The 2013 Italian National Championships began Tuesday at the huge swim center in Riccione, and will serve as the selector meet for the 2013 World Championships.
In the first women’s race of the day, middle-distance freestyle World Record holder Federica Pellegrini followed-up on her flirtations with the backstroke races by winning the title in 1:00.69. That’s her best time by a full second, and as she gets more-and-more comfortable on the stroke, she seems to have the power and training to challenge a minute. After a disappointing London Olympics, she’s following the path of her arch-rival Laure Manaudou of France in making this transition.
Pellegrini showed her commitment to relays as well, as for her 2nd event of the day she anchored her team’s 400 free relay in 54.22: faster than she was at the Olympics.
Meanwhile, she’s dropped at least one of what used to be her primary events, as youth dominated the women’s 400 free final: all but one in the top 8 being born in the 90’s. The win went to 21-year old Martina de Memme in 4:10.54, which just misses the FINA automatic qualifying time. Martina Caramignoli was 2nd in 4:12.02. Carli Diletta, a 17-year old who should have been the favorite with Pellegrini out, was only 5th in 4:13.93.
Elena Gemo was 2nd in 1:01.55, and Arianna Barbieri was 3rd in 1:01.62. That’s a disappointing result for Barbieri, who had such a spectacular year in 2012 that ended with a semi-final berth in London.
In the men’s 50 breaststroke, Mattia Pesce outgunned Fabio Scozzoli 27.32-27.38. That gives them the #1 and #3 times in the world this year. Scozzoli was the silver medalist in both the 50 and 100 at the last edition of the World Championships, so the victory for Pesce (a year younger) will be a big boost of confidence. Edoardo Giorgetti (27.85) and Francesco di Lecce (27.85) came in just behind in one of the deepest stroke groups in Italian swimming.
The one group that could challenge the sprint breaststrokes for that distinction would be the men’s sprint freestyles, and the torch seems to have been officially passed in the event to the younger generation, and specifically Luca Dotto. He won this race in 48.46, which is about a tenth improvement from his time at last year’s trials. Behind him in 2nd was Luca Lianardi, the only swimmer of the top 5 who wasn’t involved in their 7th-place Olympic 400 free relay. He was 49.13, followed by Marco Orsi in 49.14, and Filippo Magnini in 49.20. So far, for the 31-year old former World Champion Magnini, that means his will be only a relay swim for Barcelona, though the 50 is yet to come.
Michele Santucci was 5th in the event in 49.51. That leaves an interesting decision for Italian coaches, given that last year, his 48.85 was one of the better splits in prelims on this relay.
In the men’s 800 free, Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri continued his meteoric rise in the distance world with a 7:48.22; he was followed by Gabriele Detti in 2nd place, who just ran out of room in 7:48.43 despite making up over a second on the last 100 meters.
Both swimmers, who are only 18 years old, broke the old 18 & under record held by Federico Colbertado from 2007. Colbertado didn’t swim this race (we’ve heard no official word of his retirement, but at almost 25 years old it’s possible). Paltrinieri is the swimmer who knocked 31 seconds off of his 1500 time in the year leading up to the Olympics to end up just missing a medal in London. After swimming so fast here, extrapolation would imply a 14:45 or better in that longer race later in the meet.
19-year old Stefania Pirozzi won the women’s 200 fly in 2:08.75. That’s a full second better than her seed time in the event, and gives her an automatic qualifying time for the World Championships.