Gregorio Paltrinieiri won his first major long course international gold of his career Sunday night in the 1500m freestyle, churning out a new European record of 14:39.67.
That time broke his own European mark of 14:39.93 from the 2014 European championships that made him the first European man to ever break 14:40 in the 1500m freestyle.
Taking 0.26 seconds off his record, Paltrinieri is still ranked as the fifth fastest 1500m freestyler ever behind Canadian Ryan Cochrane. The Italian is slowly inching up on Cochrane’s 14:39.63 personal best from the London 2012 Olympic Games, posting a time tonight in finals that was 0.03 seconds short of it.
With defending Olympic and world champion Sun Yang absent from the final because to what is believed to be a heart problem, Paltrineiri took advantage of the opportunity.
Without Sun, Cochrane was arguably the favorite to take home gold, however Paltrinieiri passed him at the 500-meter mark and stayed in first for the remainder of the race.
As Cochrane faded at the 1050, American Connor Jaeger began to creep up on Paltrinieri slowly. He was throwing up fairly consistant splits with the Italian , and gaining slight ground.
On the last 50 Jaeger tried to reel Paltrinieiri in, but he was too far ahead and ultimately touched for gold. Jaeger was second in a new American record time of 14:41.20. Cochrane ended up third, rounding out the podium with a 14:51.08.
Paltrinieri is making a name for himself in distance swimming as the second fastest man in the world behind only Sun from China. Paltrinieri also finished second in the men’s 800m freestyle final this week.
With his gold medal tonight, Paltrinieiri has a medal of each color from the world championships and is a podium favorite in the 1500m freestyle as the Rio 2016 Olympic Games approach.