2018 Euros Previews: Men’s Distance Frees Are Low-Key Competitive


  • August 3-9, 2018 (swimming portion)
  • Glasgow, Scotland
  • Tollcross International Swimming Centre
  • Psych Sheet

The men’s distance events at the 2018 European Championships ‘feel’ like they should be Gregorio Paltrinieri‘s to dominate, but the old continent has seen increasing depth in the discipline even since the 2016 Olympic Games. Combined with the absence of Gabriele Detti, who will miss his 2nd-straight European Championship with a shoulder injury, these races have opened up and become fairly interesting with lots of fresh names (from atypical countries) entering the fold.

At last year’s World Championships, 7 of the top 8 finishers in the men’s 1500 free (the exception being bronze medalist Mack Horton) were European. In the 800, 6 of the A finalists were European (exceptions being Sun Yang from China in 5th, and  Zane Grothe from the US in 8th).

And so, while these distance races, without stars like Katinka Hosszu and Sarah Sjostrom and Ben Proud on the marquee, may give the impression that they lack some prestige, they in fact are the truest to a ‘World Championship caliber race’ that exist in these European Championships.

2017 Worlds 800 Free Results

Rank Lane Name Nationality Time
1 7 Gabriele Detti Italy 7:40.77
2 5 Wojciech Wojdak Poland 7:41.73
3 4 Gregorio Paltrinieri Italy 7:42.44
4 3 Henrik Christiansen Norway 7:44.21
5 2 Sun Yang China 7:48.87
6 6 Felix Auböck Austria 7:51.20
7 1 Florian Wellbrock Germany 7:52.27
8 8 Zane Grothe United States 7:52.43

2017 Worlds 1500 Free Results

Rank Lane Name Nationality Time
1 5 Gregorio Paltrinieri Italy 14:35.85
2 4 Mykhailo Romanchuk Ukraine 14:37.14
3 1 Mack Horton Australia 14:47.70
4 3 Gabriele Detti Italy 14:52.07
5 7 Henrik Christiansen Norway 14:54.58
6 8 Serhiy Frolov Ukraine 14:55.10
7 2 Wojciech Wojdak Poland 15:01.27
8 6 Jan Micka Czech Republic 15:09.28

All that to say, Paltrinieri, the European Record holder, does enter as the definite favorite in the men’s 1500, an earned title which is of little debate. What we need to  find out, however, is whether his new training in Australia with Mack Horton (remember, he was training with Detti before, so was not for wont of a training partner) is going to turn into better results. He had a solid season in 2017, missing his 2016 best time by 1.8 seconds in the 1500, but so far in 2018 his best is 14:46.25.

That time ranks #2 in the world, but i s way behind Germany’s Florian Wellbrock, who swam a 14:40.69 at Germany’s Trials to hold the top spot. The swim by Paltrnieri is also the slowest season best with which he’s entered a championship meet since 2013.

On the flip of that is that his 800 has been better (7:45.53) this year in the past. Training with Horton, who has traditionally had better speed than Paltrinieri, could benefit him in the shorter distance event in Glasgow. It could also hurt his 1500.

Wellbrock, who’s the 3rd seed in the 1500 (and youngest competitor seeded in the top 11) and Ukrainian Mykhaylo Romanchuk are the swimmers with the big upside potential here.

In 2017, Romanchuk knocked 13 seconds from his best time in the 1500, and only 2 from his 800, to take silver behind Paltrinieri in the former at Worlds. He didn’t even race the 800 at Worlds, interestingly, but is entered in it this year – and probably due for a big drop. Afterall, his best time in the 800 right now – is his 800 split from Worlds (7:45.85).

He’s only swum one 1500 and two 800s in all of 2018 so far though. Last year he had four 1500s and four 800s going into Worlds.

Wellbrock had his breakthrough at German Nationals – which for a change, have been relaxed somewhat and gotten away from the draconian qualification standards that recently have seemed to harm Germany’s international results.

There’s a pretty significant gap between those three and the rest in the 1500 field, so they’re the favorites in the longer distance (seeds are 14:35 for Paltrinieri, 14:37 for Romanchuk, and 14:40 for Wellbrock; next up is Britain’s Daniel Jervis at 14:48).

The 800 will be a much more peculiar event, where Poland’s Wojciech Wojdak enters as the top seed in 7:41.73. Now that this race is an Olympic event, it will receive much more attention in both racing and training.

That makes the results harder to predict – determining who hasn’t gone full bore in the 800 yet but is going to now.

There will be a clash of that group against swimmers who are great 400 swimmers, have enough for the 800, but don’t do much in the 1500, who likewise now have a much bigger platform. That includes swimmers like 19-year old Victor Johansson of Sweden (7:49.77), the American-trained Felix Auboeck of Austria (7:49.24), and the American-trained Anton Ipsen from Denmark (7:53.37), who put up big times in yards this year, and has been fast in long course in-season in spite of a coaching change.

In the absence of high seeds, or at least many high seeds from many of the traditional European power countries (Great Britain, Russia, France, Hungary) these men’s distance races will carry great interest and passion from fans of different countries who will be counting on them as best chances for big medals. That should give them a fun, if different, vibe.

