Cesar Cielo Returning to Auburn, Leaves Brazilian Team He Founded

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, February 15. BRAZILIAN blogger Alexander Pussieldi has reported today that the country's best sprinter, Cesar Cielo, is returning to the United States to work with Auburn University head coach Brett Hawke and leaving behind the postgraduate team he helped create in 2011.

Under the PRO 2016 team, Cielo did not have the results he wanted at the 2012 Olympics. He was unable to defend his title in the 50 freestyle, placing third behind winner Florent Manaudou and silver medalist Cullen Jones. He also failed to win a medal in the 100 free in London. Cielo, however, performed well at the 2011 world championships, winning the 50 fly and 50 free, and placing third in the 100 free.

Under Hawke's direction, however, Cielo was able to make a major breakthrough on the international stage, winning the 50 free gold at the 2008 Olympics and breaking the world records in the 50 and 100 freestyles at the 2009 world championships. Cielo's decision to start the PRO 2016 team was to help create a stable of fast swimmers that will be ready for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. Though Cielo was unable to turn that venture into gold for himself, Thiago Pereira found success, winning silver in the 400 IM in London, his first Olympic medal in his third Olympiad.

According to Pussieldi's entry in Blog do Coach (in Portuguese), Cielo is expected to return to Auburn next month, after the NCAA championships. In the meantime, Cielo is working in Brazil with Scott Goodrich, an Auburn alum who trained with Cielo when they were both student-athletes, and was an NCAA finalist in the 50 free.

It's not clear if Cielo's time in Auburn is a full-time gig, or if he will divide his time with Hawke and Goodrich. What is known is that PRO 2016 head coach Alberto Pinto is restructuring the team in Rio, and that will include many of the athletes who were part of the PRO 2016 program. No word has surfaced on Pereira's future involvement with Pinto's new club.