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Pizzetti Strikes Back; Pellegrini Pounces

Apr 11, 2013  - Craig Lord

At an Italian championships in Riccione marked by the determination of teenagers to break into senior international waters, Samuel Pizzetti struck back for the over 20s with a 3:48.44 victory in the 400m freestyle.

Day 3 finals also witnessed a backstroke breakthrough, freestyle ace Federica Pellegrini, Circolo Canottieri Aniene, punching a hole in the pride of specialists with a 2:08.05 victory, best ever in textile by an Italian, off a 1:03.25 half-way split. That left her just shy of the 2:08.03 national mark held by Alessia Filippi since the last season of shiny suits in 2009. 

Over eight laps on freestyle, one of Pellegrini's usual haunt, Pizzetti, 26, raced in line with three teens at the half-way turn with his first lead split of the race a 1:54.73. The Centro Sp.vo Carabinieri/Nuotatori Milanesi swimmer then ripped half a second off his opponents over the next 50m, and then at least half a second more on the way to the 300m turn on 2:51.91, 18-year-old Gabriele Detti, Centro Sportivo Esercito/SMGM Team Nuoto Lombardia, trying to keep pace as second man through in 2:53.28, Andrea D'Arrigo, 17, on 2:53.66.

Detti then showed the same determination that left him just shy of the 1500m crowd in a  fight with Gregorio Paltrinieri earlier in the championships. As Pizzetti held flow and managed a 27.91 last lap, Detti produced a last lap split of 26.69 as he chased down his quarry. Pizzetti got away, the crown his in 3:48.44, 0.07sec ahead of Detti, both men in line for business in Barcelona at world titles this summer. D'Arrigo, Aurelia Nuoto, took bronze in 3:50.47, Paltrienieri locked out in 3:51.82.

In the last race men's final of the day, GS Fiamme Oro Roma A team, set an Italian club record of 3:16.54 to win in the 4x100m freestyle, Luca Leonardo (49.08), Stefano Pizzamiglio (49.60), Lucio Spadaro (49.63) setting up the hand for Marco Orsi to deliver gold with a 48.23 split. SMGM Team Lombardia A clocked 3:18.13 for silver, Filippo Magnini out first in 49.15, while the bronze went to Gr.Nuoto Fiamme Gialle in 3:20.96.  

World short-course champion Ilaria Bianchi, GS Fiamme Azzurre/ Nuoto Cl.Azzurra 91, was out in 27.11 on the way to a dominant 58.14 victory in the 100m butterfly. Close at the half-way mark was dash champion Silvia Di Pietro, Circolo Canottieri Aniene, on 27.43, but on the way home she felt the strain and succumbed to the challenge of clubmate Elena Di Liddo, second in 59.97, and Valentina Zonno, Larus Nuoto, third in 1:00.01. Di Pietro was locked out by 0.07sec.

Stefania Pirozzi, GS Fiamme Oro Roma/Circolo Canottieri Napoli, became the second Italian woman ever to break 4:40 in the 400m medley. She took the crown in 4:39.79 (1:03.48; 2:15.67; 3:36.71), a personal improvement from a 4:40.48 best in 2011.

Alessia Filippi was the first Italian to crack 4:40, with a 4:35.80 back in 2006. In 2008, she set the current national record of 4:34.34 for 5th at the Olympic Games in Beijing. Pirozzi, who leaves behind her teenage years this season, was a class apart in her race, the minor spoils to Carlotta Toni, 17, on 4:47.14, and Luisa Trombetti, on 4:48.34.

The men's 200m backstroke went to 400IM winner Federico Turrini, Centro Sportivo Esercito/Nuoto Livorno in 1:58.07 (58.07 at the 100m, a minute home). With him at the half-way, on 58.02, Damiano Lestingi, Circolo Canottieri Aniene, was still in the hunt for gold at the last turn but a 29.60 home comer for Turrini settled the argument and Lestingi took silver in 1:59.66, just staving off teammate Mattia Aversa, on 1:59.94 for bronze, the third CCA clubmate of five in the final, Christopher Ciccarese locked out of the medals in 2:00.07.

Pellegrini was ahead after 50m in the 200m backstroke and the victor-in-waiting by half-way, on 1:03.25. her last three 50m splits were metronomic: 32.32, 32.30, 32.50. All of which left her well ahead of 16-year-old Ambra Esposito, Centro Ester, Napoli, on 2:12.18, Carlotta Zofkova, GS Forestale Imolanuoto, 2:12.44, Margherita Panziera, the third teen in the hunt, locked out in 2:12.66.

The session ended with an interesting result: Centro Sportivo Esercito's women clocked 8:10.53 for 4x200m free relay gold, Alice Nesti out in 2:01.09 and Erika Ferraiola book-ending the result with a 2:06.49. It would have taken a 1:59 or so for Pellegrini to pounce and steal gold for Canottieri Aniene A but she split 2;04.04 and silver was the lining of an 8:15.46 total past the 8;17.04 bronze of SMGM Nuoto Lombardia. Pellegrini, world 200 and 400m record holder locked out of the medals at London 2012, has opted out of freestyle racing this season.

Piero Codia, Circolo Canottieri Aniene, took the 50m butterfly in 23.73, 0.08sec ahead of the man who yesterday became the first Italian inside 52sec over 100, Matteo Rivolta, Team Insubrika/Creval. The bronze ant to 100m free champion Luca Dotto, GS Forestale/Larus Nuoto, in 24.14. The winning time shaved 0.05sec off Codia's personal best, from Italian junior nationals last August, while the 23.60 national mark of Paolo Facchinelli from a time of shiny suits in 2009 is not far away.