Jose Paulo Lopes Breaks Portuguese Record in 800 Free Again in Finals


Portugal’s Jose Paulo Lopes swam a new Portuguese Record and Olympic Qualifying Time in the men’s 800 free on Saturday, posting a 7:52.68 to finish 6th in the finals.

The swim broke his own record of 7:52.81 from prelims, which in turn demolished his own National Record of 8:02.16 done at the Portuguese Open and Youth Championships in August 2019.

He’s been in the low-8 minutes several times during the period of the global coronavirus pandemic, but this swim was a huge breakthrough, dropping almost 10 seconds from his previous best.

Comparative Splits:

Lopes Lopes Lopes
Previous National Record Prelims National Record
New National Record
100m 57.41 57.16 57.21
200m 1:00.83 59.93 59.77
300m 1:01.36 1:00.21 59.77
400m 1:01.45 59.85 59.87
500m 1:00.32 59.15 59.02
600m 1:01.21 59.4 59.53
700m 1:01.39 59.41 59.72
800m 58.19 57.7 57.79
Final Time 8:02.16 7:52.81 7:52.68

Lopes executed essentially the same race strategy as he did in his previous best times, just better: his consistent splits were more consistent, and all of his splits were faster, but they followed the same relative pattern of his previous race. That includes being sub-1 minute on each of his 8 splits – whereas in his previous Portuguese Record swim, he was only sub-minute in 2 out of his 8 splits.

Lopes’ swim undercut the FINA automatic invite standard of 7:54.31.

After the race, his coach Luis Cameira spoke of the emotion of the achievement.

“It was a huge moment,” Cameira said. “In such a difficult time, with so many limitations, Ze Paulo’s resilience was a lesson for all of us.”

The 800 is Lopes’ first swim of the meet. He’s scheduled to finish the meet on Sunday with a swim in the 400 IM where he’s the 19th seed in 4:17.99. There he’ll be chasing the FINA “A” standard of 4:15.84.

He is one of just 3 male Portuguese athletes to have hit the Olympic “A” qualifying standard so far, joining Alexis Santos and Gabriel Lopes, both of whom did so with 1:58s in the 200 IM on April 6.

On the women’s side, the newly-added Olympic event the 1500 free has proved most fruitful: two of the country’s three “A” standards among women are Diana Duraes (16:15.12) and Tamila Holub (16:15.50) in the 1500 free. Holub’s swim came this week during the prelims of the event. The other is a 2:08.40 in the 200 fly by Ana Monteiro.

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Portuguese Longhorn
7 months ago

José Paulo Lopes, with his amazing swim, finished 6th in the final. Also, Tamila Holub swam a 16:15.50 in the 1500 free during prelims, improving her A standard cut.

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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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