Gregorio Paltrinieri is a World Champion Italian swimmer originally from Carpi. Paltrinieri was born Sept. 5, 1994 to his parents, Lorraine and Luca Paltrinieri, and he specializes in the distance freestyle events – in 2013 Paltrinieri broke the Italian Record in the 1500m freestyle.. Standing 6’3″ Paltrinieri began swimming at a very young age, and specialized in the breaststroke until he was 12 years old, but then shifted his focus to distance freestyle. Although his best events are the 800 and 1500m freestyles, he’s also swam the 200 freestyle on medal-winning relays.
The Breakout Year, 2011
Near 2011 Paltrinieri began to make his mark on the junior world; at just 16 years old Paltrinieri competed at the 2011 European Junior Championships, where he won gold in the 1500m freestyle and bronze in the 800m freestyle. Later in the year he qualified for the World Championships for the first time, competing in the heats in Shanghai, and swam in Lima, Peru at the World Junior Championships, where he won a silver and bronze in his distance specialties.
2012 was a big year for Paltrinieri – he picked up his first European Short Course Championship win in the 1500m freestyle, breaking the meet record. The same year he swam at the FINA World Short Course Championships, where he won silver in the 1500m freestyle.
2012 London Olympics
Soon after the 2012 European Championships, where he won silver in the 1500m freestyle, Paltrinieri qualified for his first Olympic Games at just 17 years old, competing in the 1500m freestyle, where he finished fifth overall.
2013 World Championships
In 2013 Paltrinieri travelled to Barcelona, Spain to compete at the 2013 World Championships. At this meet Paltrinieri finished in the top eight of both distance events – he picked up a bronze medal in the 1500m freestyle and a sixth-place finish in the 800m freestyle.
Swammy Award’s Male Breakout Swimmer of the Year Honoree
In 2014 Paltrinieri was honored as one of the Swammy Award’s Male Breakout Swimmer of the Year Award Honorees. Although he wasn’t altogether new to the international swimming community, 2014 served him as a major breakout season. Paltrinieri received the honorable mention nomination after after a breakout year, winning his first World Championship title, and becoming just the fifth swimmer ever to break 14:40 in the 1500m freestyle. At the 2014 World Short Course Championships in Doha, he won the 1500m freestyle setting a new championship record. In addition to his successful World Championship efforts, Platrinieri also won the 1500m freestyle at the European Championships, breaking the European Record in the event.
2015 World Championships
Paltrinieri competed at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan just two years after winning his first World Championship medal. In the 800-meter free, the event was expected to be dominated by China’s Sun Yang, but Paltrinieri put up a tough fight. The two battled from the beginning of the race, coming within just hundredths from each other at every turn. When it came down to the last 50 meters, Sun out-split Paltrinieri by nearly a second to touch first, leaving Paltrinieri with a silver medal.
In the 1500-meter free Sun Yang pulled out due to a heart condition, leaving Canada’s Ryan Cochrane as the favorite; however Paltrinieri passed Cochrane at the 500-meter mark and stayed in first place for most of the race. Around 1,000 meters into the race Cochrane began to fade, but USA’s Connor Jaeger began to move up the rankings. Although Jaeger had a stunning last 50 meters attempting to run down Paltrinieri, the Italian’s lead was far too much to pull an upset. His win in the 1500-meter free gave Paltrinieri a full set of medals from the World Championships.
2016 Rio Olympics
No longer a teenager, Paltrinieri returned for his second Olympics as the reigning 1,500 meter freestyle World Champion. He had a long wait until the last day, but it was worth it. In the gruelling distance event he pulled out to the lead after 200 meters and never looked back. He took the Olympic gold to add to his World Title in 14:34.57, five seconds ahead of USA’s Connor Jaeger in second. Paltrinieri’s Italian teammate, Gabriele Detti joined them on the podium to take the bronze.
2017 World Championships
Paltrinieri won the bronze medal in the 800 meter freestyle in Budapest. He took the lead mid-way through the race but his Italian teammate Gabrielle Detti had another surge to retake the lead to the end. Paltrinieri finished in 7:42.44.
On the final day he was back in his signature 1,500 meter freestyle. He successfully defended his title finishing 1st in 14:35.85. He managed to fight off the advances of Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk who stuck by his side the whole distance and ended with the silver, just over a second behind.
2018 European Championships
Greg started out with a surprise in the 1,500 free, swimming to a 14:42.85 to finish in 3rd place, well off of what many had thought he would swim. The next day Greg admitted to the media that he had a fever and was still trying to rest as much as possible before the 800 a few days later. It looked like the rest paid off, as he seemed more back to form in his final race of the meet, touching in 2nd at 7:45.12.
2019 World Championships
After placing 6th in the men’s 10k in what was his first world champs open water swim, Greg got back to business in the pool. In the men’s 800 free, Paltrinieri surged on the back half to win gold and set a new European record in 7:39.27. In the 1,500, it was an extremely tight race between Paltrinieri, Romanchuk, and German Florian Wellbrock for the first 1,400 meters. In the last 10, the other 2 surged ahead, leaving Paltrinieri to touch in bronze with a time of 14:38.75.
2021 European Championships (Budapest, Hungary)
Greg started off his Euro Champs going 3-for03 in open water, taking wins in the 5k, 10k, and 5k mixed relay. He followed that performance up by taking double silver in the pool, earning 2nd in both the 800 (7:43.62) and 1500 (14:42.91).
2020 Olympic Games
Greg started his 2nd Olympics in the first-ever men’s 800 free final, where he swam a gutsy race and went out blazing, leading the entire race until the last 10 meters. He was passed at the very end by American Bobby Finke, so Greg touched in 2nd, earning a silver.
In the 1500, Greg was in the hunt to medal for the majority of the race, turning ahead of or even with the likes of Romanchuk, Wellbrock, and Finke, but didn’t have the closing speed to maintain his lead, ultimately placing 4th in 14:45.01.
Paltrintieri ended his meet outside of the pool in the men’s 10k open water, where he placed 3rd, earning his 2nd medal, a bronze, of the Games.
2022 World Championships
Greg started out his meet in the 800 free, racing his 3 main competitors again in Romanchuk, Wellbrock, and Finke. It came down to the last 50 and all 3 got the best of Greg, as he ultimately placed 4th in 7:41.19.
In the 1500 final, Greg took a slightly different approach – he put it all out there from the beginning. Paltrinieri went out hard and kept building the lead over his competition through the first 1200. By the tiem they were trying to make their moves, Greg was far out of reach, swimming ahead of the world record line until the very last 50 meters. He ultimately clocked a 14:32.80, the #2 performance of all-time, to win gold.
In open water, Paltrinieri once again proved his dominance, winning the 10k as well as placing 2nd in the 5k and earning bronze in the team relay event.