2022 European Championship Previews: Quadarella Eyes Distance Free Triple-Triple

2022 EUROPEAN AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

Women’s distance freestyle in Europe has been a bit top-heavy for the last few years. There are European distance stars, like Italy’s Simona Quadarella, a world champion, Germany’s Isabel Gose, who has been consistently performing at a very high level, and Hungary’s Ajna Kesely, who won four medals at the 2017 World Junior Championships.

But there are also a number of young up-and-coming freestylers who could have a breakthrough at any moment. Of course, some of the top women’s freestylers in the world, such as Katie Ledecky, Ariarne Titmus, and Summer McIntosh to name a few, aren’t from Europe, but the battle for gold at these European Championships should be fun to watch nonetheless.

Quadarella is the name to watch out for in women’s distance freestyle as we head into these championships. The 23-year-old has won six individual gold medals at the European LC Championships in her career, all of which have come in the distance free events over the last two editions, making her the two-time defending champion in the 400, 800 and 1500 free.

It won’t be easy, but if she manages to win all three again, Quadarella would complete the rare triple-triple, winning the same three events at three straight championships.

WOMEN’S 400 FREESTYLE

  • World Record: 3:56.40 – Ariarne Titmus, AUS (2022)
  • European Record: 3:59.15 – Federica Pellegrini, ITA (2009)
  • European Championships Record: 4:01.53 – Federica Pellegrini, ITA (2008)
  • 2020 European Champion: Simona Quadarella, ITA – 4:04.66

The 400 free is actually Simona Quadarella‘s weakest event of her schedule at these Championships, however, she’s certainly still in medal contention. To be clear, although the 400 free is Quadarella’s worst event out of the 400, 800, and 1500 free, she’s still the 2x defending European Champion in the event, having won Gold in both 2018 and 2020. Quadarella has a lifetime best of 4:03.35 in the event, a time which she swam for Gold at the 2018 European Championships. She’s been in good shape in the race so far this year, winning the Italian National Championships in April with a 4:04.47. She also tacked on a 4:06.18 in May, indicating she will be among the fastest performers in the field at this meet.

Quadarella is the #2 seed coming into the meet, behind only Germany’s Isabel Gose. The German National Record holder in the event, the 20-year-old has been a top performer in the 400 free and 800 free of late. At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last summer, Gose set her personal best of 4:03.21 in prelims, advancing to finals. Gose backed that time up this summer, swimming a 4:03.47 to take 5th at the World Championships in Budapest in June. She’s also been 4:05.55 this year, a time which she swam in April at the Stockholm Open. All in all, Gose comes into these European Championships with a ton of momentum in the 400, and is likely to win her first individual LC European Champs medal, and it may just be Gold.

Hungary’s Ajna Kesely enters as the #3 seed coming into the meet with the 4:05.34 she swam at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last summer. This 20-year-old had a meteoric rise a few years ago, quickly becoming one of the top distance freestylers in the world while she was a teenager. When she was 16, Kesely won Silver in the 400 free at the 2018 European Championships, finishing behind Quadarella. She did not compete at the 2020 European Championships amid the Coronavirus global pandemic.

Kesely has gone through a little bit of a rough patch of late, but we know she has the ability to compete with the fastest swimmers in the world. Her lifetime best of 4:01.31 was set at the 2019 World Championships, when she was 17. She’s been off that time so far this year, having clocked a 4:07.74 at the Hungarian Nationals. She competed in the event at the World Championships in Budapest in June, however, she did not advance to finals, swimming a 4:09.09. It’s entirely possible that Kesely has been targeting European Champs as her peak meet of the summer, and we’ll see her fastest racing of the year at this meet, but time will tell.

Hungary’s Bettina Fabian, just 17 years old, comes in right behind Kesely as the #4 seed. Her lifetime best in the 400 free came from Hungarian Nationals earlier this year, where she swam a 4:07.81 to finish right behind Kesely. She went to World Champs in the event, but finished well outside qualifying for finals, clocking a 4:14.06. That being said, Fabian without a doubt has the speed to make it into this final, and if the youngster were to have a lifetime best performance in finals, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see her win a medal.

