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Rival avoids Sun treatment from Horton

AAP logoAAP 5/11/2016 Laine Clark

Not at all rivals get the Sun Yang treatment from Olympic swimming champion Mack Horton - just ask Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri.

Horton caused a stir by dismissing China's Sun as a "drug cheat" before claiming 400m freestyle gold at Rio.

But he only has love for his 1500m freestyle conqueror Paltrinieri.

So much so that when Horton went on his post-Rio holiday in Europe with his girlfriend, he invited the Italian star to join them.

Clearly there were no hard feelings after Paltrinieri denied Horton the chance to become the first Australian to claim the Olympic 400m-1500m double since 1956, relegating him to fifth in the long distance final in Brazil.

Paltrinieri may have avoided Sun's fate, but the first Italian to claim Olympic 1500m gold still couldn't avoid competition with Horton while on holiday.

"There was a bit of banter about who got recognised more in Italy," Horton told AAP.

"In the touristy areas I got recognised more, mostly by Aussies, and no one would know who he was.

"When we were in proper Italian areas he was like a god, everyone loved him."

Horton has credited the five-week break with recharging the batteries for this week's national short course titles in Brisbane.

The 20-year-old does not expect to make the national team for December's world short course titles in Windsor, Canada after barely three weeks back in the pool.

But he does believe the rare break with his Italian chum has prepared him for the long road to Tokyo 2020.

"I am pretty relaxed really," he said.

"We are just trying to take it slow.

"There's four years until the next Olympics and it would be exhausting to maintain that intensity all the time.

"For the last 10 years I have been having two weeks off a year so it was good to have that break.

"I am looking forward to what the future holds."

The three-day national short course titles conclude on Saturday night.

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