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International Review: Fast Times in Italy, Austria, Canada -- August 13, 2001

AUG. 13. ALESSIO Boggiatto was in a quandry.

The Italian medley specialist, who struck gold in the 400 IM at last month's World Championships in Fukuoka for his first major international title, so loved his precious bauble he decided he needed a matching medal.

But where to get it? The next World Championships aren't for another couple of years in Moscow, and the next European Championships aren't until next summer in Berlin.

Oh, sure, there's the Goodwill Games next month in Brisbane, but that would mean he's made three trips to Asia and/or the Pacific Rim in less than a year (the Sydney Olympics last September, the World Championships in July). Why go halfway 'round the world again when (presumably) the top swimmers in
the world won't be there?

What's a fella to do?

Not to worry.

The Italian Nationals were scheduled for the first weekend of this month in Genoa, site of last month's ever so successful G-8 Summit. After getting his picture on the front page of the Italian sports daily La Gazetta Dello Sport the Monday after his gold-medal swim on the World Championship's final
day, and after a brief stopover in Rome to visit with Italian President Silvio Berlusconi (along with teammate Massi Rosolino, 200 IM champ), Boggiatti hied himself to Genoa, where he won the 200 IM in a modest 2:03.35 - his only swim of the meet.

His seasonal-best and pr is 2:00.49 from the semis at Fukuoka, which ranks him third globally behind World Champ Rosolino and runner-up American Tom Wilkens.

In the 400 IM, Boggiatto is No. 1 off his Fukuoka-winning and national-record 4:13.15. That swim also ranks him fifth on the all-time performances' list, third performer behind America's world record-holder and double Olympic gold medalist, Tom Dolan; and Hungary's Tamas Darnyi, who won golds at the 1986 and '91 World Championships in Seville and Perth, not to mention Olympic golds in Seoul and Barcelona.

(And had Hungary not boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics...)

The Italian Championships were one of several European and Canadian meets held post-Fukuoka and while - not surprisingly - there were few record-breaking performances, several swimmers turned in fine efforts,
including athletes from Austria, Italy and Canada.

In the Italian meet, the sole men's record went to flyer Mattia Nalesso, who went a pr 53.77 to break the old Italian standard of 53.99 by Cristian Galenda from the World Championship Trials last April.

That time ranks Nalesso 24th globally, a nice drop from his old pr of 55.11 from last year, which ranked him 111th.

Galenda was a World Championship semi-finalist in the 200 fly, racing to an NR 1:58.20 to finish 11th, and ranks 12th in the world. He also swam at Genoa, winning in 1:58.68.

While double Olympic gold medalist Domenico Fioravanti was absent from the proceedings, Italy showed off a promising new breaststroker to the international scene in the person of Michele Vancini (1:02.45-2:14.79). The 20-year-old had previous prs of 1:03.06-2:16.12, both swum at the Seven Hills Invitational in Rome early last June.

On the women's side, 25-year-old sprinter Cecilia Vianini showed she's not quite ready for a life of leisure outside the pool as she set a national
record in the 100 free (55.07) and splashed to prs in the 50 (26.03) and 200 frees (2:00.60).

That 55.07 ranks her fourth behind World Champ Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands, Germany's Sandra Volker and Chinas Yanwei Xu, and tied with Germany's Katrin Meissner - rather exalted company considering no Italian woman has been so highly ranked in any freestyle event in more than two decades.

In the breaststrokes an interesting name surfaced in third in the 100 and first in the 200, i.e., Chiara Boggiatto, the 15-year-old "kid" sister of Alessio.
Chiara went prs of 1:12.75-2:31.91, and rumor on the deck has it that they're looking for a showdown - either at Moscow or Athens - with the Kellers, Klete and Kalyn.

The sole women's record to fall was in the 400 IM, where Federica Biscia went 4:46.33 to break her old mark of 4:47+.

* * * * *

At the Austrian Championships in Schwechat Aug. 2-5, World Championship team members Mirna Jukic and Markus Rogan, a Stanford sophomore and 200 back World Championship silver medalist, were the big winners. The former set a pr-NR in the 200 breast and Rogan splashed to a national standard in the 200 free.

