Portugal has set a goal of putting 3 swimmers into the top 16 at the 2020 Olympic Games, this according to national technical director of swimming José Machado.
That would improve, by 1, the country’s 2016 result, where Alexis Santos finished 12th in the semi-finals of the men’s 200 IM (2:00.08) and 14th in prelims of the 400 IM (4:15.84), which was a new National Record.
Santos, who is 27-years old, has continued to improve since then, including in April 2019 at the Portuguese Championships swimming 1:58.19 in the 200 IM to break the national record.
Santos was one of 5 individual swimmers that Portugal sent to the Olympics in 2016, including open water swimmer Vania Neves. The team also included Diogo Carvalho, Tamila Holub, and Victoria Kamisnkaya. Holub was born in Ukraine and trains in the U.S. at North Carolina State University, Carvalho lives and trains in Portugal, and Kaminskaya was born in Russia and trains in Portugal.
Portugal has had 1 finalist in swimming at the Olympic Games in its history: a 7th-place result in the 200 breaststroke from Alexandre Yokochi at the 1984 Olympic Games, which were boycotted by a number of countries. A year later, he took silver in the 200 breast at the European Championships, and in 1987 he won a gold medal at the World University Games (Summer Universiade).
The goal is well within reach for the Portuguese. Other big opportunities for top 16 finishes:
- Angelica Andre, who took 19th in the women’s 10km race at last summer’s World Championships.
- 22-year old Gabriel Lopes, who finished 15th in the semi-finals of the men’s 200 IM at last summer’s World Championships, where Santos was 12th. Both swimmers have hit the FINA “A” standard, so both are eligible to race the event at the World Championships.
- 23-year old Diana Duraes was 18th at last summer’s World Championships in the 1500 free, swimming 16:30.67. In that same race, Tamila Holub was 16th in 16:29.57. The women’s 1500 is one of 3 new Olympic events in swimming this year, and both swimmers are under the initial “A” standard already. Holub has been 16:20.51 in that race, and 2 weeks ago in Lisbon, Duraes swam 16:15.12 to break the Portuguese Record. Both of those times would have easily been in the top 16 at the World Championships, and both swimmers are young enough to expect continued improvement. It took 16:02 to final at Worlds, though after Katie Ledecky withdrew that became a 16:08. Depth globally in the women’s 1500 free drops off rapidly after the elite group. Holub was 17th at Worlds in the 800 free and Duraes was 20th.
- 26-year old Ana Monteiro was 12th in the 200 fly at last summer’s World Championships, while Kaminskaya was 19th in the 200 IM and 15th in the 400 IM.
- Joao Vital was 14th in the men’s 400 IM at the World Championships.
- Post-Worlds last summer, at the Portuguese Open, Ana Rodrigues swam a new Portuguese Record in the women’s 50 free of 25.56. Primarily a breaststroker throughout her career, lately she’s been transitioning to freestyle and has had a lot of success. It took 25.0 to make top 16 in the 50 free at the World Championships.
- Teenager Jose Lopes broke a Portuguese Record in the 800 free in August, swimming 8:02.16. While that probably leaves him at least 10 seconds from a top-16 finish, his improvement curve is tremendous. His 2017 best time was 8:16, followed by an 8:09 in 2018, and an 8:02 in 2019. He’s already been 8:02 again early in 2020, so if he hits a great swim, 7:52 is possible.
Portugal’s Top 16 History, Swimming at the Olympic Games
- 2016 – 2 (Alexis Santos 200 IM 12th, Alexis Santos 400 IM 14th)
- 2012 – 0 (top pool finisher, Diogo Carvalho, 18th, men’s 200 IM)
- 2008 – 0 (top pool finisher, Diogo Carvalho, 18th, men’s 200 IM)
- 2004 – 1 (Men’s 800 free relay, 14th)
- 2000 – 0 (top pool finisher, Jose Couto, 18th, men’s 100 breaststroke)
- 1996 – 0 (top pool finisher, Jose Couto, 18th, men’s 200 breaststroke)
- 1992 – 0 (top pool finisher, Artur Costa, 17th, men’s 1500 freestyle)
- 1988 – 1 (Men’s 400 free relay, 14th)
- 1984 – 1 (Alexander Yokochi, men’s 200 breaststroke, 7th)