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Arena Elite Team recruits Italian long distance freestyle swimmer Gregorio Paltrinieri

Three-diamond debut scheduled for 3rd edition of the City of Milan Trophy.

Tolentino, 6 March – Global waterwear brand Arena has recruited Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri – one of the youngest swimmers to make his Olympic debut in London in 2012 – to its Elite Team ranks. Paltrinieri swims for the Coopernuoto club of Emilia Romagna and serves in the sports group of the Fiamme Oro (Gold Flames) division of the State Police. The 400m, 800m, and 1500m freestyle specialist will swim under the Arena banner for the next four years, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and will make his debut with his new technical sponsor at the third edition of the City of Milan Trophy (Trofeo Città di Milano) scheduled from 8-10 March at the D. Samuel Pool in via Maecenas.

Born in Carpi in 1994, Paltrinieri earned his first international medals as a 16-year-old at the 2011 European Junior Championships in Belgrade, where he won the 1500m gold and an 800m bronze in the same pool – the Tasmajdan – as the biggest achievement in Italian long distance swimming history, when Novella Calligaris won the 800m gold medal and set a new world record at the first edition of the World Championships in 1973. Further confirmation that Paltrinieri has a promising future came shortly thereafter at the World Junior Championships in Lima where he once again made the podium twice, with a 1500m freestyle silver and an 800m bronze.

But it was 2012 that launched Paltrinieri into the Olympic swimming realm. In March he won the Italian 800m freestyle title in 7:51.97 ahead of Rocco Potenza and Gabriele Detti, proving that he was fit and ready to qualify for the London Olympics. Two months later, the 17-year-old left everyone in his wake at the European Championships in Debrecen, defeating Hungarians Gergő Kis and Gergely Gyurta in the 1500m with the impressive time of 14:48.92, which also qualified him for the Olympics.

In London, Paltrinieri approached the starting blocks of his first Olympics with the spirit of one who had nothing to lose. He won his 1500m heat in a time of 14:50.11, his second-best performance ever, and qualified for the final with the fourth fastest time. Competing in the final with tendinitis in his left shoulder against the best swimmers in the world, he still finished fifth in 14:51.92. The young athlete’s season, however, was not yet finished. He finished the year at the European SC Championships in Chartres by winning the 1500m freestyle gold medal in 14:27.78, his personal best and the second fastest Italian time in history after Federico Colbertaldo’s national record of 14:24.21 set in 2008 during the hi-tech swimsuit era.

Greg – as he is known affectionately – swam his first strokes in the water at three months old when his parents took him to an infant’s aquatics course, and he learned to move comfortably in the water long before he did on terra firma. His father Luca, a former capable swimmer in his own right, managed the pool in Novellara in the province of Reggio Emilia where his son trained, and for a year Greg swam under the guidance of his father. In his early career up to the age of 12, Paltrinieri specialized in breaststroke, and when he started to grow – today he is 1.91m – he switched to freestyle.

In his spare time, Paltrinieri enjoys his play station and listening to music, but most of all he enjoys watching basketball. He is a New York Knicks fan and as a child he dreamed of becoming a star in the NBA. His role model in the world of swimming is Ian Thorpe, who he saw for the first time on TV at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where the king of freestyle won three golds and two silvers.

"We are very proud to have Gregorio become a part of Arena’s great family of athletes and federations. A young man with great athleticism whose daily work in the pool is his trump card,” said Enrico Maria Tricarico, CEO of Arena Italy. “We have decided to go with Greg until the 2016 Rio Olympics because we think he has four years of significant human and competitive development in front of him, and we want to be at his side during these important periods of his career."

"I'm really happy to have signed with Arena, which I consider the most prestigious brand in the world of swimming," said Gregorio. "Wearing the Powerskin CarbonPro (competition swimsuit) I have always felt comfortable, it feels really good. My favourite (colour) is red. Now that Arena has also become a partner of the Italian Swimming Federation I know I can compete with greater confidence, focusing on my goals for the race. I really hope to be able to give my best performance, not only for myself but also for the brand that is supporting me, especially at the Italian Spring Championships in Riccione, where I will try to do my best with the World Championships in Barcelona in mind, and to qualify for the 800m and 1500m freestyle."