World Series 2024: Fantin, Newman-Baronius’ dazzling performances steal show

Athletes propel their respective nations Italy and Great Britain to six gold medals each, while two world records were broken in Lignano Sabbiadoro 18 Mar 2024
A swimmer celebrates after a race.
Paralympic champion Antonio Fantin clinched two out of the six gold medals claimed by Italy in Lignano Sabbiadoro.
ⒸAndrea Alegni
By Victor Pereira | For World Para Swimming

The third round of the Citi Para Swimming World Series 2024 stirred up Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy over the weekend with the hosts alongside Great Britain emerging as frontrunners and fighting for every spot at the podium.

Italy, boasting the largest contingent of participating athletes in this leg of the World Series, claimed the top spot on the medal table, securing a total of 17 medals (six gold, seven silver, and 4 bronze).

Two out of the six gold medals were grabbed by Paralympic champion Antonio Fantin (S6) winning the men’s 100m and 400m freestyle. In the first event, during the heats on the first day of races, Fantin broke his own world record and setting 1:02.70 as the new mark.

“I train everyday here so it’s special to make it in my second home in Lignano. I wanted to break my world record that I achieved in Manchester [2023 World Championships] last summer, so I would like to go faster on the next days and I hope this is only the beginning,” said the Italian swimmer.

The host nation also saw gold medals claimed by other Paralympic champions as Francesco Bocciardo (S5) in the men’s 200m freestyle, Simone Barlaam (S9) in the men’s 50m freestyle, Angela Procida (SM2) in the women’s 150m medley, and a special one, Arjola Trimi (S2) in the women’s 50m freestyle.

Trimi’s triumph cane on an extraordinary day, as she stood on the podium to receive a gold medal on her 37th birthday and the crowd of the Bella Italia Village honoured Italy’s two-time Paralympic champion by singing “Happy Birthday” in unison.

“I’m very happy and it’s an achievement that I didn’t expect. Happy birthday to me,” celebrated the Italian swimmer.

British female power

Following closely on the medals table, Great Britain demonstrated consistent performance in Lignano, especially with the female athletes, matching Italy’s gold medal count with a total of nine medals (six golds, one silver, two bronzes).

Seventeen-year-old Olivia Newman-Baronius (S14) stole the spotlight and was responsible for half of the British golden haul.

Newman-Baronius triumphed in the women’s 100m breaststroke, 100m butterfly, and 200m freestyle events in addition to a bronze medal in the women’s 100m backstroke.

British Paralympic champions Alice Tai (S8) and Tully Kearney (SM13) also collaborated to the British haul as Tai won in two events, 100m freestyle and backstroke, while Tully Kearney (S5) triumphed in the 50m backstroke.

Records galore

Besides the new mark set by Fantin in the men’s 100m freestyle S6, another global record was broken during the Citi Para Swimming World Series Lignano Sabbiadoro 2024.

Hong Kong’s Yui lam Chan lowered seven seconds on her own mark in the women’s 200m butterfly S14 clocking in 2:26.17 in Lignano.

There was also a total of 11 continental records broken, with five of them achieved by Husnah Kukundakwe (UGA), the 17-year-old athlete who is reshaping the narrative of African Paralympic swimming by substantially enhancing records and emerging as the emblem of a burgeoning movement.

The United States of America rounded off the medals table’s podium with three golds, two silvers, and three bronzes.

Full results of the Citi Para Swimming World Series Lignano Sabbiadoro 2024 can be found here.

Next stop: USA

After the third meet, the Citi Para Swimming World Series will now take a four-week break before heading to USA.

Indianapolis will host the Citi Para Swimming World Series USA, again marking the first of the two World Series in the Americas region this year.

Ahead of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, three more meets are in the schedule: Singapore in April, Berlin in May, and France in June.

The World Series 2024 will then resume in November with the second American meet in Mexico and Egypt in December.