Two days after winning the men’s 100 free on Day One of the 2016 Italian Assoluti National Championships and Olympic Trials with 48.40 (you can read our coverage here), Luca Dotto of Forestry became the first Italian man in history to break through the 48-second barrier leading off Forestry’s 400 free relay in 47.96.
There’s something about the leadoff of the men’s 400 free relay that brings out the best of Dotto. He did it last year as well when he led off Forestry’s 4×100 free relay in 48.40, which was .10 faster than Marco Orsi’s winning time in the individual event two days prior. This year Dotto’s repeat performance broke the Italian national record and vaulted him to Number 2 in the world for the season.
Dotto has improved both halves of his race over the last 12 months. His up-front speed is especially notable; since last year Dotto has taken .34 off the first leg of the 100.
For comparison, here are Dotto’s four swims from 2015 and 2016 Assoluti:
|2016 Relay Leadoff||2016 100 Free||2015 Relay Leadoff||2015 100 free|
|47.96||48.40 (1st place)||48.40||49.04 (3rd place)|
Dotto was already qualified for this summer’s Olympic Games in this event, but at .44 faster than his original qualifying time, he now looks like he could be among the finalists in Rio. At a minimum, he’ll need to slice another half second off his time to make the podium. Still, Dotto’s time would have put him on the third step of the podium at World Championships in Kazan last summer, and would have been 7th in the 100 free final at the 2012 Olympics in London.