Alex Di Giorgio, Circolo Canottieri Aniene, stopped the clock at 1:48.12 in the 200m freestyle, the last final of the 2013 Italian nationals in Riccione. Before the clock got to 1:49 five others had finished the hunt for 4x200m freestyle places at the World Championships in Barcelona this summer.
For the champion, victory marked a personal best time inside 1:48.36 on Mare Nostrum tour last year after a 1:49.09 as he turned 21 in 2011.
Twice a world 100m champion in the past, Filippo Magnini, SMGM Team Nuoto Lombardia, took silver in 1:48.42, 0.06sec ahead of backstroke ace Damiano Lestingi, Circolo Canottieri Aniene, with Gianluca Maglia, Gr.Nuoto Fiamme Gialle, 0.04sec further adrift.
That left multiple champion Federico Turrini, Centro Sportivo Esercito, already on the team for action in Spain, fifth a further 0.1sec away in 1:48.62, Andrea D'Arrigo, Aurelia Nuoto, on 1:48.91. team prospects remain good but at a times when China has developed a wave of men that took their country from outside the world top 10 to Olympic bronze in the space of an Olympic cycle and with the likes of Kosuke Hagino providing further edge to the Japanese crew, the fight for the podium behind the biggest players is getting ever hotter.
The last session in Riccione produced some tight tussles and some comfortable margins of triumph. Francesco Pavone, Centro Sportivo Esercito/Andrea Doria, led from go to gold in the 200m butterfly, his 1:56.43 taking him close to the 1:55.94 Italian record held by Davide Natullo since the last season of shiny suits in 2009. The champion's personal best had been a 1:57.05 from the European Championships inn May last year.
The silver went to Gherardo Bruni, Team Nuoto Toscana Empoli, in 1:58.95, bronze to Niccolo Beni, Centro Sportivo Esercito/FiorentinaNuotoClub, in 1:59.34.
In the 200m breaststroke, Luca Pizzini, Centro Sp.vo Carabinieri/Fondazione M.Bentegodi, turned fifth at the half-way point, on 1:04.12, edged into fourth down the third lap and then swept past all with a 33.80 last-length drive for a 2:11.72 victory.
The sprint form home left him 0.2sec ahead of the leader at half-way, Flavio Bizzari, GS Forestale/Larus Nuoto, his 2:11.97 silver lining coming off a 1:03.24 split.
All of which left national record holder from a time of other suits back in 2009, Edoardo Giorgetti, Circolo Canottieri Aniene, confined to bronze in 2:12.06, 100m world s/c champion Fabio Scozzoli, Centro Sportivo Esercito/Imolanuoto, unable to hold off the 200m men, for fourth in 2:13.40.
You have to go down to 16th best performance ever by an Italian to find the national record in a textile suit, double Olympic champion Domenico Fioravanti on 2:10.87 for the crown at Sydney 2000. Pizzini has a best of 2:10.95 from 2009, today's victory marking a textile personal best inside a 2:12.57 from 2010.
Butterfly aces Ilaria Bianchi, GS Fiamme Azzurre/Nuoto Cl.Azzurra, and Silvia Di Pietro, GS Fiamme Azzurre/Nuoto Cl.Azzurra, rejoined battle for the 50m freestyle, Bianchi getting the touch 25.52 to 25.59, the bronze going to Erika Ferraioli, Centro Sportivo Esercito, in 25.64.
The men's backstroke dash went to teenager Niccolo Bonacchi, Centro Sportivo Esercito/Nuotatori Pistoiesi, in 25.25, 0.08sec ahead ofStefano Pizzamiglio, GS Fiamme Oro Roma, his teammate national record holder Mirco Di Tora, on 24.77 in 2009, on 25.56 today.
Martina De Memme, Centro Sportivo Esercito/Nuoto Livorno, claimed the 800m freestyle crown after racing all but stroke for stroke with Aurora Ponsele, Circolo Canottieri Aniene. It came down to the last 200m, De Memme edging ahead before a 1:01.35 split over the last two laps to seal the title in 8:31.46, Ponsele on 8:33.18. The bronze went to Martina Caramignoli, Aurelia Nuoto, in 8:35.16.
The top three in the women's 100m breaststroke swam 1:08s, gold and silver separated by 0.01sec, the touch to Michela Guzzetti, Centro Sportivo Esercito/Aqvasport Rane Rosse, in 1:08.22, Lisa Fisssneider, Bolzano Nuoto, just shy of catching the leader down the home lap. Giulia De Ascentis, Circolo Canottieri Aniene, took bronze in 1:08.84.