Going into day four we’ve seen most of the swimming super stars in action, with the exception of one. Tomorrow in the heats of the men’s 100 freestyle it will be our first look at Brazil’s Cesar Cielo. Unlike most of the top competitors in the 100 freestyle, Cielo wasn’t part of the 4×100 free relay. The Brazilian team failed to make the final and he was not a part of the prelim team. Some say that’s a huge error by the coaches, but it could be argued that it’s worked out for the best if medals are the end goal. Cesar sat back and watched everyone show their hand while he avoided the draining emotional and physical experience that comes with being part of a marquee race at the Olympics.
James Magnussen is a prime example of the toll that experience can take, and now that he’s vulnerable Cielo seems to have improved his odds by not swimming at all. There is, however, a different 20-year-old standing between Cielo and gold in the 100 freestyle. No one is swimming more confidently than Yannick Agnel, but assuming he makes it into the final he’ll have swum 7 times including what should be another epic relay in the 800 free tomorrow. In his prelim heat tomorrow, Cielo will be right next to Nathan Adrian who has to be confident after a terrific leadoff leg in the 400 free relay, but I think he’ll have to be faster than 47.89 if he is aiming for the top spot on the podium.
So here’s what we know going into the heats of the 100 free: We know Magnussen is vulnerable, we know Agnel is on fire, we know there’s a few other guys in contention, and we wish that Michael Phelps was part of it. But the 2012 Olympic canvas is clean for the World Record holder. How will Cesar’s 2012 story turn out?