Junior Joao De Lucca of No. 16 Louisville (1-2, 0-1 BIG EAST) has enjoyed a stellar beginning to the 2012-13 swimming and diving season. De Lucca excelled at the 2012 AT&T Winter National Championships in Austin, Texas on Nov. 29 to Dec. 1. The junior swam against -and also defeated- Olympic medalists in three events; the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyles.
On the first day of the Winter Nationals, De Lucca placed fourth overall in the 50 freestyle with a time of 19.61 seconds. Olympic gold medalists Matthew Grevers and Davis Tarwater took first and second respectively with marks of 18.88 and 19.36. Grevers is a six-time Olympian and recently won the gold in the 100 backstroke in the 2012 Summer Games in London. Tarwater won gold in London as a member of the 4x200 freestyle relay team.
De Lucca's time in the 50 is a school record and the 19.61-second mark is also the fifth fastest time among NCAA swimmers so far this season. He finished 0.03 seconds ahead of another Olympian, Garrett Weber-Gale. Weber-Gale was a two-time gold medal winner at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a member of the 4x100 freestyle relay and 4x100 medley relay. The 4x100 freestyle that also featured Cullen Jones, Jason Lezak and Michael Phelps has been heralded as the best relay in the history of swimming.
The junior from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, returned to the pool the following day and finished second in the 200 freestyle. His mark of 1:32.57 is the fastest time in the NCAA and placed him ahead of Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte and two-time NCAA Champion Clay Youngquist from Texas. Lochte won two-gold medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics as a member of the 800 freestyle relay team and in the 400 individual medley. He also earned two silvers and one bronze to add to his collection and has previously won the World Swimmer of the Year and American Swimmer of the Year awards in 2010 and 2011.
De Lucca placed second in the 200 behind another two-time Olympic Gold medalist, Ricky Berens. Berens won gold in 2008 and 2012 as a member of the 4x200 relay teams that featured Lochte and Phelps.
De Lucca concluded his stellar meet on Dec. 1 when he competed in the 100 freestyle. He finished second with a school-record mark of 42.05, the fastest time in the NCAA. He placed behind Grevers and ahead of Berens. De Lucca also finished the final 50 yards of the event ahead of Grevers with a time of 21.75 compared to 21.98.
"Joao has put in very solid two years of highly focused work, and his performances in Austin showed he is on the right track," said head coach Arthur Albiero.
The junior competed and also defeated some of the best swimmers in the world at the Winter National Championships. He has been a major contributor to the Cardinals' No. 16 ranking and has been named BIG EAST Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week on two consecutive occasions.