2022 EUROPEAN AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Thursday, August 11 – Wednesday, August 17, 2022 (pool swimming)
- Rome, Italy
- Parco Del Foro Italico
- LCM (50m)
- Meet Central
- Live Results
With the pool swimming portion of the 2022 European Aquatics Championships coming to a close on Wednesday, it’s time to hand out some hardware to the top performers from what was an exciting seven days of action at the Foro Italico in Rome.
Below, find SwimSwam’s official awards for the women’s competition:
SWIMMER OF THE MEET: MARRIT STEENBERGEN (NED)
Despite being a lesser-known name coming into the championships, Dutchwoman Marrit Steenbergen had a standout performance in Rome, filling the void left by the retirements of legends Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Femke Heemskerk.
Steenbergen accumulated seven medals over the seven-day competition, including winning a pair of individual titles in the women’s 100 (53.24) and 200 freestyle (1:56.36). The 22-year-old added a third individual medal with a silver in the 200 IM, nearly running down winner Anastasia Gorbenko.
In the relays, Steenbergen was a stalwart for the Netherlands. On the opening night of racing, she anchored the Dutch team to gold in the women’s 4×200 free relay, putting up the fastest split in the field of 1:56.26 to lead the nation to their first-ever title in the event.
Steenbergen then split 52.33 on the mixed 4×100 medley relay to the lead the Netherlands to victory by nearly two seconds, and she added two more medals with bronzes in the women’s 4×100 free and 4×100 medley. In the medley, Steenbergen saved some of her best work for last, as she came home in 52.23 to help the Netherlands run down Italy to get on the podium and set a new National Record of 3:57.01.
- Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – Despite taking on a lighter schedule than usual, only racing two events individually, Sjostrom still came away with five medals at the championships. The 29-year-old won the title in the women’s 50 fly for the fifth time, breaking the 25-second barrier for the 14th time, something no one else in history has ever done. Sjostrom also put up the fastest 50 free time in the world this year, 23.91, to win the title for the second time, and she added a third gold medal with a 52.04 anchor leg on Sweden’s victorious women’s 4×100 medley relay. The Swede added a silver medal on the women’s 4×100 free relay, leading off Sweden in 53.12, and also split 52.68 to help the team set a National Record and win bronze in the mixed 4×100 free.
- Simona Quadarella (ITA) – Although she narrowly missed winning the women’s distance treble for the third straight time, Quadarella had a strong performance that included winning third consecutive titles in the women’s 800 free (8:20.54) and 1500 free (15:54.15). Her swim in the 1500 free was two seconds faster than she was at the World Championships in June, while the 800 was just a second and a half off. On the last night in the 400 free, the 23-year-old put up a valiant effort against Germany’s Isabel Gose, but had to settle for silver in a time of 4:04.77. Despite falling shy of the win, this was Quadarella’s third-fastest swim ever in the event, only trailing her European title wins in 2018 (4:03.35) and 2021 (4:04.66).
- Benedetta Pilato (ITA) – Pilato only picked up one gold medal at the championships, but that doesn’t the whole story of her performance in Rome. She won gold in the women’s 100 breast, nearing her lifetime best of 1:05.70 in the prelims (1:05.77), and then reeled off three straight sub-30 swims in the 50 breast but ran into Ruta Meilutyte. The 17-year-old Pilato stepped up with the fastest split in the field in the meet-ending women’s 400 medley relay, clocking 1:05.65, but the Italians ultimately fell just shy of the podium in fourth.
SWIM OF THE MEET: RUTA MEILUTYTE (LTU), 50 BREASTSTROKE
The female performance of the meet came in a semi-final, as Ruta Meilutyte reset her personal best time in the women’s 50 breaststroke for the first time in more than nine years.
Meilutyte, who broke out by winning a stunning gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in the 100 breast, followed up by winning the 2013 world title in the event and also claimed silver in the 50 breast, having set a new world record in the semis in a time of 29.48.
