Bruno Fratus and Cesar Cielo Set Pool Ablaze In 50 Free Final At Maria Lenk Trophy Meet

Bruno Fratus
Photo Courtesy: Mike Comer/

The third day of the Maria Lenk Trophy meet, where Brazil’s best swimmers are racing for spots on the Pan American Games and world championship teams, featured one of the most anticipated battles of the competition in the men’s 50 freestyle.

After a 21.91 in prelims this morning that put him second in the world, Bruno Fratus appeared to be the one to beat in the 50 free final. But in the field was reigning world champion Cesar Cielo, as well as other heavy hitters such as 19-year-old Matheus Santana and NCAA standout Marcelo Chierighini. Cielo had the better start, but Fratus came roaring back in the final 15 meters. Fratus and Cielo lunged for the wall at the same time, and the crowd erupted when Fratus’ time failed to appear on the scoreboard. A moment later, Fratus’ fans went crazy when they saw that he had won with a 21.74 with Cielo second with a 21.84. The Brazilian duo are ranked second and third in the world behind Florent Manaudou’s 21.57 from last week. Cielo won the world title in 2013 with a 21.32, so he and his coaches in Brazil and the United States have much work to do to give Cielo the opportunity to possibly become the second man to win four consecutive world titles in the same event. The same goes for Fratus as well if he is to break through and win a world championship medal. The rest of the field tonight was fighting for third at the 35-meter mark, with Alan Vitoria taking bronze with a 22.28 while Chierighini was three tenths behind in eighth with a 22.53.

The foursome of Joanna Maranhao, Manuella Lyrio, Gabriele Roncatto and Larissa Oliveira broke the Brazilian and South American record in the 800 free relay with an 8:03.22, beating the time of 8:05.29 that a Brazilian squad at the 2004 Olympics that included Maranhao.

A mistimed finish cost Etienne Medeiros the opportunity to lower her national record of 24.74 in the 50 freestyle, but her 24.78 was good enough to win and automatically place her on the world championship roster after just missing Brazil’s standard in the 100 back on day one. Though the male sprinters garner the most attention, Medeiros could find herself in the world championship final with that time, as it took a 24.91 to make the top eight in the women’s 50 free in 2013. Graciele Hermann almost got Medeiros at the finish, qualifying for worlds with a 24.95. Medeiros ranks sixth in the world and Hermann is 12th globally.

Thiago Pereira is now set to return to the world championships to equal or improve on the bronze medal he won in the 400 IM in 2013, posting a smooth and controlled time of 4:13.94. That puts him third in the world behind the swims done by Japan’s Kosuke Hagino and Daiya Seto. Pereira was 4:09.48 at the world championships in 2013, and will be looking to dip under 4:10 in order to put himself in medal contention in Kazan.

One day after breaking through with a national record in the 1500 free last night, Brandon Almeida earned another swim for the world championships with a runner-up time of 4:15.82 that ranks fourth in the world so far in 2013. Almeida continues to have a stellar meet, dropping two seconds off his lifetime best to make his mark a year before his home country hosts the Olympics. Thiago Simon was on Pereira’s hip after butterfly but faded back through the remaining three strokes to place third with a 4:19.28.

Almost 12 years since qualifying for her first international squad in the 400 individual medley as a 15-year-old, Joanna Maranhao continues to dominate the event in Brazil. Winning by seven meters, Maranhao nearly took down her 11-year-old national record of 4:40.00 from the 2004 Olympics with a 4:40.57 tonight. That comfortably qualifies her for a fourth world championships berth to go along with her previous appearances in 2003, 2005 and 2009. It’s Maranhao’s first time under 4:41 since 2011, signaling perhaps a resurgence for the 27-year-old, who stands in a tie for 13th in the world with Japan’s Miyu Otsuka. Argentina went 2-3 in the final tonight, with Florencia Perotti second with a 4:46.95, while Virginia Bardach was third in 4:47.88.

Carolina Bilich looked to be in control of the final heat of the women’s 800 freestyle, but Samantha Arevalo of Ecuador wanted another win to go along with the 1500 free victory from Monday. Arevalo kicked into another gear at the 650-meter mark and bolted ahead of Bilich to win by two body lengths with an 8:39.26. Bilich hung in to place second with an 8:40.79, while Poliana Okimoto took third with an 8:43.44.

2015 Maria Lenk Trophy Meet, Day 3 – Results