The Club de Regatas do Flamengo, the club best known for being the representation of Brazilian superstar Cesar Cielo, has dropped his contract and cut their senior team, according to Brazilian site Lancenet.
The decision came as the club is determined to present a team that meets the three standards of the board: being self-sustaining, being competitive, and training at the Club. The latter of those is a major challenge because the club’s pool doesn’t meet the wants or desires of Brazil’s elite professional swimmers.
“Instead of renewing the contract, which ends on Monday, let’s invest in basic and reform the water park,” Alexandre Povoa, vice-president of Olympic sports to Lancenet.
Flamengo will not field an adult swim team (20+) in 2013, though they still will support the junior squad.
This is a huge blow in Brazilian swimming, as the club are the defending champions of the Maria Lenk Trophy: the country’s major championship meet. This would be the equivalent of the United States of SwimMAC Carolina or Cal cutting their swimming programs.
Other swimmers who represent Flamengo include Leonardo de Deus, Henrique Barbosa, former Michigan star Andre Schulz, 2012 Short Course World Champion Nicholas dos Santos, Louisville All-American Joao de Lucca, and Tales Cerdeira, among others. The squad is also the official club-of-record for top female swimmers Joanna de Maranhao and Daynara de Paula. For this year’s Maria Lenk Trophy, they also imported Spanish star Mireia Belmonte and American Eugene Godsoe to join their club for the weekend.
This won’t have a big effect on Cielo’s training, as he had been training with the independent PRO-16 project, but it will hit his pocket-books hard: his annual contract is reported to have been well into 6-figures in dollars per year. Flamengo did not make a commitment to the swim program one way or the other beyond 2013, and this isn’t the first time this issue has come up. When the all-star PRO-16 training squad first was put together, many teams balked at the idea of their elite swimmers training with someone else, causing some swimmers to pull out. Another member of this squad, Olympic medalist Thiago Pereira, has also lost his contract this fall with Corinthians (the 4th-place squad last year).
Cielo’s training situation is likely to change in the near future anyway, as he was less-than-pleased with his Olympic performance. Though he earned a bronze in his best event the 50 free, and swam fairly well in the 100, he didn’t go his best 50 time at the end of the year. His season wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t great either. Cielo has been spotted in Auburn, Alabama in the last week, so it’s possible that an increased involvement by his former college coach Brett Hawke will be in play, though this is unlikely to be a full-time move because of his desire to stay close to home and because of sponsor obligations.
Flamengo is a multi-sport club that both serves a membership and is home to the country’s most popular soccer team of the same name. Prior to coming to the squad in 2010, Cielo represented Pinheiros, a team that had dominated national competitions and was the runner-up at Maria Lenk in 2012.