2022 WORLD OPEN WATER MALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: GREGORIO PALTRINIERI, ITALY
After a downturn following COVID-19, open water racing ramped up again this year. This year’s major international open races included the World Championships, the FINA Marathon Swim World Series, and the European Open Water Cup.
The 2022 Swammy Award for the Open Water Male Swimmer of the year is going to Gregorio Paltrinieri, from Italy.
Paltrinieri opened 2022 with a victory at the first leg of the FINA Marathon Swim World Series in Portugal. He took gold in the 10k by just two seconds over fellow Italian Domenico Acerenza. Paltrinieri continued his winning streak at the second leg in Paris, winning by just over a second. He skipped leg three in Canada, and leg four was cancelled, but he ended the series in Israel with another gold medal. He ended up tying with Hungary’s Kristof Rasovsky for the overall series title.
In addition to his individual efforts in the series, he also contributed to Italy’s 4x1500m relay team at three of the four stops. Italy won gold in the first two relays, and picked up bronze at the final stop in Israel.
At the World Championships in Budapest, Paltrinieri took home three open water medals. After taking silver in the 5k event behind Germany’s Florian Wellbrock, Paltrinieri answered with a victory in the 10k. He and his teammate Acerenza pulled away from Wellbrock in the end of the race to go 1-2, clocking a 1:50.56.8 and 1:50.58.2, respectively. Paltrinieri was also a key member of Italy’s 4x1500m relay, which took bronze.
Paltrinieri went on to the European Aquatics Championships in August, where he won gold in the 5k open water event, beating teammate Acerenza by just under a second. He also topped the overall standings for the 2022 LEN Open Water Cup, which took place throughout the year. Paltrinieri collected two bronze medals in the opening two legs of the LEN Open Water Cup, followed by a victory at the third stop in Italy, putting him at 2000 points to win the series overall.
Although this award focuses solely on open water accomplishments, it is worth mentioning Paltrinieri’s success in the pool this year as well. Before the World Championships for open water, Paltrinieri competed in the 800m free and 1500m free in the pool. After ending up just off the podium in the 800 free in 4th, Paltrinieri rebounded with a dominating performance in the 1500. He led the 1500 from the beginning, earning himself gold and posting the 2nd-fastest performance of all-time with a 14:32.80. He ended the year with a pair of gold medals at Short Course Worlds, winning both the 800 and 1500.
- Florian Wellbrock, Germany: Another swimmer who has had success both in the pool and and in open water, Wellbrock is another 2022 World Champion in open water, but in the 5k event and 4x1500m relay event. He took 3rd in the 10k behind the Italian duo, and also picked up bronze in the 1500m freestyle pool event.
- Domenico Acerenza, Italy: The other half of the Italian open water duo, Acerenza has established himself on the international stage in open water. He took silver in the 10k at Worlds behind Paltrinieri, as well as 4th in the 5k. Like his teammate, he was also a consistent piece of the Italy’s 4x1500m relays both in the FINA Marathon Swim Series and Worlds. Acerenza also won individually at the third stop of the FINA World Series in Canada and at the 10k event at the European Aquatics Championships.
- 2021 – Florian Wellbrock, Germany
- 2020 – Marc-Antoine Olivier, France
- 2019 – Florian Wellbrock, Germany
- 2018 – Kristof Rasovsky, Hungary
- 2017 – Ferry Weertman, Netherlands
- 2016 – Ferry Weertman, Netherlands
- 2015 – Jordan Wilimovsky, United States
- 2014 – – Ferry Weertman, Netherlands
- 2013 – Thomas Lurz, Germany
- 2012 – Ous Mellouli, Tunisia (Co-Ed Award)
Always a big fan of pure stayers like Paltrinier. He always reminds me of Paula Radcliffe. They don’t have a kick to rely on so they just grind everyone into the ground. Have to be so gutsy and tough to race like that.
I hope Florian got some bonus points for opening his club and training group to Romanchek, the Ukrainian!
can we get a breakdown on paltrinieri’s distance free technique?
dude does everything you are NOT supposed to do (scissor kick, weird cross body strokes, unnecessary wiggling) and still manages to go so fast
I’m a firm believer that grit is the most valuable trait you can have as a distance swimmer. Sometimes you can override technique shortcomings if you simply hate losing enough! Mind over matter.
Shades of Janet Evans
Wellbrock was actually 3rd in the 1500.