Brazilian swimmer Nicholas Santos has received a special FINA invite to participate in the 2019 World Aquatics Championships that will take place this summer in Gwangju, South Korea. In a letter sent to the presidents of the country’s regional federations, the Brazilian Confederation of Aquatic Sports (CBDA) informed the country’s swimming community that they had accepted the invite, and that Santos would be added to the team.
Brazil selected its World Championship team of 20 based only on results of Olympic events, and the 39-year old Santos, who specializes in the 50 meter fly, was not chosen in those events. That’s in spite of swimming a 22.77 at the Brazilian Championships (Maria Lenk Trophy) that ranked him 2nd in the world at the time (he now ranks #1).
However, in recognition of Santos’ high potential for a medal (and likely his continued and consistent participation in major FINA events like the World Cup Series and FINA Champions Series), FINA reached out to the CBDA via email to request that the CBDA add Santos to their roster.
“Following the excellent performance of the swimmer at the FINA Champions Swim Series 2019, FINA has the pleasure of inviting Mr. Santos to take part at the FINA World Championships to be held in Gwangju in July 2019.
Accordingly, we would appreciate it very much if CBDA enters Mr. Santos taking into account, of course, the FINA Rules on the numbers of swimmers with A & B times.
On the other side, we took note of the financial conditions for Mr. Santos. Still, please nonte that arrangements will be made so he stays together with the rest of the Brazilian Swimming designation.”
The letter is signed by Cornel Marculescu, the Executive Director of FINA.
The CBDA, in explaining its decision, says that it, “in condition of affiliation to FINA, has the highest regard for the decisions issued by (FINA), always seeking to be in accordance with the resolutions and determinations published by it.”
The key for the CBDA is that the full cost of Santos’ participation will be borne by FINA and Santos’ sponsors. The CBDA is under extreme financial pressure after the fallout from a massive corruption scandal that resulted in charges being filed against the long-time head of the CBDA Coarcy Nunes.
To make room for Santos, the CBDA had to adjust their roster: specifically, Gabriel Santos (no relation) withdrew from the 50 fly, in which he had been entered. The CBDA says that this withdrawal was coincidental: Gabriel Santos will instead focus on the prelims of the 400 free relay, which falls in the same session as prelims of the 50 fly. The semi-finals of the 50 fly also falls in the same session as finals of the 400 free, and the Brazilian men have a chance at medaling in the 400 free relay.
Nicholas Santos has proven ageless, swimming his best times in the 50 fly late into his 30s. He won silver medals in the event at both the 2015 and 2017 editions of the World Championships, and adds to that a total of 10 Short Course World Championship medals.
He also won the 50 fly at all 3 stops of the 2019 FINA Champions Series, which wrapped last weekend in Indianapolis. He swam a 23.01 in Guanzhou, China; a 22.60 in Budapest, Hungary; and a 22.94 in Indianapolis. The 22.60 is the South American Record in the event, and ranks him as the 3rd-fastest swimmer in the history of the event.
This is the first announced instance of the governing body attempting to sway a national selection, though in 2015 Marculescu said that “we can do whatever” with regards to extending Michael Phelps a special invitation to compete at the World Championships even without qualifying for the team.
ATHLETES (events where their qualification was earned)
- Fernando Scheffer (200m and 400m free)
- Breno Correia (200m free and 100m free)
- Luiz Altamir Melo (200m free)
- João de Lucca (200m free)
- Marcelo Chierighini (50m and 100m free)
- Pedro Spajari (100m freestyle)
- Gabriel Santos (100m freestyle)
- Guilherme Guido (100m back)
- Vinicius Lanza (100m butterfly)
- Caio Pumputis (200m medley and 200m breaststroke)
- Brandonn Almeida (400m medley)
- Diogo Villarinho (1500m freestyle)
- Guilherme Costa (1500m free)
- João Gomes Júnior (100m breaststroke)
- Felipe Lima (100m breaststroke)
- Leonardo Santos (200m medley)
- Viviane Jungblut (800m and 1500m free)
- Etiene Medeiros (50m freestyle, 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle)
- Bruno Fratus (50m free)
- Leonardo de Deus (200m back)
- André Calvelo (4x100m free) (Alternate or prelims-only)
- Nicholas Santos (50 fly) (Special FINA Invite)
- Paul Augusto – Corinthians
- Fernando Vanzella – Sesi-SP
- André Ferreira – Pinheiros
- Sérgio Marques – Mines Tennis Club
- Tiago Moreno – Pinheiros