2019 FINA World Championships Predictions: Gregorio Paltrinieri Aims For Third Straight 1500 Free Gold Medal

Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri is looking to win his third straight 1500 free World title. Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

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Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri has been the man the last few years in the men’s 1500 free. He had the fastest time in the world in 2014, was the world champion in 2015 and won the Olympic gold in 2016. He followed that up with a gold in the 2017 Worlds. But in 2018, he was third at the European Championships in an uncharacteristic 14:42, admitting he was sick that day and wasn’t at his best.

Paltrinieri has the top time in the world this year by over four seconds with a 14:38.34 from April. He is the only one to break 14:40 this year with Germany’s Florian Wellbrock sitting in second at 14:42.91. If Paltrinieri can touch first after 30 laps in Gwangju, then he would be just the second man to win this event three times after Australia’s Grant Hackett won four times from 1998-2005.

Paltrinieri sits second all-time in this event so the only thing left for him to achieve is to get under Sun Yang’s 14:31.02 world record from the 2012 Olympic Games. He was right on Sun’s pace at the 2016 Olympics but could not match his final 100. Paltrinieri may not be able to get down under 14:30 this year but he is still only 24.

Paltrinieri’s biggest challenge may come from Germany’s Wellbrock, who won the European title in 2018. Wellbrock has already shown he is in good shape as he won the 10K already at Worlds, punching his ticket for the 2020 Olympic Games in the event. Wellbrock has the second-fastest time in the world for 2019 and could give Paltrinieri a run for his money. Wellbrock already beat the Italian in the 10K as Paltrinieri was sixth. He is fourth all-time in this event with his swim from Europeans last year and is looking in good shape to be the one to end Paltrinieri’s run.

Mykhailo Romanchuk of the Ukraine was with Paltrinieri stroke for stroke in the final in Budapest two years ago, winning the silver with a 14:37. He also could not run down Wellbrock at the European Championships last year as he settled for silver there with a 14:36. Romanchuk sits fifth all-time with his swim from Glasgow last summer but hasn’t quite put together a gold medal performance in long course in this event. He won the 1500 at the World Short Course Championships in December over Paltrinieri, giving him some confidence heading into 2019. But Romanchuk has not contested this event this year so he is a bit of an unknown in terms of what he is capable of. He does have the top time in the world in the 800, which should be a good sign for his 1500.

Great Britain’s Daniel Jervis put together a fantastic swim at the British Trials in April with a 14:46.51 to put himself in the running for a medal. Jervis moved up to 22nd all-time and was just off the British record of 14:45.95 from David Davies. Jervis might not have enough to compete with the likes of Paltrinieri, Wellbrock and Romanchuk but should put up a fight. He won the Commonwealth Games silver last year with a 14:48 and has been steadily improving the last few years in this event. Will those steady improvements push him to a British record or under the 14:40 barrier?

The Americans have a dismal history in the men’s 1500. They only have one gold medal with Tim Shaw winning in 1975, and have only one medal in the last 10 years with Connor Jaeger winning silver in 2015. Jordan Wilimovsky and Zane Grothe showed out well for the United States last summer in this event, putting up the fourth and sixth-fastest times in the world, respectively. They do not rank in the top 10 in the world for 2019 but these distance events are all about racing. Wilimovsky was a 15:05 in March while Grothe was a 15:13. But Wilimovsky is tough, as evident by his fifth place finish in the 10K. How much energy will he have at the end of the World Championships? He has never attempted the pool-open water double so who knows what he is capable of there. Grothe has also never swam all three distance events in the same Worlds. He swam the 400 and 800 in Budapest but not the 1500.

Another dark horse for a medal is Australia’s Jack McLoughlin. He was a 14:52.83 at the Australian Trials in June and will have a busy week in Gwangju with the 400 and 800 free as well. Australia has a rich history in the 1500 with the likes of Hackett, Kieren Perkins and Stephen Holland dominating the days of yesteryear. He was a 14:47 at Commonwealth Games to win the gold medal in front of the home crowd and had the fifth fastest time in the world last year.

Current Records:

World Record: 14:31.02, Sun Yang, CHN – 2012
Championships Record: 14:34.14, Sun Yang, CHN – 2011
American Record: 14:39.48, Connor Jaeger – 2016

2017 World Champion: Gregorio Paltrinieri, ITA – 14:35.85
2018 Virtual World Champion: Florian Wellbrock, GER – 14:36.15 (Europeans)
2019 Fastest Times:

  1. 14:38.34, Gregorio Paltrinieri, ITA
  2. 14:42.91, Florian Wellbrock, GER
  3. 14:46.51, Daniel Jervis, GBR
  4. 14:48.52, Jan Micka, CZE
  5. 14:49.67, Henrik Christiansen, NOR
  6. 14:52.83, Jack McLoughlin, AUS
  7. 14:54.42, David Aubry, FRA
  8. 14:55.56, Alexander Norgaard, DEN

Swimming World’s team of Andy RossDan D’AddonaDavid RiederDiana Pimer and Taylor Covington will be selecting their choices for the medals at World Championships in each event. Read below who everybody picked.

Andy’s Picks:

  1. Gregorio Paltrinieri
  2. Mykhailo Romanchuk
  3. Jordan Wilimovsky

Dan’s Picks:

  1. Gregorio Paltrinieri
  2. Jordan Wilimovsky
  3. Mykhailo Romanchuk

David’s Picks:

  1. Gregorio Paltrinieri
  2. Florian Wellbrock
  3. Mykhailo Romanchuk

Diana’s Picks:

  1. Gregorio Paltrinieri
  2. Florian Wellbrock
  3. Henrik Christiansen

Taylor’s Picks:

  1. Florian Wellbrock
  2. Mykhailo Romanchuk
  3. Gregorio Paltrinieri

2019 FINA World Championships Predictions:

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  1. avatar

    Nice article…Plenty of mention of Wellbrock and Paltrinieri swimming Open Water this week.

    WHY NO COVERAGE OF THE OW RELAY FROM LAST NIGHT? If you have an article, I apologize, but I can’t find one anywhere. An incredibly close race with the top 3 teams separated by 0.3…

  2. avatar

    My money is on Florian. That WR is in danger!