Simone Barlaam smashes records in return to pool

Italian swimmer establishes three new world marks and Stefano Raimondi sets another one in first competition after COVID-19 lockdown 21 Aug 2020
A male swimmer inside the pool giving thumbs up
Simone Barlaam was one of the 18 Italian Para swimmers to take part in the traditional Sette Coli Trophy in August in Rome
ⒸAugusto Bizzi/FINP
By FINP and World Para Swimming

Five months after the lockdown imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Italian swimmers returned to the water for the first time breaking four world records during the Sette Coli Trophy in Rome from 11 to 13 August.

Seven-time world champion Simone Barlaam was responsible for three of them, in the men’s 50m backstroke (27s81), 50m butterfly (26s59) and 100m freestyle class S9 (53s56).

Stefano Raimondi set a new world record in the men’s 50m butterfly S10 (24s87).

"All three [records] were beautiful, but perhaps the first [50m backstroke] is the one that surprised me the most, because preparing during the lockdown and being able to compete with the coronavirus still in circulation was not easy," Barlaam said to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

In its 57th edition, the Sette Coli Trophy is the most traditional international able-bodied swimming competition in Italy. 

This year, while there were few international guests due to the pandemic, 18 athletes from the Italian Para swimming team joined the competition. 

In a video message published by the Italian Para Swimming Federation (FINP), Barlaam added:

“The work we did during the lockdown is being rewarded now, not just with my results but also with Stefano’s and the rest of the team. I hope we can have more opportunities like that in the future with Para swimmers and able-bodied swimmers together because the water makes no distinction.”

Giulia Terzi in the women’s 100m and 200m freestyle S7 and Antonio Fantin in the men’s 100m freestyle S6 established new European records. 

Italy was one of the countries most heavily hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The coronavirus outbreak caused the cancellation of a series of sport events, including the World Series in Lignano Sabbiadoro, set to take place from 27 February to 1 March.
“We are proud of the team. Now we are waiting for the European Championships and for Tokyo Paralympic Games," said national team coach Riccardo Vernole.

The European Championships in Madeira is scheduled from 16-22 May next year and the Paralympic Games in Tokyo from 24 August to 5 September.