Men’s 800 Predictions

Place Prediction Name Nationality Lifetime Best 2018 Best
1 Gregorio Paltrinieri Italy 7:40.81 7:45.53
2 Mykhailo Romanchuk Ukraine 7:45.85 (1500 split) 7:45.85 (1500 split)
3 Wojciech Wojdak Poland 7:41.73 7:56.95
4 Henrik Christiansen Norway 7:44.21 7:53.91
5 Felix Auböck Austria 7:49.24 7:58.05
6 Florian Wellbrock Germany 7:46.85 7:46.85
7 Jan Micka Czech Republic 7:50.38 7:51.46
8 Anton Ipsen Denmark 7:53.37 7:57.30

Men’s 1500 Predictions

Place Prediction Name Nationality Lifetime Best 2018 Best
1 Mykhailo Romanchuk Ukraine 14:37.14 14:50.91
2 Gregorio Paltrinieri Italy 14:34.04 14:46.25
3 Florian Wellbrock Germany 14:40.69 14:40.69
4 Henrik Christiansen Norway 14:53.77 14:58.60
5 Daniel Jervis Great Britain 14:48.67 14:48.67
6 Sergey Frolov Ukraine 14:55.10 14:56.81
7 Domenico Acerenza Italy 14:55.44 14:55.44
8 Anton Ipsen Denmark 15:05.91 15:07.40

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bobo gigi

Sure it’s not USA which dominates from the 400 free to the 1500 free on the men’s side for 30 years. Amazing stats for a country so dominant in swimming. Last US olympic gold in the men’s 400 free was in 1984. Only 4 medals out of 24 since then. Last US olympic gold in the men’s 1500 free was in 1984. Only 3 medals out of 24 since then. Last US world gold in the men’s 400 free was in 1975. 15 world championships in a row without an American gold and with only 4 medals out of 45! No American has ever won the men’s 800 free at worlds. 9 world championships since 2001 and only 3 medals… Read more »


1984. The second non world Olympics. Bye Mr. Salnikov!

Bright Future

I do see a bright future for the USA in the men’s 1500 and 800. We have a couple of 18 year old’s that just need more experience, time to develop (college experience)–give it time..I do believe the USA will dominate soon.


I agree; But I’d also remember these European boys swimming 20s faster arent much older. Most born 1994-1998.


College swimming is what hurts US distance swimming. It’s great for developing speed, competiveness, underwaters, and everything necessary to be great at the sprint and stroke events, but these top European distance swimmers are training way more than would be allowed under the NCAA 20-hour rule.

It’s one of the large reasons why Ledecky had to turn pro after just two years.

Dr. Buky Chass

I think that the NCAA has a lot to do with it. In collegiate swimming the team theme rules. So, there is only one long distance event 1650 and only one mid distance 500 on a team. While there are so many shorter distances on a team including 4 relay teams. 50, 100, 200 free. 4X50, 4X100, 4X200 free and medley relays as well. So any aspiring young swimmers and his parents will go for were the kid has a chance for a college scholarship. It is not the mid-long distance!!!. That is why the mid and long distance races are so neglected in the USA for many many years.


Will these previews be done for all Euro events


Lowkey?? Ain’t nothing lowkey about it. I’ve been excited by mens distance free more than any other events.

Wellbrock could be anything, really excited to see him. Palt & Romanchuk are your obvious stars. The talent is deep though, particularly in the 800. The 400 looks a little light without Detti, Guy and Krasnykh.

bear drinks beer

I’m most excited about men’s distance races too. 7 out of 8 1500fr finalists at last year’s world championships are from Europe. The competition is very fierce here.


Without a doubt the deepest events at Euros. Mens Breast and womens sprint free will also be lightning.


Mens 200 fly also not too shabby, could be an hungarian sweep for Cseh, Milak and Kenderesi?


I suspect a Hungarian sweep is the most likely outcome. Switkowski is a spoiler at his best, and Bromer could be too. Guy is the big unknown quantity.


I think Milak and Kenderesi are out of reach for the rest, unless Cseh is in good shape, he hasnt posted any fast time this season. If Cseh doesnt perform at his best, someone might win a medal with around 1:55.0. As a german fan i hope that Klenz can get there, but after his recent big time drop (he is the 3rd fastest european athlete this season with his 1:55.7 from a couple of days ago) i dont see him dropping time again. It would be great if he could swim sub 1:56 again. I dont see how Guy could be a factor, his PB is slower than that of Klenz and he is 3 years older, is there… Read more »


Well, his last uninterrupted tapered 200fl was 2017 Nationals. He wasn’t shaved down/tapered at winter nationals (1.56.6) and fell unwell at Commonwealths – Hence his 200fr/100fl being slow. He swam 1.55.91 at the Japanese Open in 2017, and his 100fl has come on a lot since then (he was 51mid at that meet). He may not progress, but I suspect he will comfortably improve his PB. He is the unknown quantity for me.


So basically just wishful thinking, i tend to think that there is a reason he was never at his best in both events at the same time. At least you make a rather clear prediction, comfortably improving his PB means at least 1:55.0 for me (while swimming sub 51 in the 100 fly at the same time), lets see who knows James Guy better.


Yes, I expect a comfortable PB. He swum 1.56 at Sette Colli, neck and neck with Kenderesi, and 3s ahead of Ramon Klenz. As for not swimming his best in both events – He swum 50.6 100fl and 1.43 200fr less than 1hr apart last year. It’s certainly a fine balance, but I don’t see anything to suggest one sacrifices the other. The 400fr on the other hand, I think that damaged all his other events. If he arrives healthy and prepared, I am happy to go on record expecting a substantial PB.


Cseh is said to be in good shape.


Only 2/nation can swim the semis. And we have 4, including Biczo, too. Milak and Cseh will smim the 100, Milak and Cseh/Kenderes 200. Milak will win.


Good to know, but bad for Hungary. The bronze medal in mens 200 fly should be pretty open, Milak will certainly be the favorite, but i wouldnt hand him the gold medal just yet.


Yes, bad for Hungary. Of course, he has to swim for it. 🙂

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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