Still More Trouble Brewing in Brazilian Federation: PRO 16, World Championship Qualifying Comes Under Fire

The past year has been a controversial one in the Brazilian federation. It started last summer when the country’s main superstar Cesar Cielo failed to perform as well as expected at their major international event of 2010: the Pan Pac Championships. He then decided to return home to Brazil, from his old training grounds at Auburn, which should have been a boon for Brazilian Swimming.

Not so, however, as since that time there has been nothing but drama.

First, there was a very public spat between Cielo and Brazilian Swimming president Coarcy Nunes, where “Poder” magazine reported that Cielo had suggested that Nunes resign. Cielo later denied the reports, and claimed that the two men had repaired their relationship from debates when they were younger, but it was clear that there was still some bad-blood there.

Then, Cielo announced the formation of his PRO 16 training group, with the idea of collecting a group of Brazil’s absolute best swimmers and forming them into a single training group. Originally, indications were that this group would provide financial scholarships and sponsorship support for it’s athletes.

Now, however, this seemingly well-intentioned and high-potential group has hit a brick wall. In Brazil, swimmers are paid representatives of their home clubs, unlike in the United States where most of their funding comes from USA-Swimming. Swimmers there are treated very much like other professional athletes in team sports are treated in the United States. Cielo, for example, is under a huge contract with football powerhouse Flamengo, that has among it’s roster of stars Ronaldhino. So you can see why it wouldn’t sit well for these clubs to have their best athletes leave town and go train with another group. Specifically, the club Pinheiros, one of Brazil’s best, has given what is described as an “ultimatum” to three of its athletes involved in the project: Leonardo de Deus, Tales Cerdeira and Henrique Rodrigues.

Cielo is defending the group by stating that it is “simply a training group,” and nothing more. The athletes would still compete for their home clubs at all competitions, and thus remain under contract with those teams. But it remains to be seen whether or not the athletes can work out a smooth operation with their base clubs, though it seems by all non-commercial accounts that this PRO 2016 team would be a huge boon for the Brazilian National Team program.

This improvement will only continue, however, if the Brazilian federation stops shooting itself in the foot. This is because they have set qualifying standards for the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai at a much faster level than FINA did. The Brazilians have three opportunities to earn a top-2 National Ranking and qualifying, and with the first one being last summer’s Pan Pac Championships, this leaves nearly three-quarters of the National Team without a ticket to Shanghai.

This is going to really hamper the Brazilian squad, as one of their great advantages over larger swimming nations like the United States and Australia is the relative ease for which they qualify for International Championships. This prevents them from having to burn tapers just a few months out in order to top their domestic competitions. So far, only 8 swimmers have met the marks, including only one woman: Fabiola Molina.

Swimmers yet to earn their spots include Guilherme Guido and Nicolas Oliveira, both of whom earned bronze relay medals at December’s Dubai World Championships.

For a country that should have been ecstatic about the growing number of athletes that it has automatically qualified for international competition, this could trigger a huge reversal in fortune.

Here’s the comparison of some of FINA’s Automatic Qualifying standards versus Brazil’s.


Event FINA Auto Qualifying Brazilian Qualifying
50m freestyle 22.35 22.13
100m freestyle 49.23 48.74
200m freestyle 1:48.72 1:47.63
400m freestyle 3:49.96 3:49.13
800m freestyle 8:10.26 7:54.10
1500m freestyle 15:13.16 15:10.16
50m backstroke 25.34 25.02
100m backstroke 55.14 54.59
200m backstroke 1:59.72 1:58.52
50m breaststroke 27.63 27.50
100m breaststroke 1:01.57 1:00.95
200m breaststroke 2:13.69 2:11.90
50m butterfly 23.73 23.35
100m butterfly 52.86 52.33
200m butterfly 1:57.67 1:56.90
200m IM 2:01.40 2:00.19
400m IM 4:18.40 4:16.42


Event FINA Auto Qualifying Brazilian Qualifying
50m freestyle 25.43 25.20
100m freestyle 55.24 54.69
200m freestyle 1:59.29 1:58.20
400m freestyle 4:11.26 4:08.75
800m freestyle 8:35.96 8:32.82
1500m freestyle 16:41.49 17:10.88
50m backstroke 29.07 28.17
100m backstroke 1:01.70 1:01.08
200m backstroke 2:12.73 2:11.40
50m breaststroke 31.52 31.12
100m breaststroke 1:09.01 1:08.32
200m breaststroke 2:28.21 2:26.73
50m butterfly 26.68 26.25
100m butterfly 59.35 58.76
200m butterfly 2:10.84 2:09.53
200m IM 2:15.27 2:13.92
400m IM 4:45.08 4:42.23


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Interesting is, this decision of setting harder standards than the FINA ones was made by coaches from the permanent counseling of coaches which is formed by 6 coaches + a representant from the federation. They say it’s a jump of quality to push swimmers for better performances. Personally I find it to soon to take such a step. It’s not like our trials will have 8 swimmers inside the FINA standards fighting for 2 spots, so why do this? In fact I see good chances of many swimmers doing th FINA standards but missing the new cuts by tenths of second. Don’t see how this will help our swimming, but it’s wait to see what happens now. Hopefully it turns… Read more »

Braden, womens 100 back qualifying time is 1.01.08.
Full rules here(In portuguese):


And are 9 the number of athletes with marks for world champs.Besides Cielo,Rodrigues,De Deus,Cerdeira and Molina,They are:
Bruno Fratus(50 free)
Felipe Lima(100 breast)
Kaio Marcio(Fly)
Thiago Pereira(Medley events)

Braden, the MAIN problem is the brazillian federation is stocked with politicians, they are more concerned about their own goals than swimming scene.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

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