Great Britain’s Freya Anderson is an intriguing swimmer in this event. Anderson, 21, is typically known as a freestyle sprinter. She’s won SC European Champs Gold in the 100 free and 200 free, and has won a whopping 7 relay Gold medals at LC European Championships already in her career. The 200 free is probably her best event in LCM racing, as she’s been 1:56.05, a time which she just swam at the 2022 World Champs in June. Given that 200 free time, it’s not out of the question that Anderson could put together something great here at Euros, assuming that she ends up racing the event. Her personal best of 4:08.46 was set at British Nationals earlier this year. She swam the race at World Champs, clocking a 4:11.82. She was scheduled to race it at the Commonwealth Games as well, but pulled out of the event there. If Anderson races the event here, she should be fun to watch, as she’ll have the most opening speed of anyone in the field.

Freya Colbert, a British 17-year-old, comes in right behind Anderson on the psych sheet. Colbert swam her personal best of 4:09.04 at British Nationals as well. She’s been nowhere near that time this summer, however, having swum a 4:12.82 at World Champs and 4:16.31 at the Commonwealth Games. If she’s able to get back down towards her personal best, she shouldn’t have any issues qualifying for finals.

Slovenia’s Katja Fain is entered at 4:09.07, a time which she just swam a month ago. She’s been consistent this year, having also swum a 4:09.73 in May. Italy’s Antonietta Cesarano is in a similar position, having swum her personal best of 4:09.52 just over 2 weeks ago. If either swimmer is able to be on their personal best in prelims, they’ll advance to finals without a problem.

Germany’s Julia Mrozinski is another swimmer who comes into this meet under 4:10. She swam a 4:09.30 at the Berlin Open in April but hasn’t swum the event at a major meet since then.

Italian 31-year-old Martina Rita Caramignoli is seeded 10th with a 4:09.84, however, she swam her personal best of 4:08.39 last March at the Italian National Championships. A veteran in this field, Caramignoli is always ready to swim fast, making her one to watch. Similarly, Spain’s Mireia Belmonte is seeded at 4:12.07, but has been 4:03.84, granted that was back in 2014. Most recently, she swam a 4:19.66 at the Mare Nostrum Tour stop in Canet. Her 4:12.07 is from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last summer.

SwimSwam’s Predictions:

RANKING SWIMMER COUNTRY LIFETIME BEST SEASON BEST
1 Isabel Gose GER 4:03.21 4:03.47
2 Simona Quadarella ITA 4:03.35 4:06.18
3 Ajna Kesely HUN 4:01.31 4:07.74
4 Katja Fain SLO 4:09.07 4:09.07
5 Freya Anderson GBR 4:08.46 4:08.46

WOMEN’S 800 FREESTYLE

  • World Record: 8:04.79 – Katie Ledecky, USA (2016)
  • European Record: 8:14.10 – Rebecca Adlington, GBR (2008)
  • European Championships Record: 8:15.54 – Jazmin Carlin, GBR (2014)
  • 2020 European Champion: Simona Quadarella, ITA – 8:20.23

In the 800 free, Simona Quadarella enters as both the top seed, and the fastest swimmer in the field by far. Quadarella is the #2 European all-time in the event with her personal best of 8:14.99, a time which she swam at the 2019 World Championships in a thrilling race with Katie Ledecky. Additionally, Quadarella is the #5 performer all-time in the event worldwide. She hasn’t reached that 8:14 mark since the 2019 World Championships, but she’s been close to it on a number of occasions. Even this year, Quadarella has already posted an 816.68, a time which she swam at the Italian National Championships in April. She was under 8:20 again at the World Championships in June, swimming an 8:19.00. Notably  the European Championships Record stands  at 8:15.54, a mark which Quadarella has a realistic chance of breaking.

There are 2 swimmers who could potentially challenge Quadarella here, but they’ll need to have great races to do so. First is Germany’s Isabel Gose, who enters the meet as the #2 seed with an 8:21.79, which she swam at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Gose has been in good shape so far this year already, having swum 8:23s at both the World Championships in June and a German meet in March. That bodes well for Gose in terms of her medal hopes, however, she’ll almost certainly have to be under 8:20 to have a chance at winning Gold.

Next up is Turkey’s Merve Tuncel, who is the #3 seed with her personal best of 8:21.91, set at last summer’s European Junior Championships. Tuncel didn’t race at Worlds this year, but did clock 8:26.80 to win gold at the Mediterranean Games at the beginning of July and then followed up with an 8:28.32 to successfully defend her Euro Junior the following week. Curiously this is her lone entry in Rome.

Turkish 18-year-old Deniz Ertan is the #4 seed, coming in at 8:29.03, a time which she just swam 3 weeks ago. It was her first time under 8:30 in the event, marking a huge performance for the young up-and-comer. She would need another big-time drop to be in medal contention, however, if she can be around her 8:29 again, she won’t have a problem qualifying for finals.

