ROME, June 13. A WORLD-leading 400 IM clocking by 2001 World Champion Alessio Boggiatto — which is also an Italian record and the third-fastest ever by a European — highlighted today's final session of the 42nd Settecolli (Seven Hills) Mare Nostrum Meeting.
Boggiatto's record-breaking performance of 4:12.51 was a fitting climax to the conclusion of the four-meet series that began last weekend in Monte Carlo and had stops in Canet and Barcelona before finishing here.
Boggiatto's time was some eight seconds faster than Japan's runner-up Susume Tabuchi's 4:20.54. Boggiatto's old Italian record was 4:13.15, his gold-medal winning swim at the Fukuoka World Championships three years ago. He also won the Euro title the next year at Berlin in 4:13.19.
The Italian medley specialist was runner-up in the 200 IM to Hungary's Laszlo Cseh, 2:00.99-2:01.03.
The previous yearly 400 IM best had been 4:12.86 by Cseh, which won the European Championship title last month in Madrid. In that race Boggiatto's teammate Luca Marin took the silver (4:14.31) with the defending champ picking up the bronze (4:14.32).
On the all-time world list Boggiatto now becomes the sixth-fastest perormer wwith the 10th-fastest performance. On the European list he's three/three with only Cseh (Euro record 4:10.79 for silver at last summer's Worlds in Barcelona) and Hungary's Tamas Darnyi (4:12.36) having gone faster.
The latter's time won Darnyi gold at the '91 World Championships in Perth, replicating the placing he had earned at the previous Worlds in Barcelona. The Hungarian great went on to win both IMs at the Olympics in Spain the following year. Darnyi also won both IMs at the Seoul Olympics in '88 and is the only swimmer of either sex to win both back-to-back.
American Michael Phelps has the two fastest 400 IM clockings of all-time, 4:09.09 to win at Barcelona last year and 4:10.73 in a dual-meet against Australia that previous April. Cseh's 4:10.79 is third-fastest performance.
Phelps hasn't swum a competitive 400 IM so far this year (his best is 4:14.98 from the Santa Clara Invitational a month ago where he almost pulled a "Thorpe," almost slippimng off the blocks!). He leads the world rankings in the 200 IM with his 1:56.80 from the U.S. Nationals at Orlando in February, history's third-fastest performance. Phelps has the others too: his WR 1:55.94 from last summer's U.S. Nationals in College Park and his 1:56.04 that won him gold at Barcelona.
Boggiatto was by no means the whole story in Rome, which produced the fastest timess of the four-meet Mare Nostrum tour.
On the first day of the meet,Japan's Ai Shibata overtook her teammate, Sachiko Yamada, with 200 meters to go to take the 800 free in a PR 8:27.37, with Yamada less than a stroke behind at 8:27.72. Yamada got her revenge the next day, whipping shibata into fourth place in the 400 free with a tight but decisive victory in 4:08.18, taking the measure of Romania's Camelia Potec (4:09.34) and Costa Rica's Claudia Poll (4:09.82) to the wall.
Britain's Melanie Marshall, ranked #1 in the world in the 200 free at 1:57.51, also spanked POtec and Poll, reversing the results in this same race in Barcelona three days earlier. In a very fast, close race, Marshall, who trailed at the 100, took the lead on the third lap and touched home in 1:58.53. Potec was right behind her at 1:58.90 with 1996 Olympic champion Poll, 32, third in 1:59.01.
In the meet's biggest upset, double world record-holder and double world champion Kosuke Kitajima of Japan was beaten to the wall. Twice.
On the first day, 18 year-old Paolo Bossini, swimming in an outside lane, sprinted past the faltering Kitajima on the final lap to take the 200 breast in a PR 2:11.90 to the champ's 2:11.95. The next day, in a very close 100 meter race that saw the top seven finishers separated by only a second, it was Ukraine's Oleg Lisogor who got his hands on the pads first, in 1:01.13. Britain's James Gibson, who led most of the way, was second in 1:01.34 with Kitajima third in 1:01.47.
In other highlights;
* Romania's Razvan Florea continued to swim consistently well, winning the 200m back in 1:58.26;
* World record-holder Yana Klochkova of Ukraine took the 200 IM in 2:13.29; and
* Japan's Reiko Nakamura won the women's 200m back in 2:10.09.