To top medals tally or finish among top five, you must have a good squad of swimmers. This has been mostly true in swimming, where the high expectation caused by the competition level of the American and Canadian teams made Brazilians to surpass themselves and fight for a place in the medal table.
It is the case of the Brazilian athlete Leonardo de Deus, three-time Pan American champion in the 200 m butterfly event. He randomly entered the final list in the continental multi-sport event, as the suspension of Gabriel Silva for doping gave him the chance to make history with his team.
Léo de Deus is proud of his military origin as sergeant of the Army of his country. This explains the martial salute he made to his flag at the award ceremony, as did by his teammate Joao Gomes, who competed for hist first Pan American Games, at the age of 33, and conquered the 100 m breaststroke.
Another elite member is Pedro Henrique Spajari, who destroyed the Pan American record with his team in the 4×100 m freestyle relay and defeated the American team lead by Nathan Adrian, multiple times Olympic and world medalist. Spajari overcame a rare syndrome that affected his motor functions when he was 20. As a sergeant of the Brazilian air force, he sang with honor the anthem of his country, from the top of the podium.
“Winning my first gold medal in this kind of competition is really special. We prepared a lot to win this qualification to the Olympic Games, in my case, by overcoming personal problems. In addition, I am proud of representing the Armed Forces of my country because it helped me a lot in my life,” he said.
The first day of swimming was important for Peru too, for the new Peruvian records set by Paula Tamashiro (100 m breaststroke, set in 2008) and Samantha Bello (400 m freestyle). In addition, fans enjoyed Silvana Cabrera´s victory in the 200 m butterfly B final.