Cesar Cielo Posts Third-Quickest 50 Free of 2014 To Start Maria Lenk Trophy

SAO PAULO, Brazil, April 21. The Maria Lenk Trophy meet, where the majority of athletes for Brazil’s team going to the Pan Pacific championships will be picked, opened today with two NCAA champions racing in the 200 free and a sizzling 50 free by Cesar Cielo.

Oliveira and de Lucca both got their qualifying out of the way in prelims today. With the qualifying standard set at 1:48.42, Oliveira (1:47.45) and de Lucca (1:48.30) were the first two names added to Brazil’s roster after the first session. In the finals, the two were side-by-side, with Oliveira leading by four tenths with a 52.29. Oliveira, part of Arizona’s championship team in 2008, pulled away on the third 50 to win with a 1:47.17. De Lucca, who won the 100 and 200 free last month at the NCAAs, struggled in the final 100 but managed to place second with a 1:49.01. Joao Amorim stormed home in the final 50 to place third with a 1:50.02.

A third name was added to the Pan Pacific roster during prelims, as Etiene Medeiros posted a lifetime best 1:00.77 in the women’s 100 back, under the qualifying time of 1:01.39. She couldn’t replicate that in finals, however, but won with a 1:01.37. With a 1:02.41, Natalia de Luccas placed second, and Florencia Perotti was third in 1:03.68.

A bit of an upset took place in the men’s 100 back, as Fabio Santi won the event and qualified for the Pan Pac team with a 54.32. Thiago Pereira was second in 54.90, just missing the qualifying time of 54.43, and national record holder Leonardo de Deus settled for third with a 55.24. World championship competitor Leonardo de Deus was fourth with a 55.43.

Poliana Okimoto, the reigning Swimming World Magazine female open water swimmer of the year, easily won the 1500 freestyle with a 16:47.44, a full 18 seconds off her national record. She was the only swimmer under 17 minutes today, as Ana da Cunha placed second with a 17:01.39 and Bianca Avella was third in 17:04.35.

No one was able to break two minutes today in the women’s 200 freestyle, which was missing world championship finalist Femke Heemskerk. The Dutch Olympic relay champion returned home last weekend after feeling ill. In her place, Larissa Oliveira won with a 2:00.73 over the 2:00.94 posted by Manuella Lyrio. Jessica Cavalheiro, the top seed in finals, captured third with a 2:01.56.

The 50 freestylers got the opportunity to test the waters today in the 200 freestyle relay to close out the session. Cesar Cielo, the Swimming World Magazine April cover personality, blazed through the leadoff leg for the Minas team with a 21.71, the third-fastest swim in the world behind Eamon Sullivan (21.65) and Florent Manaudou (21.70). He was the only one under 22 seconds, with Marcelo Chierighini’s 22.60 second-fastest among leadoff swims. Cielo’s swim helped Minas win the race with a 1:27.57 over Pinheiros (1:28.17) and Unisanta (1:29.37).

In the women’s 200 free relay, a 24.76 by Graciele Herman beat the 24.89 by Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu and the 24.98 by Holland’s Inge Dekker on leadoff legs. Hosszu broke her own national record of 25.19 with the swim. Herman’s swim is 11th-fastest in the global standings and breaks the national record of 24.98 by Flavia Delaroli swum in 2009. She also tied the continental record set by Venezuela’s Arlene Seneco in 2009. If Brazil allows leadoff legs to be counted for inclusion on the Pan Pac roster, Herman got her spot on the team with that swim. The Corinthians team, featuring Hosszu, de Luccas, Bruna Rocha and Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen Gray, broke the meet record of 1:40.63 with a 1:40.03. Ottesen Gray swam a quick 24.04 anchor leg to help the team win the event and break the record. Also breaking the meet record was Minas’ Dekker, Carolina Bergamaschi, Roberta Albino and Lorrane Ferreira with a 1:40.56 for second. Sesi was third with a 1:42.33.