The Italian women put two more on the team for Shanghai in their first crack of the day: the 400 IM. Alessia Polieri took the title in 4:41.88, and Stefania Pirozzi took second in 4:42.17. Polieri’s time ranks 16th in the world this year. In what has grown to become quite a strong event for the Italians, though two spots are guaranteed for World’s, Pirozzi should not rest easy that the second will be hers. That is because Italian Record Holder Alessia Filippi will have another shot at the June’s Sette Colle Trophy meet to better that mark and take a spot on the team. Filippi skipped this meet as a result of her commitments to the Italian version of Dancing With the Stars, but should be back to full-time preparations now after being eliminated on the show’s very first episode two weeks ago.
Samuel Pizzetti is quickly becoming the star of the Italian men’s team at these trials. Earlier in the meet, he won the 800 free in the world’s second-best time, and in this 400 free he took another victory in 3:47.31. This moves him to 7th in the world this year, and puts him at the bottom of the second-tier of swimmers (behind great marks earlier in the year from Yang Sun, Yannick Agnel, and Ryan Napoleon).
The hallmark of the day was a lot of great racing. Throughout the meet, there has been plenty of great swimming, but a noticeable lack of high-intensity racing. Paolo Facchinelli, for example, won the men’s 50 fly in a time of 24.10, just a touch ahead of Lorenzo Benatti. Ilaria Bianchi won the women’s 100 fly in a 59.17 (FINA A-cut), but the battle for 2nd was a thrilling finish between 17-year old Elena Di Liddo (59.82) and Cateina Giacchetti (59.88). Di Liddo took out a great first-50 pace, but in true teenager fashion, faded at the end. Giacchetti’s experienced almost allowed her to nip her younger counterpart, but a final lunge gave the silver to Di Liddo.
Sebastiano Ranfagni finally broke through to win the men’s 200 back for the first time since 2007. In 2008 and 2009, he placed 3rd at this meet in the event, in 2010 he placed 2nd, and this year he continued that trend to take gold in 1:59.24, which will be good enough to get him to Shanghai. In the women’s version of the race, two Federica’s battled it out to the finish (and neither had the last name Pellegrini). Federica Sorriso took the win in 2:13.30, and Federica Meloni took second in 2:13.73. Neither of them earned their way to Shanghai with their swims, but at only 20 and 15 years old, respectively, they both have many years of high-level swimming ahead of them.
In the men’s 400 free relay, there were several splits that are very encouraging signs for the Italian relay. Specifically, battling on the anchor legs of a very tight relay, 20-year old Marco Orsi carried his GS Fiamme Oro Roma relay to a win with an anchor of 48.08, ahead of a 48.02 for the veteran Filippo Magnini for Larus Nuoto. Those two swims are a very good start to a great 400 free relay, and doesn’t even include individual champion Luca Dotto.