Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) reinforced her status as favourite for the Olympic 100m freestyle crown in London this summer with a 53.09sec meet record (one of three on the day) at the Sette Colli international in Rome, her victory margin of more than a second gained almost entirely on the second lap.
Out in 26.02, Kromowidjojo had company in the form of Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom, 26.16, and Therese Alshammar, 26.44, with Dutch teammates Femke Heemskerk and Marleen Veldhuis on 26.39 and 26.10 respectively, and world champion Jeanette Ottesen on 26.23.
That's where the closeness at the helm ended, Kromowidjojo, on a world textile best of 52.75 in April, the only swimmer to challenge 53 and the only one inside 54 by the close. Sjostrom clocked 54.30, Alshammar 54.45. Heemskerk 54.53 and Veldhuis 54.63, the world champion left nursing 6th place in 54.72.
Kromowidjojo has now swum sub-53 once, sub-54sec four times and sub 54.4 seven times this season, all between March and June and may well be reminded with a smile from her coach in Eindhoven, Jacco Verhaeren, of the swift and consistent approach to success in Sydney 12 years ago of another Dutch dash diva who passed through his programme on the way to a born-again future under the charge of coach Paul Bergen - Inge de Bruijn.
Different stages of preparation in the mix, for sure, but Kromowidjojo gains in confidence with each passing note to opponents.
Japan's backstroke aces Aya Terakawa and Ryosuke Irie took a 100m victory each ahead of opponents who share the status of Olympic medal contender for London 2012, Anastasia Zueva (RUS) kept at bay in the women's final and Camille Lacourt (FRA) in the men's.
Terakawa took the lead down the first lap and turned in 29.43 on her way to a 59.42 meet record ahead of Zueva, on 29.69 and 1:00.35, third place going to Italian Elena Gemo, out in 29.96 and home in 1:00.75.
Irie lagged Lacourt at the turn, the world champion based in Marseilles through in 26.13, the Japanese visitor too Europe on 26.41. On the way to the end wall, Irie, the much stronger 200m man, edged level with Lacourt. There was nothing in it at the end, both men firing a lanky arm to the pad at the same time, the margin the eye couldn't see just 0.06, victory to Irie in 53.71. Third place went to Dutchman Nick Driebergen, on 54.53.
The third Japanese victory of the evening went to teenager Miyu Otsuka, on 4:38.73 in the 400m medley ahead of Italian Stefania Pirozzi, 4:40.88, and the winner's teammate Izumi Kato, on 4:41.82.
World Cup winner Chad Le Clos (RSA) eased away from the field by the half-way turn of the 200m butterfly, a 55.26 split the only one in the race inside 56.4. He extended his lead to a 1:55.87 victory by the close, with Kazuya Kaneda (JPN) getting past Francesco Pavone (ITA) to take second by 0.04sec in 1:57.67, Nikolay Skvortsov (RUS) locked out in 1:58.08.
Le Clos was straight back in four the 400m medley, his schedule telling in a 4:16.66 effort that left him fourth behind a clash of wills and skills between Luca Marin (ITA) and Kosuke Hagino (JPN). Hagino led on butterfly, Marin was still a second back after backstroke before closing the gap and opening up a winning margin of 1.5sec on breaststroke, while Hagino cam back at the Italian on freestyle. Marin had done enough, however, and stopped the clock in a meet mark of 4:12.04, to 4:12.46. Third place went to Federico Turrini (ITA), in 4:16.18, with Brazil's Thiago Pereira on 4:16.69 for fifth.
Martina Granstrom (SWE) clocked 2:08.85 for victory in the women's 200m butterfly ahead of 2004 Olympic champion and former world record holder Otylia Jedrzejcak (POL), on 2:09.73, third place going to Switzerland's Martina Van Berkel, on 2:10.53.
The A finals came to a close with victory for a second man from the club of Federica Pellegrini's boys, current partner and 2005 and 2007 world 100m champion Filippo Magnini (ITA) on 1:48.02 in the 200m freestyle, his pace just holding off fellow Italian Marco Belotti, 1:48.09, and Gregory Mallet, of France and Marseilles, on 1:48.24.