Although the weather failed to warmup any today (still low 70’s and very windy for the outdoor meet), the swimming certainly did in the second final’s session of the 2011 Maria Lenk Trophy/Brazilian National Championships. The weather was just as cold, windy, and miserable as it was on the first day, but the swimmers seem to be getting adjusted to it.
The first big fireworks of the day were in the 400 IM’s (on both the men’s and women’s sides). Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry (Minas) set a meet record in the women’s 400 IM with her 4:37.21: a time that ranks 3rd in the world this year, and is only a second off of her textile personal-best from 2007. The podium was dominated by foreign swimmers, in one of the most internationally interesting races of the meet, as Spain’s Mireia Belmonte (who currently sits atop the world rankings with her time from Spanish Nationals) placed second in 4:41.45 for Flamengo. This is her second lackluster swim (by her standards anyways) of the meet, showing that she is likely still at peak training. Argentinian swimmer Georgina Bardach, who took the bronze medal in this event at the 2004 Olympics, placed third in 4:49.22. She, along with teammates Joanna Maranhao, Larissa Cieslak, and the aforementioned Coventry, showed off Minas’ impressive depth with a 1-3-4-5 finish.
In the men’s version of the event, Brazilian Thiago Pereira (Corinthians) also stamped his time 3rd in the world rankings with a 4:12.52. Pereira is having a dominant meet, and is the early favorite for swimmer of the competition, with this being his 3rd win in two sessions (on top of his 200 breaststroke and backstroke double from yesterday).
In the 50 free finals, which is the race that likely brought most spectators out to the pool today, Cesar Cielo did his thing and took the win (after having only the second-best time in each of the previous rounds). His winning mark of 21.95 was a touch off of his 21.73 leadoff from Day 2, but was still a very good follow-up mark for him. In post-race interviews, he stated that he was happy to go sub-22 unshaved an untapered. Bruno Fratus, who is becoming an important relay piece for Brazil at the least, and an elite sprinter in his own right at the most, took second in 22.20. This was not his best time of the three rounds at the meet, but his 22.08 from the preliminary rounds will get him to Shanghai.
In the women’s version, we got our first individual-final swim from Jessica Hardy after she learned that the IOC has deemed her eligible for the 2012 London Olympics. Her swim showed the weight that had been lifted off of her shoulders, and she won the race in 24.80: her season-best time and the 5th best in the world (though, with 3 Dutch swimmers ahead of her, that sits her 4th in a World Championship setting). That swim gave Flamengo the sweep of the sprint freestyles. The top finishing Brazilian swimmer was Flavia Delaroli-Cazziolato, the Brazilian National Record holder, who swam a 25.48, meaning that she will be left off of the World Championship team barring a relay spot or some relief from the CBDA.
The 200 freestyles didn’t live up to the other races, though those have never been strong events for the Brazilians. After setting a meet record in the 1500 yesterday, Ous Mellouli came back with a solid 1:50.01 to win the men’s 200 free for Corinthians. (This is precisely 3 seconds off of his season best from Ann Arbor, where he posted the world’s 5th-best time of 1:47.01). This was not his best swim, but at the least it kept the race close. Nicolas Oliveira, of Minas, took second in 1:50.37, and Vinicius Waked (also of Minas) was 3rd in 1:50.59.
Minas picked up more points in the women’s 200 free, with a win by Jessica Cavalheiro in 2:03.00. This betters her mark (slightly) from the World Championship Trials 2 weeks ago, but still isn’t enough to get her to Shanghai. At only 19, however, she definitely has some long-term potential for the Brazilian squad.
Full Day 2 Finals Results are available here.
The big semi-final on the day was the men’s and women’s 100 breaststrokes. On the women’s side, a great battle is shaping up between the American and Trojan Aquatics teammates Rebecca Soni (1:06.48) and Jessica Hardy (1:06.74). For Hardy, that is another season-best time, and moves her up to 3rd in the world rankings. She’s seen as one of the few swimmers around the world who has a chance at beating Soni in a breaststroke event in the next 2+ years, but with a shift in her training focus to freestyle, we might not see that happen.
The men’s 100 breaststroke for the Brazilians has shaped up to nearly rival the quality and depth of their 100 freestylers. For the second-straight round, three swimmers were under a 1:01 (Felipe Silva-1:00.34, Henrique Barbosa-1:00.80, and Felipe Lima-1:00.88). All three of those marks are under the Brazilian World Championship qualifying time, and several other swimmers are very close, so it will be an awesome battle tomorrow to see who the first three to touch the wall are. If weather conditions continue to improve, a :59 is definitely on tap for tomorrow.
Food for thought: It took a 1:02.03 to be amongst the top 7 finalists in the 100 breaststroke at Maria Lenk. At the 2010 US Nationals? Only a 1:02.17. Yikes!
Through 14 events, Minas continues to dominate the scoring thanks to their depth. Corinthians has jumped Flamengo, despite several Flamengo wins, for 2nd place, and Pinheiros is still in 4th. Minas appears in excellent position to win this meet right now, as they continue to get stronger each day of the meet.
1. Minas 1001
2. Corinthians 657
3. Flamengo 542
4. Pinheiros 464.5
5. Unisata 327
6. Curitibano 134
7. Gremio 106.5
8. Fluminese 99
9. Praia 49
10. Botafogo 44
11. Santa Maria 41
T-12. Paineiras 18
T-12. Alvares Cabral 18
14. Santa Catarina 7
T-15. Industria 6
T-15. Iate 6
17. Ribeirao Preto 3
18. Ass Doc Esc Sup Ed Fisica 2