A Cardinal in Brazil

A total of seven swimmers, either current or former members of the University of Louisville team, will compete in the Olympics next month in Rio. Joao De Lucca will swim in his home country. He has already competed in the Olympic venue, swimming in the Brazilian trials in the pool. De Lucca won the NCAA Championship in the 200-freestyle in 2013 and 2014 and added the 100-freestyle in ’14. De Lucca also represented Brazil in the 2012 Olympics in London.

Are you worried at all about your home country pulling this off?
It’s not so much worrying about it. The only thing I have to do is go there and swim. If it’s ready, if it’s not, I cannot control. I’m not even reading the news. I’m just focusing on what I need to do every day.

How beneficial is the experience of having gone through an Olympic games?
Going for the second time to the Olympics, I’m definitely more ready. I already know what the village looks like. I’m very familiar with the dining hall, which, for a lot of people can lead to a lot of distractions. It’s so amazing – you have access to food 24/7 and there is free McDonald’s for everybody, so it can get very distracting. I think I have a slight advantage with the fact that I’ve been to London. I experienced how it is to live in the village, and definitely going home to swim the Olympics is a big thing. I’m very excited.

Did any of your family go to London?
My dad. He was there in London to cheer for me. He had such a great time. Now, I believe my whole family.

How many people are we talking about?
Everybody is fighting to get tickets. It has been hard to get tickets, but so far, I have three tickets, which I am going to give to my family. And then I’m sure a lot of friends and family have bought some to watch me swim. It’s not every day that we have Olympics at home.

You swam in the actual Olympic pool. What can you say about it?
It’s phenomenal. It’s the first time they are going to host Olympics or even World Championship in a pool surrounded by stands all around the pool. It literally looks like an arena. There will be noise coming from everywhere.

Does that speed you up in the pool?
It’s very exciting. It’s exciting, but at the same time, it can be very distracting. If you don’t know how to deal with it, it does get loud, but at the moment when you are about to get into the pool, you have to block everything out. You’re not supposed to listen to anything. You’re not supposed to be looking around. You are there to swim, so that’s what you have to do best.

What events will you swim?
I’m participating in the 200-freestyle, the 400-free relay and the 800-free relay.

What are your expectations for yourself? What will you be happy with?
Just swimming at the Olympics, I’m already happy. I think every athlete, they chase to beat themselves, so if I can improve my time, it doesn’t matter what position I get. I’m going to be very, very proud because going fast at a scenario like the Olympics, being able to drop your time – it’s something amazing. Then you are ready for everything.

You also get all kinds of new gear. What’s the best thing you got in London?
The swim cap with my name on it with the flag on the side. It means a lot once you represent your country. Swimming is an individual sport, but the amazing thing is when there is something bigger than yourself that you’re representing. I’m very blessed that I get to represent my country.

You are also representing UofL swimming. How much different is UofL swimming now compared to when you got here?
Coming to UofL, it was a game changer because swimming for me was always an individual sport. I never participated in any big team. My club team was only me and a few guys. We never acted as a team. We never supported each other in a way that helps you during a race. I was representing the school, which was giving me an amazing thing: the education. Being able to swim for UofL was great because I have awesome friends and awesome coaches. VT