That swim stood up as her best time until this past Tuesday, when the now-25-year-old clocked 29.44 in the semis of the women’s 50 breast for a new Lithuanian Record and the fourth-fastest swim in history. It put her just 14 one-hundredths back of the world record, set by Italian Benedetta Pilato at 29.30 last year.
Although she wasn’t quite as quick in the final, Meilutyte did win gold in 29.59—the same time she went in the 2013 final to place second—to mark her second European title in the event, first winning it in 2014.
- Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), 50 freestyle – Sjostrom’s time in the final of the women’s 50 free was the fastest we’ve seen in the more than year, as she clocked 23.91 to surpass the 23.98 she produced to win the world title in June. It ties for the 21st-fastest in history, and since the beginning of 2020, only one swim, Emma McKeon‘s Olympic-winning effort of 23.81, has been faster.
- Analia Pigree (FRA), 50 backstroke – After winning bronze at the World Championships, Analia Pigree came through with a big performance in the final of the women’s 50 backstroke at Euros, setting a new French Record of 27.27. Pigree had been 27.29 in the World semis, but Kylie Masse‘s winning time in the final was slower, at 27.31, while Pigree was back in 27.40. At Euros, Pigree came through with her fastest swim when it mattered most, moving into 15th all-time.
NATION OF THE MEET: NETHERLANDS
There was quite a bit of parity on the women’s side of the competition, with 11 different nations winning at least one gold medal in 20 events. Only three—Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands—won more than one.
Despite not leading the ranks in terms of gold or total medals, the Netherlands earns our Nation of the Meet award thanks to a well-rounded effort.
The Dutch women had Marrit Steenbergen win two individual golds, and they had that historic victory in the 4×200 free relay.
Along with the 4×200 relay win, the Netherlands added bronze medals in the women’s 4×100 free and 4×100 medley relays, bringing their medal total to 10.
Italy had more gold and total medals overall, but failed to reach the podium in any of the women’s relays. Sweden also had more gold medals than the Netherlands, and did win a relay, but only had a total of five medals.
- Italy – The Italians won five gold medals on the women’s side, with Simona Quadarella and Margherita Panziera doubling up and Benedetta Pilato claiming the women’s 100 breast. While the home nation did score 13 medals total, failing to secure a single relay podium was the reason they don’t win the award.
- Sweden– The Swedes didn’t have the sheer number of high-level swims required to win this, but did win four gold and five total medals, with Sarah Sjostrom leading the way with wins in the 50 free and 50 fly. The Swedes also had Louise Hansson win the 100 fly, and they came out on top in the 4×100 medley relay to go along with a runner-up showing in the 4×100 free.
JUNIOR SWIMMER OF THE MEET: LANA PUDAR (BIH)
Benedetta Pilato has been excluded after being an HM for overall Swimmer of the Meet
Lana Pudar had a historic performance for her home nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the championships, as the 16-year-old won the country’s first-ever gold medal with her triumph in the women’s 200 butterfly.
Pudar broke her own National Record to win the event, clocking a time of 2:06.81 to surpass her previous mark of 2:07.58 set at the World Championships.
Prior to that, Pudar won bronze in the 100 fly in a Bosnian and Herzegovinian Record of 57.27, which at the time was the country’s first medal ever at Euros.
Earlier this summer, Pudar won the 50 and 200 fly at the European Junior Championships, marking an impressively busy and successful summer.
BREAKOUT SWIMMER OF THE MEET: MARRIT STEENBERGEN (NED)
See above. Steenbergen really came through with some big swims at Euros, most notably with her anchor legs that helped the nation win and get on the podium in some relays that maybe they weren’t expected to given the recent retirements of Kromowidjojo and Heemskerk.
Perhaps most impressively, the 22-year-old showed that she was able to manage a large program at a major competition, racing 14 times in seven days and looking strong right up until the end.