Italy’s Luca Dotto claimed the title of Europe’s fastest swimmer when he won the men’s 100 metres freestyle final at the European aquatics championships in London by a finger’s length on Friday.
In a furious finish to the two-lap dash, Dotto managed to hit the wall in 48.25 seconds, 0.07 ahead of Sebastiaan Verschuren of the Netherlands for the crown, although he was unable to match the European and championship record set by France’s Alain Bernard in 2008.
It was virtually impossible to split the top three with the naked eye, but Dotto and Verschuren were awarded gold and silver respectively, while Clement Mignon of France recorded 48.36 to take the bronze in a classic race where all eight finalists were separated by less than a second.
“I’m very happy to win the gold here, because my family sit in the stands today and they bought tickets only for this session,” Dotto told reporters. “This is the first time since Shanghai 2011 that I’m back on the podium at a big international event and that shows that I’m on the right way to Rio.”
Dotto set himself up for the win by turning first at the 50 metre mark in 22.90 seconds compared to Verschuren, who started poorly to turn last in 23.59, but was still nearly caught by the Dutch swimmer after he produced the fastest second lap time of the entire field.
Verschuren still had much to celebrate, however, after his national federation confirmed his silver medal effort in the 100 metres freestyle, along with his gold in the 200 metres freestyle earlier in the week, meant he was added to the Netherlands’ Olympic roster.
Pedersen Defends Title
Elsewhere, Denmark’s top medal hope Rikke Pedersen predictably defended her 200 metres breaststroke crown, stopping the clock in a time of two minutes 21.69 seconds, after Britain’s top qualifier Chloe Tutton finished in sixth.
Jessica Vall Montero of Spain, who recorded a time of 2:22.56, narrowly missed beating Pedersen in the final few strokes, while Iceland’s Hilde Luthersdottir followed up silver in the 100 metres breaststroke with a third place finish in 2:22.96.
“I didn’t focus on the young girls, tried to swim my own race,” Pedersen said. “I’m still in the phase of preparations (for the Olympics) so it’s a good time and it’s great to be European champion again.”
Britain’s other challenger Molly Renshaw took the early lead with a 32.86 second split at the first 50 metres, but world record holder Pedersen quickly showed her mettle by regaining control of the race going into the final lap, Vall Montero following close behind.
With Luthersdottir also finding a higher gear in the final quarter of the race, Renshaw found herself locked out of the medals in fourth place, while her compatriot Tutton never appeared a threat to the leading pack at any point and swam slower than her qualification time.
In the mixed 4×100 metres freestyle relay, the Dutch team of Verschuren, Ben Schwietert, Maud Van Der Meer and Ranomi Kromowidjojo set a new championship record of three minutes 23.64 seconds to triumph over Italy and France.
Italy clocked 3:24.55, 0.91 seconds behind the Netherlands for the silver despite Federica Pellegrini’s best efforts to reel in Kromowidjojo, as the French quartet recorded 3:25.49 for the bronze.
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