With just two events of this year’s World Para Swimming World Series remaining, here are five things learned from the fourth event of the series in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy (24-27 May).
Italian debut a success both in and out of pool
Lignano Sabbiadoro was the first Italian venue to host the World Series, and the city certainly didn’t disappoint.
There was plenty for the home crowds to celebrate as the hosts topped the medal table with 18 medals, including seven golds.
Standout moments for the hosts included Carlotta Gilli’s five medals from five events, Efrem Morelli’s two wins and Francesco Bocciardo beating defending World Series men’s champion Daniel Dias to secure the victory in the 100m freestyle, which produced one of the biggest cheers of the competition.
Lignano attracts swimmers from all over the world
The fourth World Series event of the season might have been hosted by Italy, but there was an international feel in Lignano Sabbiadoro, with more than 260 swimmers from 31 countries and five continents competing.
Despite the hosts’ domination, there was also an international feel on the podium, with swimmers from 14 countries making trips to the podium. The USA and Brazil both produced a strong showing across the Atlantic, winning eight medals each, while Japan won seven, including wins for Dai Tokairin and Uchu Tomita.
There were multiple wins for Ihar Boki of Belarus and Yelyzaveta Mereshko of Ukraine.
Next generation of talent on show
In addition to the ‘A finals’, youth finals were also held in Lignano Sabbiadoro for swimmers under age 18.
Italy dominated the youth category, winning 11 of the 19 finals, with Carlotta Gilli, Simone Barlaam and Misha Palazzo showing the future of Italian Para swimming is bright. The same can be said for the USA, with Makalya Nietzel and Elise Morley winning seven youth medals between them, before helping the USA win three senior relay medals.
The youngest winner in Lignano Sabbiadoro was Hungary’s Evelin Szaraz (born 2005) who was victorious in the 100m breaststroke youth final.
No rest for the best
With limited time between the morning’s heats and the finals in the evening, and many of the swimmers in action on multiple days, it was a case of Eat, Sleep, Swim, Repeat for the swimmers in Italy.
Carlotta Gilli showed no signs of fatigue as she finished on the podium in each of the five events she competed in. Colombia’s Carlos Serrano Zarate won three medals from his six events, including two in the space of 40 minutes on day two.
Gilli, Japan’s Keichi Nakajima and Canada’s Aurelie Rivard also made two trips to the podium in one night. Xenia Francesca Palazzo had one of the busiest schedules across the four days of competition, competing in seven events, and the Italian swimmer was rewarded with silver in the women’s 400m freestyle.
It’s getting to the business end of the World Series
The World Series rewards consistency and with just two events left, the swimmers are getting to the business end of the competition.
Carlotta Gilli certainly put herself into contention on her season debut, and the Italian will now be hoping for another strong showing in Sheffield, Great Britain (31 May-3 June).
The same can be said for defending men’s champion Daniel Dias. The Brazilian followed up his superb season opener from Sao Paulo with another two scores past 1,000 points, and the S5 swimmer has put himself in a strong position to successfully defend his title.
The World Series continues on Thursday (31 May) with the penultimate event of the competition in Sheffield, Great Britain (31 May-3 June), before the series finale in Berlin, Germany (7-10 June).
Full results from Lignano Sabbiadoro are available here.