March 19, 2010

By Judd Spicer
Special to

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Friday at the Division III Swimming and Diving Championships, the longest-standing record at this event fell to John Dillon of Middlebury College (Vermont).

Maybe the eight championship records broken in the first two days pointed to this. Dillon swam the 200 butterfly in 1 minute, 45.01 seconds to break Pedro Monteiro's mark of 1:45.19, set in 1997. Monteiro, of Kenyon College set the record in the prelims that year en route to capturing the third of his four NCAA titles in the event. The record was one of just two 1990s records still standing in Division III, for men's and women's team and individual competition.

Monteiro is credited as being Kenyon's first recruit from South America, and his arrival opened a pipeline for Brazilian student-athletes attending Kenyon. Last year, Monteiro was inducted into the Lords' Hall of Fame. Reached via e-mail in his native Rio de Janiero, Brazil, Monteiro took a moment to recall his swim of '97:

"Like most of my top races, I remember feeling very smooth, effortless," Monteiro remembers. "I remember Coach (Jim) Steen's content expression while I was still in the pool. But most of all, I remember thinking that I could have gone faster. The time would have placed third, I think, at D I Nationals that year, and I remember thinking that I could have been the fastest from all divisions."

While Monteiro keeps close tabs on both the sport and his alma matter, he admits that he wasn't aware of the lasting gravity of that race 13 years ago.

"I had the chance to attend Nationals last year and noticed that the record was still standing," he continued. "But I didn't realize that it was the longest-active in D III. It's hard to believe that 13 years have passed since that day."

Despite the distance between his Brazilian home and Kenyon's location in Gambier, Ohio, Monteiro continues to stay in touch with his former coach. And while he'll never forget Steen's lessons in the pool, it's perhaps the former swimmer's first interaction with Steen that lives in the deepest waters of his memory.

"I still speak to Coach Steen, a person I care a lot about," Monteiro said. "Coach is a very intelligent and gifted individual who is able to combine those qualities with a perseverance and work ethic that, even in the sporting world, is hard to find.

"My first contact with coach resulted in one of my favorite stories involving the big guy," Monteiro remembers. "In my senior year of high school, I got a phone call from this Coach Steen from Kenyon College. I had applied to Kenyon a few months earlier after receiving information about the school in a college fair event. To my surprise, coach had called to tell me that my times were probably not good enough for Kenyon.

"After he went on-and-on about how I should, perhaps, consider another team, I interrupted him and asked which times he was considering. As soon as he answered, I realized that he had made a mistake. He thought that my meter times were actually my yard times (a meter is about 10 percent more than a yard). When I pointed out the mistake, his tone of voice changed and could almost see him getting up from his chair, something he did whenever he got excited. Then, he went on-and-on about how going to any other place would be a huge mistake. The 10 percent made a 100 percent difference."

After his Hall of Fame career at Kenyon, Monteiro's competitive drive kicked harder than ever.

"I left Kenyon with one dream left: Making it to the Olympics," Monteiro continues. "I had come close in 1996, but that hadn't happened."

Monteiro continued his quest for the Olympics and went on to win a medal at the 2003 Pan Am Games in the 200 butterfly, but in 2004 was 6/10ths of a second short of qualifying for the Athens Games.

"I gave it a shot, with all I had, and didn't make it," Monteiro said. "It was a huge disappointment. But it also taught me a very important lesson about the way I approach anything that I care a lot about. Sometimes, less is a lot more."

But Monteiro would still find those Olympic dreams realized, except that he was donning a different type of suit.

"Life plays tricks on you," he says. "After working with investment banking and a few other things, I got a job at the Brazilian Olympic Committee. And this time, the 'Olympic experience' was very rewarding to me."

Brazil secured the 2016 Summer Games last year, but Monteiro left the Olympic Committee to start his own business. And, like a fish to water, Monteiro has rarely strayed far from the pool. Today, he continues his achievements in the swim world with a professional venture that mirrors the achievements of his record -setting, NCAA career.

"After spending three great years with the Brazilian Olympic Committee, I left to start my own sports marketing agency," Monteiro concludes "Effect Sport is now two years old and employs 16 people."

The company hosts well-known open-water races in Brazil and Europe.