David Popovici Adds Sette Colli Record in 200 Freestyle; Sarah Sjostrom Sizzles in 50 Free

David Popovici of Romania reacts after compete in the 100m Freestyle Men Semifinal during the FINA Swimming Short Course World Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre in Melbourne, Australia, December 14th, 2022. Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

David Popovici Adds Sette Colli Record in 200 Free on Final Day

David Popovici blasted the field in the men’s 200 freestyle on the final day of the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome, setting a meet record.

The Romanian, who qualified just three, won the final in 1:45.49. It downs the meet mark set in 2021 by Kristof Milak at 1:46.39. Popovici also set the record in the 100 free on Saturday.

Popovici was ahead at every wall and came home in 27.34. He was more than a second ahead of the field.

Tom Dean ended up second in 1:46.86. The Brit roared home in 26.46 to go from eighth at the 150 to second. He edged Stefano Di Cola by .04 seconds. Filippo Megli was fourth with Fernando Scheffer of Brazil fifth.

Sarah Sjostrom and Thomas Ceccon nearly took down records – a series mark and national record, respectively – earlier in the session.

Sjostrom started the final session by winning the 50 free in 23.93 seconds. That’s .01 off the record set in 2018 by Pernille Blume. Sjostrom’s countrywoman Michelle Coleman was second in 24.43.

Anna Hopkin of Great Britain finished third in 24.62, .03 up on Siobhan Haughey, who was looking to add to her 100 and 200 free titles in Rome. Italian Silvia Di Pietro tied for fifth, with three Dutch swimmers in the A final. (An oddity from the B final: Lithuanian sprint breaststroker Ruta Meilutyte went 25.19 to tie for 13th; she was within .15 of the national record she owns in that event.)

Ceccon nearly downed his Italian record in the men’s 50 butterfly, clocking in at 22.84 to win. He holds the national mark at 22.79 from the 2022 World Championships.

His time bested Szebasztian Szabo of Hungary by a quarter second. Szabo went 23.13. Noe Ponti was third in 23.27, followed by Nyls Korstanje (23.36) and Ben Proud (23.45).

Switzerland’s Roman Mityukov led the way in the men’s 200 backstroke at 1:56.56. That’s within .34 of the national mark he set at Euros a year ago.

Hidekazu Takehara of Japan finished second in 1:57.57. Britain’s Brodie Williams and Cameron Brooker were the only two others to break two minutes.

Kylie Masse delivered a composed and controlled swim to win the women’s 200 back. The Canadian was ahead at every wall in holding off Katie Shanahan to win in 2:08.91. Shanahan split 31.93 on the final 50, the only sub-33 split heading home, to grab second in 2:09.69. She passed Rio Shirai on that final lap, the Japanese swimmer third in 2:10.23.

Boglarka Kapas won the women’s 200 fly in 2:08.52, eight tenths clear of the field. She was ninth at the 100-meter mark and fifth entering the final 50 but roared home in 32.34 to rally past the field. Laura Stephens held on to third in 2:09.32, a tenth up on Dalma Sebestyen. Greece’s Georgia Damasioti beat a crowd to finish fourth, while Italian Ilaria Cusinato, the leader after 150 meters, slipped to sixth.

Arno Kamminga booked another win in the 200 breast in a time of 2:10.57. He was up at every wall and steadily pulled away from Erik Persson, Luca Pizzini and Alessandro Fusco, all of whom clustered within three tenths in the 2:11s. Kamminga’s time was well short of the meet record 2:07.63 he set in 2021.

Tes Schouten continued a stellar spring by winning the 200 breast, a tenth slower than the Dutch record she authored earlier this month. Schouten’s 2:21.84 was exactly two seconds ahead of runner-up Reona Aoki.

Schouten was re-written the Dutch recordboard this spring, going 2:22.21 in April and 2:21.71 this month at the Dutch Championships.

Francesca Fangio and Martina Carraro were third and fourth, respectively, for Italy.

Simona Quadarella got a win for the home country in a stirring battle with Valentine Dumont. Quadarella touched first in 4:05.85, using a split of 29.26 over the final 50 to unseat the Belgian, who led all the way to that point.

Dumont got a pretty consolation prize, her time of 4:06.27 lowering her national record for the second time this year. Dumont, who turns 23 next week, had set the Belgian mark at Sette Colli in 2020 at 4:09.41, then went 4:08.81 at Mare Nostrum last month. She’s now skipped the 4:07s entirely and nearly jumped out of the 4:06s, too.

Hungary’s Anja Kesely held close the entire way, going 4:06.41 for third. Italy’s Antonietta Cesarano and Portugal’s Francisca Martins also broke 4:10 (Martins set a national record of 4:08.77 last month at Mare Nostrum).

Alberto Razzetti topped Duncan Scott in a battle in the men’s 200 IM. Razzetti used a stellar breaststroke leg to just hold off Scott’s charge in freestyle by .09 seconds, the Italian winning in 1:58.74. Scott was more than a second clear of the rest of the chasers in 1:58.83. Ron Polonsky of Israel was third in 2:00.04, .11 up on Scott’s countryman Max Litchfield.

Sara Franceschi continued Italy’s hot streak by going 2:09.30 to win the women’s 200 IM and lower her national record in the process. Her breaststroke split of 36.80, eight tenths better than anyone else, proved decisive. She edged Marrit Steenbergen of the Netherlands by two tenths, in 2:09.51. Third place went to Katie Shanahan in 2:10.93, with her fellow Brit Abbie Wood fifth. In between was Anita Gastaldi.

Luca De Tullio capped the meet by winning the men’s 1,500 free. The Italian chugged past Irishman Daniel Wiffen on the final 100, after Wiffen had gone in front around the 550-meter mark. De Tullio got under 15 minutes at 14:59.68. Wiffen grabbed silver in 15:02.51. Third was Frenchman Damien Joly in 15:03.61, ahead of Ivan Giovannoni.

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