Sette Colli Trophy: What to Expect From Italy’s Best Swimmers in Rome

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Italy's Nicolo Martinenghi. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The Sette Colli Trophy meet will be held in the famous Foro Italico in Rome starting Tuesday and going through Thursday, as the clock starts ticking under 365 days to the reset Tokyo Olympic Games. The Sette Colli has long been one of the premiere in-season meets in European swimming as some of Italy’s best will be present at the pool that hosted the 1960 Olympics and the 1994 & 2009 World Championships. World records have been broken in year’s past and some have done lifetime bests in the historic pool.

The Rome pool is fast, and it should produce some fast swims this coming weekend.

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The Pool at the Foro Italico in Rome, the setting of the Sette Colli – Photo Courtesy: Craig Lord

This year’s version of the Sette Colli will be a unique setup, as the meet will only be three days long and men and women will swim in different sessions for prelims as the top eight will all return for finals. With the coronavirus shifting the Olympic year back another 365 days, many swimmers have spent the summer just trying to maintain some sort of fitness as they prepare to tackle Tokyo ahead of next year, as this weekend will be their first competition in many months since the coronavirus first started shutting sports down in March.

There have been a lot of question marks surrounding the fitness of the world’s swimmers as they come out of this summer with minimal training and little preparation as they have been forced out of established routines and have had to get creative to find new ways of training on land. But some swimmers have been able to return to racing without any bumps, and some – like USA’s Claire Curzan, Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey and Austria’s Felix Aubock, have been able to swim lifetimes bests this summer.

When many swimmers were out of the water and training on land in their garages, it felt like the year 2010 after the shiny suit era of 2008 and 2009 when many people in swimming circles believed that the sport had taken a step back and would never break the world records set the year prior in Rome. It took two years for one of those shiny suit records to land, but in the last 10 years, 28 of those world records have been broken, and just 12 remain. Long story short, swimming was able to get back on track, and it may take a shorter amount of time to get back than many initially thought.

What will the Sette Colli look like this week? If the small number of time trials are any indications, the clock will definitely matter despite what many originally thought.

Sette Colli – Who Will Be There?

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Gregorio Paltrinieri will be at the Sette Colli in Rome. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Many of Europe’s best swimmers will be in attendance in Rome from

  • Martina Carraro
  • Gabriele Detti
  • Elena Di Liddo
  • Nicolo Martinenghi
  • Gregorio Paltrinieri
  • Margherita Panziera
  • Federica Pellegrini
  • Simona Quadarella 
  • David Verraszto (Hungary)
  • Marco Koch (Germany)
  • Marc-Antoine Olivier (France).
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Federica Pellegrini will be one of the main attractions at this weekend’s Sette Colli. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

This is the first swim meet for a lot of Europe’s best that did not attend the 4 Nations meet a couple weeks ago in Budapest as we are 348 days until the Tokyo Olympic Games.

It is hard to predict what to expect from these swimmers, since there is no data to determine who is in shape, who is ready to race, or who is in the right mindset to attack a competition. Expect the unexpected, and one thing is for certain ahead of the Sette Colli: the swimmers will be eager to race and see where they are a year out from Tokyo.

Here are some races and individuals to keep an eye on this week in Tokyo:

Women’s 100 Breaststroke

Martina Carraro, the 2019 Worlds bronze medalist, will be racing alongside Worlds finalist Arianna Castiglioni and European junior champ Benedetta Pilato, as well as Lisa Mamie of Switzerland. Italy has become a deep nation in women’s 100 breast, and the three favorites for next year will be on display in Rome.

Women’s 1500 Freestyle

Simona Quadarella, the reigning world champion, will be swimming her pet event in front of the Foro Italico crowd as the Italian people will be able to see what kind of shape she is in as she continues to train for the debut of the 1500 freestyle in Tokyo.

Men’s 800 Freestyle

Reigning world champ Gregorio Paltrinieri will line up alongside 2017 world champ Gabriele Detti, training partner Domenico Acerenza and 10K Worlds silver medalist Marc-Antoine Olivier in one of the more intriguing races due to the fact of the differences in racing styles. Paltrinieri and Acerenza seem best fit for the 1500 while Olivier is bette at the marathon distances in open water while Detti seems to specialize in the 400. They all intersect here in the 800 and it will be a fun race if they are all on form.

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Gabriele Detti will be at the Sette Colli in Rome. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Women’s 200 Freestyle

What type of shape is reigning world champ Federica Pellegrini in? She will be racing Russia’s Anna Egorova as the Italian is on the cusp of what would be her fifth trip to the Olympic Games in 2020. Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey was a 1:54 not long ago in an unofficial time trial, so what does Pellegrini have up her sleeve?

Men’s 200 Freestyle

Italy was three hundredths of a second away from a medal at last year’s Worlds in the 4×200 free relay, and three of the four will be next to each other on Thursday in the 200 freestyle. Stefano Di Cola, Stefano Ballo and Gabriele Detti teamed up with Filippo Megli to just miss the podium at the World Championships, but will be hungrier than ever to get a spot on the podium. The Italian people will get a chance to see what kind of shape their relays are in before they start the year-long climb to Tokyo.

The Sette Colli will begin Tuesday morning in Rome at 9:00 a.m. local time with finals beginning at 19:00 local time. Start lists can be viewed here.

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