DEBRECEN, Hungary: Italy’s Federica Pellegrini (above) dominated the women’s 200m freestyle to retain her title at the European championships here on Saturday and put down a marker ahead of the London Olympics in two months time.
While her time, 1min 56.76, was hardly spectacular being only the 12th fastest in the world this year, it was the way in which she controlled the race that caught the eye.
She touched the wall almost two seconds up on Germany’s Silke Lippok who also finished second to her two years ago in Budapest.
“Everyone was expecting me to win but it wasn’t so obvious for me,” she said.
“Lippok can swim a lot better than she did today. I had to be very careful.”
This was Pellegrini’s first individual race here this week after guiding Italy to their first ever team relay title in Thursday’s 4x200m freestyle. On Sunday she will conclude the championships in the 400m freestyle, a distance in which she is the double world champion.
Amongst the men, Serbia’s Milorad Cavic posted the fastest time in the world this year when claiming the 100m butterfly in 51.45, with Hungarian Laszlo Cseh second in 51.77.
This was a return to form for Cavic who after the 2008 Games in Beijing suffered a back injury following the 2009 world championships in Rome — he is now on course to clash with American swimming giant Michael Phelps in London.
Poland’s Radoslaw Kawecki won his first major title when lifting gold in the men’s 200m backstroke. He won in a time of 1:55.28 in front of local hope Peter Bernek.
Sunday’s closing day’s action features the men’s 50m freestyle in which Sweden’s Stefan Nystrand will start as favourite after posting the quickest time in the semi-finals.