2018 VICTORIAN OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Friday, January 12th – Sunday, January 14th
- Melbourne Sports Aquatic Center (MSAC)
- Prelims 9am local/Finals 6pm local
- Meet Central
- Psych Sheets
In their first battle of the 2018 Victorian Open Championships in Australia, new training partners Mack Horton and Gregorio Paltrinieri showed one thing for certain: in spite of a relatively high-level meet, both swimmers are quite broken down and in the midst of heavy training (confirmed by Horton in a post-race interview below).
Horton wound up out-dueling his Italian cohort in the 400 free 3:51.38 to 3:51.80. David McKeon almost played spoiler, finishing 3rd in 3:52.04.
Watch the last 75 meters of the race below (Horton in the white cap, Paltrinieri in the black cap, McKeon in the yellow cap closest to the camera). Paltrinieri’s stroke looks basically the same as it always has – unbalanced with a really flat, low-to-the-water recovery on his left arm.
Paltrinieri hasn’t raced much in January in his career (2014 was the only year where he swam a January 400m free), but his performance in Victoria was actually better than it was that year. That’s significant for a couple of reasons. The first is that 2014 was the year where Europe was on the 2018, European-Championships-focus cycle. It was also the year where Paltrinieri swam his best-ever 400 free, in April at the Italian Championships, with a 3:48.41. He didn’t swim the event at that year’s European Championship, but Berlin wound up being a highlight meet of his career, where he swam his first sub-14:40 in the 1500 free (his pet event) and first sub-7:48 in his 800 free (all the way down to a 7:43).
Beyond that, the bigger question is how has the change in training impacted Paltrinieri? Is he swimming his races differently?
In early returns, there certainly appears to be a different strategy. Historically, Paltrinieri has followed a pretty consistent pattern in the 400 free – both at in-season meets, and at championship meets. Early in his career, that pattern was to push the first 50, back off until the 200 meter mark, then build back to the 400. As time has gone on. that pattern has evolved to see Paltrinieri push his first 50 pretty hard, and then back off on each 50 until the 300 mark. At that point, he historically would build a 50 and then hammer the last one.
Those patterns were pretty consistent – consistent enough to indicate a conscious plan.
This swim, however, was quite different. He still pushed his first 50, backed off on the 2nd 50, but then was basicallyeven for the next 300 yards before a much-less-pronounced kick on the last 50. His 50 splits on Friday were 27.15 – (29.12-29.26-29.26-29.24-29.41-29.61) – 28.75. The middle 300 was almost perfectly consistent.
We’ll need more data points to determine if this which pattern he winds up settling into, but it is an interesting shift in pattern.
For comparison sake, below see some by-100 splits from different meets throughout Paltrinieri’s career: 3 where his time was similar, and a 4th where he swam his best time.
|2018 Victorian Champs||2016 Milano Trophy||2015 World Cup – Moscow||2014 Italian Championships||2013 Italian Championships|
|January 12, 2018||March 19th, 2016||August 11, 2015||April 10, 2014||April 11, 2013|
|3:51.80||3:51.20||3:51.59||3:48.41 (Best Time)||4:51.82|
The two will travel to the coast now to swim the “Pier to Pub” open water swim. Hear more about the pair’s current training status from Horton below: