The five finals were won by swimmers from five different nations on day four of the LEN European Aquatics Championships in Rome.
Kristof Milak (Hungary), Analia Pigree (France), Marrit Steenbergen (the Netherlands), James Wilby (Great Britain) and Italy’s men in the 4x100m freestyle relay all celebrated Roma 2022 titles.
100m freestyle gold medallist and new world record holder David Popovici qualified from the 200m free semi-finals with the quickest time and will return on Monday.
WOMEN’S 200M FREESTYLE FINAL
Marrit Steenbergen of the Netherlands claimed her fourth gold medal of the Roma 2022 European Championships with a brilliant 200m freestyle win.
The 22-year-old, who earlier in the competition won the 100m free as well as the 4x200m freestyle and mixed 4x100m medley relays, finished in one minute 56.36 seconds.
That saw her hold off the respective silver and bronze medallists – Britain’s charging Freya Anderson (1:56.52) and Isabel Marie Gose of Germany (1:57.09).
“It’s an incredible week, because when I came here I did not expect this at all,” Steenbergen told LEN TV.
“The 100m is more of my distance, but the 200m is going well this season so I didn’t expect this and the pressure is a little off now which makes it even better.”
MEN’S 100M BUTTERFLY FINAL
After impressing in the 100m freestyle, where he won silver on day three, few doubted that Kristof Milak would secure the title in his traditionally favoured stroke – butterfly.
The Hungarian may not be as dominant over the 100m as the 200m distance, but with no Caeleb Dressel – the man who beat him to Olympic gold in this event at Tokyo 2020, Milak was the overwhelming favourite.
He duly delivered a masterful performance, touching in 50.33 seconds.
Noe Ponti of Switzerland (50.87) continued his breakthrough 12 months by adding European silver to his Olympic bronze in this event, with Poland’s Jakub Majerski (51.22) taking bronze.
“It was an awesome atmosphere and a really magic pool where lots of Swiss people came to watch me,” Ponti told LEN TV. “I’m really relieved to finally get medals this year so I will be celebrating.”
WOMEN’S 50M BACKSTROKE FINAL
Kira Toussaint of the Netherlands was the defending champion, but has been a little of her best form during 2022 and despite a strong fight she was unable to repeat her Budapest 2020 success.
At the 2022 edition there would be new champion with Analia Pigree producing a personal best – and French record – at the perfect time. 27.27 enough for a maiden European gold.
Silvia Scalia of Italy (27.53) took silver with Maaike de Waard (27.54) securing bronze.
“I’m proud of myself and to win my first medal at the European championships is amazing,” Pigree told LEN TV. “After third at Worlds I wanted first at the Europeans and I did what I had to do!”
MEN’S 200M BREASTSTROKE FINAL
Ahead of the final the gold was expected to go to any one of Matti Mattsson, Luca Pizzini or Andrius Sidlauskas who were in lanes 3-5.
In the early stages the race appeared to be going as predicted, but no-one was really looking towards lanes 8 where Commonwealth 100m breaststroke champion James Wilby was picking up the pace in the closing stages.
Mattsson fought as he saw the Briton advancing way over to his right hand side, but the surge came too late and Wilby finished in 2:08.96 to secure a shock first individual European crown.
The Finish swimmer (2:09.40) took silver, with Pizzini (2:09.97) taking bronze
“I always say, get out fight because ‘fortune favours the brave’ and so I went strong from the start and held on, so I’m really proud of that performance,” Wilby told LEN TV.
MEN’S 4X100M FREESTYLE RELAY
The final event of the fourth night of Roma 2022 was the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay which was the last opportunity for the hosts to maintain their run of winning at least one title on each night of the championships.
France began the quicker though and led after Maxime Grousset’s opening leg, before their challenge faded and they were ultimately disqualified.
The Italian’s pulled ahead and in the final leg it was clear they would take gold.
The race for the minor medals was much more of a battle with Hungary, Great Britain and Spain all in contention but it was the former two who help on.
Kristof Milak claiming his second medal of the night with silver, while Britain’s senior European championship debutant Ed Milward did just enough to secure his team the final place on the podium.
“This is a fantastic relay medal,” Alessandro Miressi told LEN TV. “It was so loud in the stadium and it really helped us towards the win.”