Italian veteran Martina Rita Caramignoli presents an interesting dynamic in this event. Caramignoli, 32, has been as fast as 8:24.16, a time which she swam just 2 years ago, in August of 2020. She was 8:29.03 last summer and has swum an 8:31.03 this year. If Caramignoli is able to get back down into the mid-8:20 range like she did 2 years ago, she may just be able to land on the podium, depending on how Gose and Tuncel swim.

Germany’s Leonie Beck enters the meet with an 8:29.96, a time which she swam back in April. Her personal best stands at 8:25.99 from the 2019 Stockholm Open. Her racing this summer has primarily been open water. Beck competed in women’s 5K and 10K at the World Championships, winning a Silver medal in the 10K. As one of the 6 swimmers in this field who are seeded under 8:30 and the swimmer with the 5th fastest lifetime best in the field, Beck could make some noise here.

SwimSwam’s Predictions:

RANKING SWIMMER COUNTRY LIFETIME BEST SEASON BEST
1 Simona Quadarella ITA 8:14.99 8:19.00
2 Isabel Gose GER 8:21.79 8:23.78
3 Merve Tuncel TUR 8:21.91 8:26.80
4 Leonie Beck GER 8:25.99 8:29.96
5 Martina Rita Caramignoli ITA 8:24.16 8:31.03

WOMEN’S 1500 FREESTYLE

  • World Record: 15:20.48 – Katie Ledecky, USA (2018)
  • European Record: 15:38.88 – Lotte Friis, DEN (2013)
  • European Championships Record: 15:50.22, Boglarka Kapas (2016)
  • 2020 European Champion: Simona Quadarella, ITA – 15:53.59

Simona Quadarella is again the top swimmer in this field, in what is arguably her best event. She’s also the 2nd fastest European performer all-time in the event, and #4 all-time globally. Her lifetime best of 15:40.89 was also swum at the 2019 World Championships, a swim which earned her the Gold medal. Quadarella hasn’t quite been at her best in the 1500 so far this year, but she has been under 16:00, having swum a 15:59.32 in April at the Italian National Championships. She swam a 16:03.84 at the World Championships. That Worlds performance may be cause for some concern, however, her 800 time at Worlds was also off her season best, so it’s possible she didn’t completely taper for the meet, or even that she just simply had an off meet.

While breaking the European Record of 15:38.88 may prove to be a difficult task, the European Championships Record of 15:50.22 is definitely in danger and may even be likely to go down.

Hungarian Ajna Kesely is the #2 seed coming into the meet, entering at 15:59.80. Aside from Quadarella, Kesely is the only swimmer in the field seeded under 16:00. Kesely has a lifetime best of 15:54.48, a time which she swam at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju. While Kesely is clearly the 2nd fastest swimmer in this field on paper, her recent performances were a little less than encouraging. At the Hungarian National Championships, Kesely swam a 16:22.89, well off her personal best. Her 15:59.80 she’s seeded with was fairly recent, having been swum at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last summer.

Behind the leading duo, Hungary’s Viktoria Mihalyvari-Farkas and Italy’s Martina Rita Caramignoli are both seeded at 16:02. Mihalyvari-Farkas comes in at 16:02.26, which is her personal best and was swum at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last summer. On the other hand, Caramignoli is seeded at 16:02.43, but her personal best stands at 15:56.06 from the summer of 2020. As things stand heading into the meet, it looks as if breaking 16:00 should be good for a medal. Depending on how Kesely performs at this meet, it’s entirely possible Mihalyvari-Farkas and Caramignoli could beat her out.

Portugal’s Tamila Holub is entered at 16:15.50, making her the #5 seed. That time stands as Holub’s personal best and was swum at last year’s European Championships.

SwimSwam’s Predictions:

RANKING SWIMMER COUNTRY LIFETIME BEST SEASON BEST
1 Simona Quadarella ITA 15:40.89 15:56.19
2 Martina Rita Caramignoli ITA 15:56.06 16:08.03
3 Ajna Kesely HUN 15:54.48 16:22.89
4 Viktoria Mihalyvari-Farkas HUN 16:02.26 16:23.02
5 Tamila Holub POR 16:15.50 16:28.19

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NathenDrake
1 month ago

Mihályvári, if she is in form will beat Ajna easily in the 1500 free.

Pacific Whirl
1 month ago

Colbert turns 18 for five months.