Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri celebrates winning in the men's 1500m freestyle final of the 32nd LEN European Swimming Championships on August 20, 2014 in BerlinItaly's Gregorio Paltrinieri celebrates winning in the men's 1500m freestyle final of the 32nd LEN European Swimming Championships on August 20, 2014 in Berlin (AFP Photo/John MacDougall)
Berlin (AFP) - Italian teenager Gregorio Paltrinieri smashed the European 1500m freestyle record while Hungarian Laszlo Cseh confirmed his place as the king of European medley at the European Championships in Berlin on Wednesday.
Paltrinieri was in a realm of his own as he touched in 14 minutes 39.93 seconds to slice almost three seconds off Yuri Prilukov's 2008 mark.
Cseh, a five time Olympic minor medalist including three silvers at the 2008 Games, secured his fifth consecutive 200m individual medley title.
Sweden's Sarah Sjostroem won her third gold of the European Championships with victory in the 100m freestyle.
Velimir Stjepanovic won his second title of the championships when he added the 200m freestyle title to 400m gold and Rikke Moeller Pedersen won a 100m breaststroke notable for the absence of Olympic gold and bronze medallists Ruta Meilutyte and Yuliya Efimova.
Paltirinieri got the session off to a flying start. The 19-year-old's only challenger was the clock and his time cut 3.28secs from Prilukov's record, set in the time of performance-enhancing suits.
Pal Joensen of the Faroe Islands was second, 10.66secs adrift with Paltrinieri's fellow Italian Gabriele Detti in third.
Paltrinieri said swimming for so long on his own had been a challenge.
"I am very happy to have won this race. It was difficult to swim alone but I decided before to avoid some competitions to put my full concentration on this.
"I expected and hoped to get the record since I was very young. The time is a good time."
He is the first European to have dipped under the 14:40-mark and although he is still almost nine seconds off Sun Yang's world record, the Italian does not believe it is out of his reach.
"It feels very close to Sun Yang: I have to reach 14:31.This race was preparation on the road to Rio where I want to beat him."
Cseh won his first 200m title in 2006 in Budapest, a year after World Championship silver in Montreal and the 28-year-old has been without parallel in Europe ever since.
However, Wednesday's final was a tight tussle as he had to come from behind with Germany’s Markus Diebler ahead at the final turn.
Cseh called on all his experience to claw his way to victory by 0.07 from Philip Heintz of Germany in 1:58.17 with Great Britain’s Rob Pavoni third.
Stjepanovic claimed the 200m freestyle title by just 0.02secs from world record holder Paul Biedermann in 1:45.78. Olympic and world champion Yannick Agnel, less than convincing in Berlin, finished third.
Sjostroem added the 100m freestyle title to the golds she won in the 50m butterfly and 4x100m freestyle relay with Sweden.
The 21-year-old set a new championship record of 52.67 en-route to victory, the fastest time in the world this year.
Pedersen won the 100m breaststroke in 1:06.23 – a championship record but Olympic gold and bronze medallists Meilutyte and Efimova were conspicuous by their absences.
World record holder Meilutyte is at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing – although she will fly to Berlin for the 50m heats on Saturday – while Efimova is serving a 16-month doping ban.
Katinka Hosszu set a championship record of 2:08.41 in the 200m individual medley semi-finals, Great Britain's Ross Murdoch heads the 200m breaststroke and Viktor Bromer of Denmark leads the way into the 200m butterfly final.
Mie Nielsen leads the way in the 100m backstroke with Vladimir Morozov heading the 50m backstroke semi-finals.