The daily Rio weather report, which has had a significant influence on this meet,
The two events that everyone was waiting for on Day 4 (finals session 3) at the Julio Delmare Complex were both breaststroke races, each of which had its own, unique storylines.
In the women’s race, American Jessica Hardy (Flamengo) was trying to become the first swimmer in a long, long time to beater her Trojan Aquatics teammate Rebecca Soni (Minas) in a 100 breaststroke final, and had hope after a very tight semi-final yesterday. Yet, this race showed what Rebecca Soni can do to “hope” (and probably the big reason why Hardy has said she’s not training breaststroke anymore), when Soni put her away in 1:05.7, which is a new Championship Record and also breaks her own mark as the fastest in the world this year. Soni won the race by over 3-tenths, but Hardy still managed to post a personal textile-best, and the second-best time in the world this year, in 1:06.13.
It must be tough to have to race someone as good as Soni every day and at every meet, but if Hardy swims this race in London, it would be a shocking upset if the Americans went less than 1-2.
The men’s 100 breaststroke final had a ton of buildup, after two-straight rounds where three swimmers went sub-1:01, but unlike the women’s race, the final failed to produce best times. The winner of the final was Felipe Silva of Pinheiros in 1:00.71, with his teammate Joao Gomes touching second in 1:01.10. Despite Gomes getting the silver medal and big points over Minas’ Felipe Lima, Lima got the last laugh as his 1:00.46 from prelims earns him the roster spot in Shanghai alongside Silva.
More significantly, the Brazilians have 4 breaststrokers in the world’s top-20, which is more than any other country aside from the impressive Japanese crew (the Americans’ highest ranked swimmer, Mark Gangloff, ranks only 32nd).
The men’s breaststrokers weren’t the only swimmers to earn spots in Shanghai on Day 4. Kaio Almeida (Fluminense) won the men’s 100 fly in 52.11, which gives him the 5th-best time in the world this year (including ahead of medal candidates Jason Dunford and Geoff Huegill) and seals up a position on the World Championship team. Almeida will be dangerous in July- his time was 6-tenths faster than he went last year, and only 1-tenth off of his career-best textile time in 2007. Look out for a spectacular swim in his preferred event, the 200 fly, where he could take a run at a world-best. Glauber Silva was 2nd in 52.99, which is a touch of an upset in a deep Brazilian butterfly field.
In the women’s 100 fly, Daynara de Paula picked up another big win for Minas in the women’s 100 fly with a win in 58.78. This was not her season-best time, but she already scored a World Championships qualifying time at Brazil’s Team Trials a few weeks ago.
In the men’s 400 free, Corinthians/Trojan Aquatics/Tunisian swimmer Ous Mellouli won in 3:51.51, which brings his Championship Record to two (along with the 1500 from day 2). The top Brazilian finisher was 20-year old Lucas Cruz Kanieski, who finished 3rd in 3:54.77. Along with teenager Giuliano Rocco (4th – 3:56.31), he gives some glimmer of hope for Brazilian distance swimming, where they have been historically bad.
In the women’s 400, another Corinthians swimmer, Poliana Okimoto took the win in 4:15.27, over a 4:15.84 from Minas’ Joanna Maranhao. This is Okimoto’s first win of the meet, though as we’ve mentioned did win the FINA Open Water 10k race on Saturday.
Ricky Berens, who is a member of the US National Team and another Trojan Aquatics swimmer, placed 6th in both the 100 fly (53.69) and 400 free (3:59.92).
After three finals sessions, Minas Tenis continues to extend their lead, and they now sit at 463 points. Corinthians, with more strong showings by their distance swimmers, holds on to second, and perennial power Pinheiros has passed Flamengo for 3rd.
1. Minas 1463
2. Corinthians 839
3. Pinheiros 753
4. Flamengo 691
5. Unisanta 412