The longest standing record in South American swimming fell by the wayside yesterday, as Venezuelan Marcos Lavado broke a nearly 33-year-old mark in the men’s 200 butterfly.
At the 26th Annual International Invitational in Barbados Lavado clocked a time of 1:56.98, breaking the record set way back in 1984 by Rafael Vidal at 1:57.51. That swim won Vidal the bronze medal at the LA Olympics, and broke the Americas Record at the time (fastest by a North or South American). The record stood an incredible 32 years, 9 months and 16 days.
Vidal’s medal made him a household name in Venezuela, as it was and still is Venezuela’s only Olympic medal in swimming. He died in 2005 in a car accident at 41 years of age.
Lavado has been within reach of the record all year, hitting a best time of 1:57.94 at the Austin Pro Swim in January before coming within 0.03 of the record earlier this month at the Atlanta stop in 1:57.54. He currently trains with Azura Florida Aquatics.
Lavado competed at the 2012 Olympics in London, as well as the 2015 World Championships in Kazan. He was a finalist in the 200 fly at the 2015 Pan Am Games, placing 6th. He is expected to compete later this summer at the World Championships in Budapest given that he has now cleared the FINA ‘A’ standard of 1:57.28.
That swim has him just outside the world’s top-25 for the season (1:56.96 is 25th), though it’s worth noting he’s under the time needed to advance beyond the heats at Worlds in 2015 (1:57.28), and isn’t far off that same mark from the 2016 Olympics (1:56.72).
Watch Vidal’s historic swim from 1984 below, courtesy of Roberto Munoz on youtube.