Thanks to Brazilian correspondent D’artagnan Dias for contributing to this report.
Day 3 of the 2012 Mara Lenk Trophy was highlighted by heavy winds and records galore, including a pair of new textile-bests in the men’s and women’s 50 flys, respectively. The international swimmers dominated much of this session, but the Brazilians (especially the men) were absolutely shredding this session. This was the best day of the meet thus far.
Men’s 50 Fly
Cesar Cielo barely missed a textile-best in the 50 free on Wednesday (by .02 to be exact). But when you start playing apples-to-apples with Cielo’s previous best in the 50 fly, a 22.98 from mid-season 2011, that was only .02 from the textile-best meant that there was no way this mark was going to stand. Cielo crushed the 50 fly with a 22.76, bettering Roland Schoeman’s old mark of 22.96, to win this 50 fly. That makes him the 4th-fastest in history in this race, and also earns him more bonus points by breaking the Brazilian and South American Records (Nicholas dos Santos – 22.87) in the race.
But this swim (along with the one in the women’s 50 fly afterward) bring up an interesting conundrum in swimming. Brazil is one of the few places in the world where major swim meets are still held outdoors, and in the unpredictable Rio weather at the Maria Lenk swim stadium, the 50’s actually had a big tailwind on Thursday. This probably didn’t make a huge difference in the swims (both swimmers broke the previous textile bests pretty handily) but it’s worth consideration. It was a theme throughout the night, and those in attendance seemed to think that even on deck-level, it was strong enough to make a difference. A little bit of track-flavor coming to the pool.
As for dos Santos, he’s really a tough-luck loser. He also broke the old textile best, and South American Record, but touch second just barely in 22.79. He was way behind Cielo, but dug hard at the finish to almost get him.
Fred Bousquet went two-for-two in terms of great swims, but also went two-for-two in terms of running into the brick wall that is Cielo. He cracked off one of the top-5 swims ever in textile with a 23.03, but that was only good for 3rd! By more than two-tenths of a second! Still, Bousquet with no Olympics to think about looks like a huge favorite to win this 50 fly title at the European Championships. (It should be a great race between him and Spain’s World Record holder Rafael Munoz, who also came up short of the Olympics).
Glauber Silva was 4th in 23.19, capping off what is the fastest 50 fly race ever, at any level, outside of the 2009 suited World Championships.
Women’s 50 Fly
Serving as a bit of a tuneup for Cielo’s textile-best (her race came first in time), Jeanette Ottesen won the women’s 50 fly in 25.29, which took down Therese Alshammar’s old textile-best of 25.37 from last year, and is the third-best swim in history.
This was a bit of a shock on how fast she was in this race. She’d had good swims (in the 50 free and 100 fly) earlier in this meet, but nothing that indicated she was capable of cutting four-tenths off of her lifetime best in this race. That’s a stunning swim that dominated the race by over a full second (and though it’s not officially a South American Record, it was faster than the South American Record) with a big 105 total points for the swim.
The runner-up was Daynara de Paula in 26.26, almost a full second behind.
Men’s 200 Backstroke
No textile-best in this 200 back, but we did see a Meet Record from Leonardo de Deus with a 1:57.38 for 18 big bonus points toward Flamengo (along with Cielo, they seriously cleaned-up in points on Thursday). He and current National Record holder Thiago Pereira of Corinthians went toe-to-toe in this race, with Pereira coming into the wall just .01 back in 1:57.39. That’s a great time for him that’s only a few-tenths off of his personal best in the race.
De Deus is on the Olympic Team with this swim; that much we know. As for Pereira, this is an interesting swim for him. He was the one who dominated this race until the very end, where de Deus really put on his jets to get fingertips to the wall first. This is an event that Thiago never really took seriously until last year at the Pan Am Games, where he broke the National Record. He won’t swim the race in London, as it conflicts directly with the 200 IM on the Olympic schedule, but he could probably be an Olympic finalist if he did.
Leonardo dos Santos, who had a great prelims swim to take the top seed, added time and was only 3rd for Minas, but still in a strong mark of 1:59.36.
Men’s 100 Breaststroke
Felipe Silva didn’t get his World Record, and as the weather worsened into the evening he ended up adding some time from his impressive 59.63 in prelims. He added two-tenths to finish in 59.83, but that still makes a pair of sub-minute swims for him after having never done so before in his career. Now broken through that barrier, he should be a finalist in London, and also is another piece into a high-potential, but low-performance, 400 medley relay for Brazil. (We’ll learn a lot more about that group on Saturday in the 100 back).
This race, one of Brazil’s best, saw five swimmers break under 1:01. That includes a 1:00.38 from Henrique Barbosa for 2nd and a 1:00.54 from Joao Gomes for 3rd.
Felipe Lima was very fast in prelims, but like his name-brother couldn’t match that in finals. He added half-a-second to finish 4th in 1:00.62. 200 breaststroke champion Tales Cerdeira, with his Flamengo team hot in the team battle, continued to push his injured right thigh in this race. He took 5th in 1:00.97. That’s way faster than he was in prelims, but still not an awesome time. Hopefully, he doesn’t push the injury too many more times in this meet.
Women’s 800 Free
Lotte Friis of Denmark, swimming alongside her countrymate Ottesen for Corinthians, scored her team more huge points with an 8:26.98. That’s underneath the South American Record, for 70 extra points.
More importantly for her in the bigger picture, that makes her the 6th-best in the world this year as she marches towards the Olympics in this race, where she’s not quite as good as she is in the non-Olympic 1500. The time seems exciting for most, but with how fast Rebecca Adlington is going to be at her home Olympics, she needs to be going at least this fast at this time of the year if she wants to get down to an 8:17 or 8:16 and challenge for gold in August.
Showing the weakness of Brazilian distance swimming, foreigners swept the top three spots. Mireia Belmonte took 2nd in 8:31.80. Back in heavy training, she’s already 6 seconds slower than she was at Spanish Nationals last month. Cecilia Biagioli was 3rd in 8:33.17. That crushes her Argentine Record from early March by two seconds. The 27-year old, who has had some success in open water as of late, is really hitting a late bloom. In the last 6 weeks, she’s destroyed her own National Record by a total of 9 seconds.
Men’s 400 Free Relay
This race lined up as a possible huge showdown between Flamengo and Pinheiros. The former relay included Cesar Cielo and Joao de Lucca who is on fire. Pinheiros included Fred Bouquet, and Bruno Fratus. Both teams left one big-time swimmer off of the relay (Nicholas dos Santos and Marcelo Chierighini). In the end though, without any really impressive splits (Cielo had the best split in only 48.1 on an anchor), Flamengo ran away with the race in 3:17.78. Pinheiros took 2nd in 3:19.17.
- France’s Laure Manaoudou, swimming for Pinheiros, won the women’s 200 back in 2:11.77. She was swimming almost entirely alone with a 4+ second win. Big points, though, as that’s under the South American Record.
- The Brazilian women continued to disappoint their fans in the 100 breaststroke. The winner, Ana Carvalho, won in 1:10.53. Pamela Souza was 2nd in 1:10.75.
For the second-straight day, Flamengo ended a session in the lead with 1315.50 points, but with only 59 points separating the top three, this meet still remains 100% up in the air as we’re now past the halfway mark. Corinthians dominated this meet last year, but if they want to repeat they will be in for a dogfight.
1. Flamengo 1315.50
2. Pinheiros 1279
3. Corinthians 1256.50
4. Minas 1002