Jukic was a finalist in the 200 breast at Fukuoka (pr-NR 2:27.96), and sliced that time to 2:27.54 here. She might well have been faster had she been at all pressed. The second-place finisher, Elvira Fischer, who spent last season with Coach Paul Nelsen's Nebraska Cornhuskers, was a distant second in 2:40+.

Jukic swept all three breaststroke races at the European Junior Championships at Malta in July, and was her country's sole female World Championship finalist in any event. At 15 she's well on her way to breaking into the global breaststroke elite, and will likely be a medal contender at next year's European Championships.

She also won the 100 breast (1:10.63), was runner-up in the 50 to Vera Lischke (32.10-32.61) and took the 400 IM (pr 5:01.63).

Rogan, who went a pr-NR 55.08 in the 100 back at Fukuoka prelims and ranks eighth globally, won both IMs, the 200 free and all three back races in 2:05.25 - 4:29.42, 1:52.01, 26.73 - 58.52 - 2:04.68.

His 200 IM clocking just missed the Austrian record of 2:05.15 by former Cornhusker All-America Michael Windisch from the Sydney prelims; and his 400
IM clocking was some seven seconds off Windisch's NR 4:22.94 from last spring's U.S. Nationals in Federal Way.

Rogan's NR and medal-winning time in Japan, 1:58.07, ranks the Cardinal NCAA 200 back runner-up second globally. Austria also has a No. 3 swimmer in the person of breaststroker Maxim Podoprigoda, who finished second to America's (and Texas') Brendan Hansen at Fukuoka in the 200 breast.

Podoprigoda won the 200 here in a modest 2:14.08 compared to hs NR 2:11.09 at Fukuoka, and also was runner-up in the 100 (1:02.73) to countryman Patrick Schmollinger, who set NRs in the 50 (28.42) and 100 breaststrokes (1:02.04). The old 100 standard was 1:02.21 by Schmollinger from the Sydney semis.

The European record in the 200 breast is Fioravanti's 2:10.87 that won him the gold at Sydney - fifth-performance, fourth-performer all-time. Podoprigoda's 2:11.09 ranks him sixth and fifth all-time, second on both lists all-time Europe.

Not bad for a guy who was 20th globally last year with a pr of 2:14.20, down from 2:18+ the year before, and who had never before made a major international final.

* * * * *

In Toronto last weekend at the Canadian Championships, Curtis Myden went his seasonal pr in the 200 IM (2:01.67), a race he has owned since prior to Atlanta. His career-best is 2:00.38 from the Goodwill Games at East Meadow three years ago, a time that's a tenth off now-retired Australian Matthew Dunn's Commonwealth record 2:00.26 from the Commonwealth Games that year in Kuala Lumpur. Myden ranks eighth globally for the season and if, as expected, he swims for Canada at Brisbane (Goodwill Games) he could end
up considerably higher.

Other times of note included former University of Miami star Rhiannon Leier's 1:09.82 100 breast, Morgan Knabe's 1:02.31 100 breast (far from his Commonwealth Record 1:01.25 from Fukuoka), and Rick Say's 1:49.60 200 free (a second off his NR 1:48.50 from last year's Olympic Trials). Say also won golds in the 100 (pr 50.85), 400 (3:54.88) and 800 frees, plus he anchored a pair of national record-setting relays in Japan.

In the 200 breast Mike Brown upset defending champ Knabe, clocking a pr 2:16.16 for his initial national championship. Brown was third at halfway mark but raced to the fore at the 150 mark and was never headed. Knabe was second in 2:16.46.

Christin Petelski, an Atlanta finalist, defended her 200 breast title with a 2:31.88-2:32.66 win over Leier, and veteran medleyist Marianne Limpert won
the 200 in a seasonal-best 2:15.78. She holds the Commonwealth record (2:13.44) that got her fourth at Sydney.

Runner-up was newcomer Liz Warden, who went a pr 2:16.93. She also won her first national title with a victory in the 200 back (2:14.02), and ranks 23rd globally.

The only national record came in the men's 50 back, where Riley Janes, a stellar performer for Coach Mel Nash's Texas A&M Aggies, went 25.79 to break the old standard of 25.81 by Chris Renaud from the Pan-Ams in
Winnipeg two years ago.

-- Bill Bell