The 2012 Sette Colli Trophy wrapped on Saturday with a big run on Meet Records. Almost every race had a big headline swim, but there were plenty of surprises, especially in the men’s 100 free.
Men’s 100 Free
This men’s 100 freestyle had an extremely tight finish between the top three, with Sebastian Verschuren winning the 100 free in 49.09 just ahead of Cuba’s Hanser Garcia (49.10) and Fabien Gilot (49.12). That’s the best swim of Garcia’s three-met run in Europe the last two weeks, and he continued to improve his start now that he’s training in much better facilities.
Marco Orsi was 4th in 49.30 as the top-finishing Italian.
Surprisingly absent from this final were a pair of World Championship finalists from last year – Cesar Cielo and Luca Dotto - as was the top sprinter in Italian hisotry Filipo Magnini. Dotto missed the finals altogether with a 50.53 in prelims, but Cielo was way off in the prelim in 50.01. But this has become the norm for him – he bounced back with a much better 49.07 in the final. Combined with heat winner Gregory Mallet of France (48.96), this B-Final had the top two times of the afternoon session.
Magnini was 3rd in that B-final in 49.34.
Among other notable finishes, Fabio Gimondi, who was part of the great Cal freshman sprint group last season, was 7th in the A-Final in 49.55, which is a best time for him. He’s been back in Italy training for the last month; this time leaves him as the 6th-fastest Italian sprinter this year, so he’s unlikely to be brought onto their deep, young 400 free relay. With Magnini aging, however, he could be in line to take over that spot in what should be a largely-intact relay by Rio. He will have to work on his opening speed though; he took this race out in only 24.4 (coming close to even-splitting, with a 25.1 on the way back).
Women’s 200 Freestyle
Federica Pellegrini wrapped up her middle-distance double by winning the 200 free in 1:56.32. This was another classic Pellegrini race with a 57.6-58.7 split in the race, two seconds better in the second 100 meters than runner-up Femke Heemskerk (1:57.15) who had a big lead at the halfway mark.
Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom was 3rd in 1:58.08; she finally showed a little life in this race, with a solid front-half, but she dropped-off nearly three seconds (57.7-1:00.3) on the back-half. She’s got more speed than most of the other contenders in this race for the Olympics (except for maybe Franklin and Heemskerk), but she’ll have to be a whole lot better off of the blocks to hold off closers like Muffat and Pellegrini.
Karin Prinsloo was 4th in 1:58.53.
Women’s 800 Freestyle
The women’s 800 free final was a great battle between South Africa’s Wendy Trott and Denmark’s Lotte Friis. Both swimmers were dead-even at the halfway mark, but after that Friis started to take control of the race. By the 700 meter mark, she had opened a gap of about three body-lengths, and would cruise to a finishing win in 8:22.10, followed closely by Trott in 8:25.71.
Those are season bests for both swimmers, and move them to 2nd (Friis) and 5th (Trott) in the world this year. Friis still has more to drop, but for Trott that’s a career best as well. Not a surprising time – she’s one of the best ever distance swimmers in yards – but she has been off for the last two-years plus in long course. Though it’s a best time, she should still be able to get faster in London.
Men’s 200 Backstroke
Japan’s Ryosuke Irie didn’t crack the 1:55 barrier again at this meet (something he’s made look so easy the last few years), but with a 1:55.05, he did set a new Championship Record, and add to his status as the fastest 200 backstroker in the world this year. He now has the five fastest times by anyone anywhere since last year’s World Championships.
Poland’s young backstroke star Radoslaw Kawecki, now with only this 200 to focus on as it’s the only race in which he made the Olympic Team, was good in 1:57.62; however, that still takes him down pretty hard from the European Championships just two weeks ago (where he swam a 1:55-low). Leonardo de Deus took 3rd in 1:58.79, which is really one of the better swims we’ve seen from the Brazilians at this meet so far.
Women’s 200 Backstroke
Japan wrapped up a sweep of 200 backstrokes with Aya Terakawa winning the women’s race in 2:07.73, another Championship Record. That’s the best time of her career in the event and moves her to 2nd on Japan’s all-time list. It still feels quite unusual that she chose not to swim this event at the Japanese Olympic Trials, when she looks to be a serious medal contender in the event. It’s still very possible that she’ll be offered the chance to swim this race in London by her federation anyway.
She again blew-away Russia’s world leader Anastasia Zueva in this race; Zueva took 2nd in 2:09.27. Though Zueva had a great taper at Russian Nationals, the rest of this season she’s been slower than she was at the same time last year (including both in the 100 and 200 backstrokes at this meet).
Men’s 200 Breaststroke
A third Championship Record in a row went down in the men’s 200 breast, with Germany’s Marco Koch and Japan’s Ryo Tateishi both cleared the old standard, but it was Koch, on a great third 50, who won in 2:08.74. Tateishi finished 2nd in 2:08.85.
For Koch, that’s his best time of 2012 and jumps him to 4th in the world this year. It’s not clear what Koch is doing differently the last year, but in 2011 he wasn’t faster than a 2:12-high. Now, he’s been under 2:10 at three different meets in 5 weeks. He’s on a whole different level than he was last season, but this is a similar pattern to what he did in 2009 in polyurethane. That year, he peaked pre-Worlds.
Italy’s Flavio Bizzarri was 3rd in 2:12.76.
Women’s 200 breaststroke
Denmark’s Rikke Moller Pedersen won the women’s 200 breaststroke in 2:24.35; that’s her best time of the season, moving her to 8th in the world in 2012 and is faster than she was at Worlds last year. In Shanghai, she had two great rounds, but fell-apart in the finals. She was the fastest in both prelims and finals of this race, which hopefully will give her some confidence to correct that (even though it was only a two-round event, as compared to the three she’ll have to swim at the Olympics). Either way, it’s going to likely take a lot faster then the 2:24.8 that scored a bronze at Worlds last year – and Pedersen is in position to be there.
Japan’s Kanako Watanbe took 2nd in 2:25.54. Watanabe closed the race much better than she did in prelims to keep the battle close.
Men’s 200 IM
Thiago Pereira bounced back bigtime from his 400 IM with a 1:57.94 Meet Record in this 200. Even with this group’s heavy training that has shown up throughout this meet, this time is within eight-tenths of his swim from Maria Lenk, his spring “rest” meet. He also had a way better freestyle leg than earlier in this meet, showing more flashes of the “new” Pereira. He was just as fast (28.6) on the final freestyle length as was runner-up Kosuke Hagino of Japan, and Hagino is a good finisher in the event.
The young Japanese swimmer touched in 1:59.11, with South Africa’s Chad le Clos finishing 3rd in 2:00.03.
Men’s 1500 Free
Italy’s young 17-year old Grigorio Paltrinieri backed up his earth-shattering win in this race at the European Championships with another strong performance of 14:58.33 in Rome – that makes him the first swimmer in the world this year to break 15 minutes twice in 2012.
Another young Italian, Gabriele Detti (also born in 1994) was 2nd in 15:02.45. That’s his best time by 14 seconds. Now, with Samuel Pizzetti (3rd in this race in 15:16) already named to the Italian Olympic Team in this event, and Paltrinieri seeming to be a lock with his 14:48, Pizzetti and his 15:02 and Rocco Potenza and his 15:00 from last year’s World University Games could both be left off of the Olympic Team.
Women’s 200 IM
In the lone race of the meet without any real excitement, Japan’s Izumi Kato won the women’s 200 IM in 2:13.64.