MMA’s Ruas Deluca picks up two more state medals in state swim meet

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 11/15/23

Missouri Military Academy’s Tiago Ruas Deluca was “on top of this world” late last week.

The swimmer who medaled in the 500-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke at the Class …

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MMA’s Ruas Deluca picks up two more state medals in state swim meet


Missouri Military Academy’s Tiago Ruas Deluca was “on top of this world” late last week.

The swimmer who medaled in the 500-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke at the Class 1 state swimming meet last year earned two state medals in this year’s state meet on Thursday and Friday at the St. Peters Rec-Plex in St. Peters. Ruas Deluca finished second in the 100-yard butterfly with a season-best time of 50:80 and also was fourth in the 200-yard freestyle with a season-best time of 1:43:43.

Head coach Matthias McManus said he was happy how all the Colonels did last week at state as everybody swam better times than they had all season. Paulo Pereira de Abreu Donabella qualified for the second straight year in the 100-yard breaststroke, finishing with a better place and time in 12th at 1:01.08 than 13th last year with a 1:01.84; the 200-yard freestyle relay team of Batbileg Bataa, Pereira de Abreu Donabella, Malachi Imrie and Ruas Deluca missed qualifying for the finals by six one-hundreths of a second with a time of 1:35.10 but finished 19th out of 29 teams; and the 200-yard medley relay team of Imrie, Pereira de Abreu Donabella, Bataa and Gabriel Iglesias Osorio finished 28th out of 33 teams with a time of 1:52.08.

“We tapered that whole week, or reduced our workload,” McManus said. “I’ve never believed in it, but this week, it made me a believer of it because it made everybody rested and well-prepared for the meet on Thursday. I didn’t see how we were going to drop any time, but we all dropped time. Every swimmer that swam dropped time.”

McManus said he encourages the Colonels to have a workout plan in the summer to ensure MMA doesn’t fall behind the kids that swim year-round and “stepped it up” this past offseason. That works wherever as it has for the Brazilians Ruas Deluca and de Abreu Donabella when they are at home and for the other cadets wherever there is a facility near their home like the YMCA, for instance. 

This year, McManus said scaling back the workouts helped in the week leading up to state. He said Olympic gold medalists like Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte have tried the tapering strategy and it has worked well for them so he made sure MMA did it right by watching videos and reading books about it.

“I tried it once, and I guess I didn’t do it right,” McManus said. “This time, I followed the directions. I reduced their workload, and we still worked out, but instead of doing 4,000, by the end of the week, we were only doing 1,200 yards. We still did dry land, but we didn’t do it as intensely as we did. We were lifting weights and doing dry land and then going swimming every other day. It all came together.”

Ruas Deluca was back at the state meet after medaling in two different events a year ago, finishing fourth in the 500-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke. This year, he had the fourth-best 200 free time in preliminaries with a 1:43.90 and then the third-best 100 fly preliminary time of 50:96. 

“He felt really good that day,” McManus said. “We ate breakfast, but we didn’t overeat so we were better prepared that second day for the finals. It looked like he was coming fourth place (in the 100 fly) as he was just sluggish off of his dive and starts and turns. All of a sudden, in the last length, he kicked it into gear and it looked like it all was tied — two, three and four were all tied. He touched the wall, and we all looked up and it was second place. It was one of those nail-biting moments, and you just had to be there.”

Pereira de Abreu Donabella didn’t medal at state this year, but McManus has high hopes for him after the season as he said they are aiming for YMCA nationals in North Carolina. 

“He’s going to have to work really hard to get down to the one-minute range,” McManus said. “He had a 1:01.08 in the breaststroke, and his best time last year was a 1:01:14. He’s doing even better this year than he did last year.”

McManus said the medley relay didn’t have Ruas Deluca in it because the event was the first of the championships and was scheduled right before the 200 free. He didn’t want to wear him out and hurt his chances for a state medal in the 200 free. The 200 free came close and just slipped out of contention.

“We hit the wall, but it was slick and we weren’t used to it,” McManus said. “It was a new wall for us. You had to do a flip turn on that one. Ruas on the 200 freestyle even said something about it. When we got there, he was prepared for it, but our first swimmer — Bataa — was not prepared for it and he skipped and made him come into the wall late, and when he came into the wall, he had a late takeoff. You keep rubbing something long enough, even though it’s got a lot of sand on it, it can rub smooth.”

Regardless of that, MMA tied with Grain Valley for 18th out of 58 Class 1 schools with 37 points. McManus said at least two really good swimmers are needed for a school to send swimmers to state and MMA had two good leaders in the Brazilians but had another emerge that served as an example for the Colonels this year.

“Bataa started the season swimming at a 32 (second) 50 freestyle, and at the end of the season, he was the third-fastest freestyler on the team behind the two Brazilian boys,” McManus said. “It was just phenomenal. It was a great season again this year.”