The usual Maria Lenk Cup was held last week in Rio de Janeiro where swimmers could qualify for the World Championships hosted by Budapest. The greatest surprise came when the prominent veteran of swimming in Brazil, Nicholas Santos swam 22.61 in 50 m butterfly. No one swam quite that time this year, moreover, this is the second best time of all times in the world. Shortly after the Cup the Brazilian Federation announced the roster for the World Championships.
The main event of the 37-year-old sprint swimmer from Sao Paolo is 50 m butterfly, but he has great achievements in shorter freestyle events (50 and 100 m), too. So much so that back in 2001 he qualified for his first World Championships in 50 m freestyle. Although a year later he broke the South American short course record of 50 m butterfly by his time of 23.82, for several years he continued freestyle and breached the South American record of 50 m freestyle in 2004 (with his time of 21.32) coming really close to the world record of Frédérick Bousquet (21.10) at the time. The same year he won his first individual medal at the short course World Championships in Indianapolis claiming bronze in 50 m freestyle. As a member of the 4X100 freestyle relay he won a silver medal.
Afterwards, he was among the top swimmers of the world for years, he had to wait until 2009 to accomplish extraordinary results though. In 2009 he breached the American record in 50 m butterfly by his time of 22.87 and two months later in a short course tournament he swam 20.90 in 50 m freestyle becoming the first South American swimmer to go under 21 seconds in this event. Still in November, 2009 at the FINA World Cup in Singapore he triumphed both in 50 m butterfly and freestyle. In the meantime he breached the short course South American records multiple times, swimming 22.17 first and 22.16 later in butterfly, and 22.16 then 20.74 in freestyle.
His next outstanding achievement came in 2012 at the age of 32 claiming gold with 22.22 in 50 m butterfly at the short course World Championships in Istanbul. A year later at the FINA World Cup in Beijing he breached his previous South American record in the same event setting the new one at 22.13. He did his best to defend his title against Olympic and world champion swimmer, Chad le Clos in his best event at the World Championships in Doha, 2014. Although he swam a record time of 22.08 his South African rival proved to be more successful achieving 21.95.
Probably his most important medal was claimed in 2015 (aged 35 at the time) at the World Championships in Kazan. He finished second in his favourite event, 50 m butterfly becoming the oldest medallist in the history of World Championships.
In addition to his great results in individual events, obviously Nicholas Santos was participating in Brazilian relay teams, as well. With the 4X50 m medley relay they became world champions by world record time in 2014 in Doha.
Prior to the World Championships in Budapest the current time of Santos is more than promising. Particularly in the light of the fact that no one has come that close to the world record swam by Rafa Munoz in April, 2009 (at the time of super dresses) recently.
“My real motivation is to break my previous records. This is the reason why I still enter the pool today. Back then, when I swam 22.80 only, I was rather far from the world record but now I could get quite close. I need to refine a few things and we shall see. I owe a lot to my new coach, Felipe Domingues” – Santos said about his great result in an interview.
Top 5 results of men’s 50 m butterfly (in 50 m pool):
1. Rafael Munoz, 22.43 (2009)
2. Nicholas Santos 22.61 (2017)
3. Milorad Cavic, 22.67 (2009)
4. Andriy Govorov,22.69 (2016)
5. Matt Target, 22.73 (2009)
(Although Roland Schoeman features in FINA rankings with his time of 22.57, this was not achieved at an official tournament thus it is considered as his personal best only.)
On 11 May the Brazilian Federation announced swimmers’ roster for the World Championships in Budapest.
Felipe Lima – 100 breaststroke
Gabriel Santos – 100 freestyle
João Gomes Junior – 100 breaststroke
Thiago Simon – 200 breaststroke
Leonardo de Deus – 200 butterfly
Marcelo Chierighini – 100 freestyle
Henrique Martins – 100 butterfly
Guilherme Guido – 100 backstroke
Brandonn Almeida – 400 medley
Bruno Fratus – 50 freestyle
Guilherme Costa – 1500 freestyle
Etiene Medeiros – 50 freestyle
Cesar Cielo – 50 freestyle
Nicholas Santos – 50 butterfly
Manuella Lyrio – 200 freestyle
Joanna Maranhão – 400 medley