The 5 Most Important Storylines of the 2022 European Championships (Men’s Edition)

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 2

August 10th, 2022 News


The 2022 European Aquatics Championships begin on Wednesday in Rome, and while the meet hasn’t been getting nearly as much hype as other summer events, like the World Championships or Commonwealth Games, there is still a lot of big things that could happen this week in Rome.

Not the least of those is Italy, which is arguably the “hottest” nation in swimming right now, racing in front of a home crowd at a legendary venue at the Foro Italico.

Most of these storylines have been covered in other previews, but because of the tight turnaround, below we’ve summarized the really good ones, if you haven’t had time to read the blow-by-blows

1. Thomas Ceccon‘s Follow-Up In Front of a Home Crowd

After breaking the most surprising World Record of 2022 so far at the 2022 World Championships. Italy’s Thomas Ceccon will be out to cement his stardom in front of a home crowd in Rome.

Ceccon is entered in the 50 back, 100 back, 100 free, and 50 fly at the meet, which means no 100 fly after he swam 51.3 at a local meet in July. Besides the obvious follow-up to the 100 back, the 100 free might be the most tantalizing swim of this meet for him. He was 47.71 at the Olympic Games last summer in Tokyo and has dropped seven-tenths of a second in his 100 backstroke since then.

2. Kristof Milak in the 100 Free

If you think that World Champion David Popovici is the only contender in the 100 free at the European Championships, you are very wrong.

Besides the aforementioned Ceccon, there is yet another World Record holder moving in on his turf: Hungary’s Kristof Milak. Besides his usual 100/200 fly entries, Milak is also entered in the 100 free and 200 free in Rome. Normally, the instinct would be that ‘he’s probably going to scratch,’ but comments by his coach to the media over the last few weeks indicate that not only will he race the freestyle events, but that he’s really been focusing on them since Worlds.

He is the 12th seed in the 100 free with a time of 48.24 and the 6th seed in the 200 free in a time of 1:45.74. His relay splits from Worlds (46.8 in the 100 free, 1:44.6 in the 200 free) indicate that he has much faster swims in him.

3. Two Budding Superstars in the 400 Free

That 100 free, which is a better battle than it might look at first glance, isn’t even the David Popovici race that’s gotten the most hype.

Instead, that’s an off-beat entry in the 400 free, which is a race he hasn’t swum in years.

As the best 200 freestyler in the world, and a body built more for the 400 than the 50, the possibilities are there, and the swim is being rightfully hyped.

But the field is a very good one, especially by ‘continental’ standards, and that includes the top seed Lukas Maertens of Germany. Maertens swam 3:41 earlier this year, and while he wasn’t that fast at the World Championships, it was still one of the most exciting 400 frees we’ve seen in a generation, especially at only 20 years old.

With Felix Auboeck swimming well, and some big names out of Italy and other countries in the race as well, the veterans aren’t going to roll over for the youth, and that sets up a great gen-v-gen battle.

4. Arno Kamminga Chasing the Double, Even Without Peaty

2022 felt like the best opportunity for Dutch swimmer Arno Kamminga, arguably the 2nd-best breaststroker in history, to beat Adam Peaty in a major championship head-to-head. A foot injury meant no World Championships for the Brit, though, and disappointing results at the Commonwealth Games means no European Championships either, so Kamminga won’t get that chance.

It’s not as if Kamminga will be racing alone this weekend in Rome. There are other good entries, like James Wilby, the Commonwelath Games champion; Finnish 200 meter specialist Matti Mattsson; and Italian sprint star Nicolo Martinenghi.

But Kamminga is the favorite in the 100 and 200 both (he’s not entered in the 50). He could become only the 3rd swimmer in history to win both races in the same year since the 100 was added to the schedule in 1970. Gerald Morken did it in 1977, and Aleksandr Gukov did it in 1997.

5. A New Medals Champion in Europe?

The top of the medals tables at the European Championships usually circulate among a few usual nations. Great Britain won in 2020, Russia before that. Hungary and Germany have been frequent winners, and France in its heyday won a couple.

But those countries – and their predecessors – are about the extent of the table winners since the event was launched almost 100 years ago. While Italy is currently 5th on the all-time medals table, for much of the event’s history, they were an ‘also ran’ participant. Across all sports, they didn’t even finish in the top 3 for the first time until 2000.

They’ve now been in the top 3 in eight of the last 11 championships, including third in both 2020 and 201.

The two countries that have dominated recently are Great Britain and Russia. Russia has been barred from competition because of the country’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, and Great Britain will come with a much reduced (though not totally neutered) squad thanks to the quick turnaround from the Commonwealth Games.

Combined with Italy being the home team and its electric performance at the World Championships, this could be a breakthrough for them and their first ever trip to the top of the table.

Great Britain still has enough firepower with Tom Dean and others that they are in that conversation, though, and Hungary has a shot too, but expect a much different distribution of medals (and especially gold medals) than we normally see.

In 2020, 21 different nations won medals in swimming competition, which is where most of the European Championship awards are given.

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Pavid Dopovici
7 months ago

#1 Ceccon still with a mustache, in front of Home crowd , ready to break another WR

7 months ago

The podium for that 400m is a complete unknown. Galossi and David might signal the start of a new era…

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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