Federica Pellegrini
Courtesy of: br1dotcom
RICCIONE, Italy, April 8. THE middle-to-distance freestyle events picked up the most acclaim this evening at the Italian Spring Nationals in Riccione as Gabriele Detti took down a European record in the 800 free, and Pellegrini nearly moved to the top of the world in the 400 free.

Christopher Ciccarese clipped Niccolo Bonacchi at the wall, 53.94 to 53.98, to win the men's 100-meter backstroke to kick off night one in Italy. Both of those times are among the top 10 in the SwimVortex world rankings. Simone Sabbioni claimed third-place overall with another close finish, downing Matteo Mill, 54.74 to 54.75.

Arianna Barbieri raced her way to victory in the women's 100-meter back with a 1:00.42. That swim puts her 10th in the world, just ahead of Georgia Davies' 1:00.45 from the Mediterranean Open in France earlier this year. Carlotta Zofkova finished second in 1:00.80 with Elena Gemo earning third in 1:01.71.


Mattia Pesce threw down a 27.38 to win the men's 50-meter breaststroke. That performance pushed him to third in the world rankings behind only Christian Sprenger (26.74) and Ross Murdoch (27.28) this year in the sprint breaststroke. Francesco Di Lecce cleared Claudio Fossi, 27.73 to 27.79, for second overall with both swimmers moving into the top 10 in the world. Even fourth place proved to be swift with a 27.81 from Andrea Toniato.

Federica Pellegrini continues to amaze, even five years removed from winning Swimming World's World Swimmer of the Year in 2009. The Italian superstar rocketed through the women's 400-meter freestyle finale with a 4:04.56 for the win. That's tied for second in the world with Bronte Barratt behind only Katie Ledecky's 4:04.46. Alice Mizzau (4:08.39) and Martina De Memme (4:08.95) battled for second in the finale.

The world has been searching for someone to challenge Ledecky's current dominance of middle-to-distance freestyle, and Pellegrini could step into that void if she continues with times like this. She is the only other swimmer besides Ledecky to break 4:00, albeit during the techsuit era.

Gabriele Detti crushed the European record in the men's 800-meter free with a time of 7:42.74. That swim blasted a second off Federico Colbertaldo's Italian record of 7:43.84 set at the 2009 World Championships in Rome. Detti's time also smashed the previously top-ranked time in the world of 7:53.88 clocked by Australia's Mack Horton at the Australian Aquatic Super Series. Gregorio Paltrinieri, the Italian record holder in the 1500 free, took second tonight in the 800 with a 7:43.01 to stand second in the world rankings, while Samuel Pizzetti touched third in 7:54.41 for fifth overall in the world.

Stefania Pirozzi followed up the pair of big freestyle swims with a 2:07.82 to top the women's 200-meter fly. That effort pushed her to fifth in the world rankings, just ahead of Natsumi Hoshi's 2:07.83 from the Australian Aquatic Super Series earlier this year. Alessia Polieri (2:09.30) and Claudia Tarzia (2:11.99) rounded out the top three in the finale.

Luca Dotto raced home in 49.04 to win the men's 100-meter freestyle in what proved to be a close contest throughout finals. Luca Leonardi (49.12), Filippo Magnini (49.12) and Marco Orsi (49.15) finished second through fourth in the A final.

The women's 400-meter freestyle relay closed out the night. Laura Letrari (56.22), Alice Nesti (56.70), Martina De Memme (56.80) and Erika Ferraioli (54.71) won the race for Centro Sportivo Esercito with a 3:44.43. GS Forestale (3:46.67) and C. Canottieri Aniene (3:48.54) finished second and third in the finale.


Results: Italian Spring Nationals: Day One