal on Sunday in the 400 free relay. Brazil‘s final time of 3:10.34 was a new National and South American Record, and put them just .28 seconds behind the winning American side.

In spite of having the World Record holder Cesar Cielo in their stable, Brazil hasn’t medaled in the 400 free relay at the World Championships since 1994 and the Olympic Games since 2000.

For the Brazilian veterans, like Cesar Cielo (30) and Bruno Fratus (28), it looked like their best chance had passed them by. Brazil had the chance to make their biggest statement in front of the home crowd in Rio. But Cielo missed the team, and without him Brazil finished just 5th in the Olympic final.

Fratus’ club even dropped after the Olympics him for being ‘too old.’

But this year, those two have each rededicate themselves to the 100 free, and that showed in the final. Cielo kept pace with American Blake Pieroni, who is 10 years younger than him. Fratus, who for most of his career has been a pure 50 sprinter, out-split American Nathan Adrian on the anchor, though not by enough.

Marcelo Chierighini, who is not as old as Cielo and Fratus, is still a veteran at 26 years old, and had the swim of his life. His 46.85 was the fastest split of the entire field, and as far as we can tell, the third-fastest split ever in a textile jammer.

Even without their 2016 anchor Joao de Lucca, who skipped Brazil’s trials meet, Brazil found the right youth join their relay. 21-year old Gabriel Santos split 48.30 on Brazil‘s leadoff leg – the 3rd-best opening split in the final. He got worked by the American leadoff Caeleb Dressel, who led off in an American Record of 47.26, but he played his part by giving his relay a chance.

The Brazilians nailed their relay exchanges (their aggregate .55 seconds were the second-fastest in the field that didn’t get DQ’ed behind Japan’s .51), and they put the veterans Cielo and Fratus at the end. Those two know how to race, and they knew how to race the Americans.

While the finish wasn’t gold, Brazil did as well in that relay as they could have hoped given the uncertainty of how they’d perform. Hanging on for 3 more years until Tokyo will be a tall order, but Brazil‘s ‘old guys’ at least fulfilled one portion of their potential on Sunday.

Fastest Known 400 Free Relay Splits:

  1. 46.06 – Jason Lezak, USA, 2008 Olympics
  2. 46.46 – Alain Bernard, France, 2009 World Championships
  3. 46.63 – Fred Bousquet, France, 2008 Olympics (prelims)
  4. 46.63 – Fred Bousquet, France, 2008 Olympics
  5. 46.73 – Alain Bernard, France, 2008 Olympics
  6. 46.74 – Yannick Agnel, France, 2012 Olympics
  7. 46.79 – Nathan Adrian, USA, 2009 World Championships
  8. 46.79 – Pieter van den Hoogenband, Netherlands, 2004 Olympics
  9. 46.84 – Filippo Magnini, Italy, 2008 Olympics (prelims)
  10. 46.85 – Marcelo Chierighini, Brazil, 2017 World Championships
  11. 46.90 – Fabien Gilot, France, 2013 World Championships
  12. 46.95 – Vlad Morozov, Russia, 2015 World Championships
  13. 46.97 – Nathan Adrian, USA, 2016 Olympics

South American-Only Medals Table

Brazil was the only South American country to medal on day 1 of pool swimming at the 2017 World Aquatics Championships.

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Brazil 0 1 0 1
Total 0 1 0 1

South American Records

  • South American Record – 200 IM – Joanna Maranhao, 2:11.24
  • South American Record – 400 free relay – Brazil, 3:10.34
  • Brazilian National Record – 200 IM – Joanna Maranhao, 2:11.24
  • Brazilian National Record – 400 free relay – Brazil, 3:10.34
  • Peruvian National Record – McKenna De Bever, 2:16.52
  • Bolivian National Record – Jose Quintanilla, 25.35

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4 years ago

The split sheet is missing a bunch of times, like Cameron mcevoy going 46 or morov going 46.

4 years ago

And did it brilliantly.

4 years ago

split sheet is missing two 46.2’s from Rome 2009, a 46.6 and 46.7 from Hoogenband, McEvoy’s 46.6 from 2015.

I believe Adrian had another 46.6 for the 2013 DQ’d 4×1 medley relay

4 years ago

Adrian has a 46.6 from the Dqed 2013 rleay ( it still count as the DQ was unrelated to his or the Butterfly leg), aslo Cielo and Bernard went 46.26 in 2009.

4 years ago

Huge swims from Chierighini and Fratus. Congrats Brazil.

4 years ago

Hoogenband went 46″79 to give Holland the silver in Athens 2004. In that race he caught up Lezak leaving the US in 3rd place

Reply to  Braden Keith
4 years ago

I’m not sure but I think Bousquet had some crazy splits in Barcelona 2003

4 years ago

The table is almost correct. It says Fastest Known 400 Free Relay Splits, I guess it is not including 400 Medley Relays. The only one missing is Hoogenband 46″79 from Athens 2004

Coach MM
4 years ago

Did it ever happened that a coach had swimmers in all three podium finishers in a relay at worlds (or olympics)? I think Brad Hawke just did that….. Zach Apple, Bruno Fratus, Marcelo Chiereghine, Peter Holoda…. Not to count that Cielo was with him for years.

Coach MM
Reply to  Coach MM
4 years ago

Brett Hawke, my bad for misspelling his name.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder 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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