At the Maria Lenk Trophy in Brazil, Olympic champion Cesar Cielo screamed his intention to defend the 50m freestyle crown at London 2012 with a 21.38 blast that fell just 0.02sec shy of the best-ever in a textile suit. Bruno Fratus took silver in 21.76, after a 21.70 in heat that left him at world No2 so far this season after the final.
Those two, leading James Magnussen's 21.74 at Australian nationals, will this summer race the dash in London for Brazil, a nation whose progress in world waters has been something of as double-edged sword of late, with better times and status sadly coinciding with several brushes with anti-doping authorities that resulted in penalties from warnings to suspensions, including second-offence bans.
The all-time textile best in the 50m is now held by former Auburn training partner Fred Bousquet (FRA), on 21.36 in the semi-final at the European Championships in 2010, unable to make the cut for London 2012 at French trials last month and third in Rio on 21.79, best of France this season - but too late. Cielo claimed the world crown under championship pressure in 21.52 last summer and remains favourite for gold in London.
The all-time top 5 in textile:
The best times of Fratus and Magnussen this season rank No 7 and 8 on the all-time list.
Elsewhere, Thiago Pereira dominated the 200m medley final with a 1:57.11 victory, second in the world this year after the untapered effort of Olympic champion Michael Phelps (USA), on 1:56.32 at the latest US grand prix. Pereira's previous textile personal best had been 1:57.35, clocked last year, while the Brazil record stands to him at 1:55.55, clocked in full shiny suit in the world titles final in 2009. Silver in Rio today went to Henrique Rodrigues in a lifetime best of 1:58.91 that delivered a ticket to London 2012.
In other events, Denmark's Jeannette Ottesen won the 50m free in 25.06, after 24.98 in heats, and then returned to take the 100m butterfly in 58.64 ahead of Daynara Paula, among those who had a brush with anti-doping, on 59.23, just outside Olympic FINA A cut. The women's 200m medley went to Joanna Maranhao over Spain's untapered Mireia Belmonte, 2:14.63 to 2:14.66.
Henrique Silva clocked 52.46 to win the 100m butterfly just outside A cut. Silver went to Kaio Almeida, inside A cut in heats on 52.29, but on 52.62 in the final, a pattern mirrored by Marcos Macedo, on 52.40 to make the final but on 53.09 in the final, and Gabriel Mangabeira, 52.42 heat, 53.14 final. Brazilians have become accustomed to racing fast in the morning, when finals are often held. This year, the format meets worldwide tradition for a change: morning heats, afternoon finals.
No qualifiers in the 1500m freestyle, Luis Arapiraca clocking 15:22.73 to fend off two others within two seconds of him, Lucas Kanieski on 15:22.95, and Marcos Ferrari de Oliveira, on 15:24.50.