Raia Rapida Picks: An International Selection Panel Weighs In

Ahead of the 2nd edition of the Brazilia Raia Rapida international throw-down meet in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, on this Saturday, September 28th, we reached out to an international contingent of swimming experts to see what everyone’s feelings were in this one-of-a-kind, made-for-tv, annual extravaganza.

This unique meet gives a special experience for the swim fan: it’s an international-level team-based meet; it’s highly competitive; it’s in a format that’s easy to understand; and the fields are small enough to really get your head into it.

The official meet page can be seen here.

The Scoring

In the four individual events, there will be three knockout rounds. The slowest swimmer in each round will be eliminated. So in round 1, all four competitors will race, then in round 2, the three fastest, then the two fastest from that round will go head-to-head for the title.

The relay will be a quad-heat throw-down, battle to the finish.

Note that the whole event is boiled down to just 55 minutes, meaning that the turnaround times will be brutal.

Swimmers can walk away with as much as $5,679 for an hour’s worth of work, and everyone will earn at least $1,100. In total, 99,996 reais are being handed out, which is just over $45,000 in the United States.

By Individual event:

1st 3 points
2nd 2 points
3rd 1 point
4th 0 points
1st 6 points
2nd 4 points
3rd 2 points
The Money
Individual event (1 Brazilian Real = .45 US Dollars)
1st 9,375 reais
2nd 4,687 reais
3rd 2,812 reais
4th 1,875 reais
1st 12,500 reais
2nd 6,250 reais
3rd 3,750 reais
4th 2,500 reais
The Picks
In the interest of eliminating bias, we’ve picked some of the best swim minds from each country, and have even thrown a Swiss picker in, just for a touch of neutrality.
First and foremost, we chose the man who’s veritably running the whole show at Raia Rapida on behalf of GloboTV, Alex Pussielidi of Brazil’s Blog do Coach. From France, we picked up Eric Ress (full disclosure: he’s a dual citizen with the United States). He was on France’s team at the 2008 European Junior Championships, the 2009 World University Games, and was the 2010 French National Champion and Paris Open Champion in the 200 meter backstroke.
From down under, it’s Bobby “I didn’t play pro basketball” Hurley: a former World Record holder in the 50 short course meter backstroke.
And from Switzerland, we chose the man behind proswimworkouts.com, the head coach of Vezey Natation, and a former member of the legendary Race Club coaching staff, Nico Messer.
I’ll represent the Americans, and we’re all going to have some fun (after all, this meet is all about fun, and some serious cash).
We didn’t ask anybody to explain their picks, but like I said, these are some of the greatest minds in swimming: we couldn’t stop them from explaining their picks.
There was a lot of disagreement on this pick. In fact, each swimmer got one selection from our crowd, leaving it to Nico (Switzerland) to break the tie. He went with the home-country favorite Daniel Orzechowski, making him the favorite.
Ress picked the American Adam Mania, and explained thusly:
“Although Orzechowski is the fastest in the 50 outright, his 55+ 100 leads me to believe he’s more focused on the 50 so multiple races may not work in his favor. The fastest 100 guy for the summer was Arnammart, but my pick is Mania. For some reason he always cranks out a good 50 and although he may have not been at worlds I think he’ll post some good swims in Brazil.”
Christian Sprenger is the overwhelming favorite in the breaststroke, and rightfully so. He was 2nd in the event at the 2013 World Championships, and won the 100 meter distance.
The lone dissenter would be Mr. Alpine, Nico Messer. He explained his choice “Christian Sprenger is probably the strongest breaststroker on paper, but I don’t think he does well with multiple swims.”
Ress, however, feels differently, saying that he believes that Sprenger’s ability to go :58 in the 100 means he will actually have an advantage in the multiple-round format.
Ress also thinks that Alexandrov will do well, but not enough to pick him.
Hurley noted that Sprenger is usually fast in-season.
This one is really interesting. Nicholas Santos got the most picks, but this fly is probably the most even of all of the match-ups, across-the-board.
Ress again picked the American, Eugene Godsoe, to win, saying that he thinks Bousquet will get 2nd and Santos 3rd.
Though Godsoe took silver at the World Championships and Santos was only 4th, Santos was the fastest time overall at the meet with a 22.81. Godsoe, however, despite being the last man into the final, was the only swimmer who dropped time in that medal round. That’s a slightly different format from this meet, but it’s still three rounds, and it’s still the best indicator, perhaps, that we have.
Bousquet took bronze at Worlds, and Targett is the only of the four who failed to final.
I liked Josh Schneider in this race. He’s an intense, immensely powerful swimmer who is oft overlooked despite placing in the top 4 in the 50 free at both the 2012 Olympic Trials and the 2013 World Championship Trials.
Most of our pickers, specifically Alex, Bobby, and Eric, liked Gilot.
Ress again cited the relative endurance of Gilot, thinking that would advantage him in the final: “Gilot, might not have the pure speed that Schneider has, but what he lacks in speed he makes up for in endurance. His 100 split at worlds leads me to believe he’ll be able to string together three good 50s.”
Nico picked Matthew Abood for the win on the basis of his height: “Abood is a tall guy, and will have the advantage on the touch.”
Medley Relay
This one’s the game changer, worth the same number of points as two individual events. Nobody really liked the French with their sort of being forced to put Manaudou, the Olympic 50 free champion, on the backstroke leg. Other than that, picks were pretty divided.
Bobby and Nico both picked the Australians. Hurley made an interesting point: the Australians have a shorter turnaround on their domestic season and Trials than other countries do, so they generally get back into training quicker than other countries.
Coach Alex picked his home team, but so did Ress. Ress had the Brazilians 1st, Australia 2nd, USA 3rd, and France 4th. He thinks that the Brazilians will have the home-field advantage, and that Orzechowski will need to get them clean water to have a shot.
Ress also put some faith in the internationally-underheralded Alan Vitoria, Brazil’s fourth-string anchor that was called up for this meet, noting that he’s been a 22.2 and is no slouch on their back end.
I will stand alone as the selector of the Americans, and think I need to cite little else but this: SCOREBOARD.
In 2012, the same American foursome won this relay. Schneider is probably better since then, and Godsoe is like a whole different swimmer since then.
None of the other teams really got better since that meet. Sure, the Australians get to stick Sprenger in the breaststroke leg, but they lose Magnussen as their anchor. The Brazilians pick up Santos as their butterflier, but lose Fratus as their anchor. The French are forced to move Manaudou to backstroke (taking the spot of French 50 back champion Dorian Gandin) and put Gilot on anchor. That’s probably about a wash.
The Americans, though, are a better relay than they were. And they know how to swim relays. Better relays win.
Check out how the picks stack up below, with each selector represented by their national flag of citizenship:
Raia Rapida Graphic 2013

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My picks:
Florent Manaudou
Christian Sprenger
Eugene Godsoe
Fabian Gilot
United states

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. 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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