As Brazilian swimmer Luiz Altamir flipped during his 400 free and popped into first place, the crowd erupted into cheers.
It was clear the crowd was heavy with Brazilians because it was mainly silent for other countries.
Daniel Beisel, whose sister is Olympic swimmer Elizabeth Beisel, has been to three Olympic Games and said the atmosphere at prelims was the best he’s ever seen.
Normally, the prelims sessions are quieter, without much cheering, Beisel said. But whenever a Brazilian swimmer stepped up to the block, or was in the top few spots at the wall, the stadium erupted in cheers.
“The Brazilians are so into it, which I love,” Beisel said. “They love their athletes and their sports. Previous prelims sessions were more quiet—not anything like this.”
The Brazilians are showing their pride for being the host country in the best way they can: by going to as many events as possible. And it’s easy to tell who the Brazilians are, since they’re all decked out in yellow and green shirts, waving flags and yelling.
They chanted “Brazil” after any good races by their swimmers, happy with any high finishes. The seats were only about 75-percent filled, but with the noise they were making, it made it seem packed.
Guilherme Andrade, a Rio resident, said the national pride comes from the country’s love of sports. Soccer and volleyball are popular sports in Brazil, but the Games gives the country a chance to experience sports they may not have seen before.
But it’s also a chance to share their culture with the rest of the world.
“It’s a time to show our country to the world,” Andrade said. “We’re a really open-air city, with sports on the beach and all that.”
Andrade has tickets for 15 events, including swimming and judo. He’s taking advantage of the opportunity to learn about as many sports as possible. He lives close to the arenas, so he figured he might as well see the events.
The Olympics are being held in South America for the first time, so this is many Brazilians’ first chance to see an Olympic event in person.
“We want to be a part of it, it’s a huge event,” Andrade said.
Christiano Moreiri drove from his home in São Paulo to watch the Olympics and to join in the festivities.
“It’s a different kind of party and a kind of magic,” Moreiri said. “I’m very happy to be here with my family.”
He too is filled with pride that his country was able to organize this big of an event.
“It’s very good to show the world how Brazilians are, and that we can organize this big party,” Moreiri said. “I’m very proud.”
Kara Berg is a Ball State University student and writer for BSU at the Games, a group of 50 journalism students traveling from Muncie, Indiana, to Rio for the Olympic Games. Follow them at bsuatthegames.com, @bsuatthegames on Twitter and Instagram, and BSU at the Games on Facebook.