By Josh Jeffrey
RAVENNA, Italy, April 17. ITALY held its national championships, which doubled as the World Championship Trials, earlier this month in Ravenna, near Bologna on the Adriatic coast.
Overall, performances were fairly lackluster, but as always, there were a few notable standouts. In order to qualify for Worlds, the Italian Swimming Federation set rigorous qualifying standards. Swimmers were required to meet or beat the 20th fastest time in the world last year in their event, no easy feat for Italian women particularly, who only had one swimmer ranked in the top 20 in any long course event last year.
The brightest new star in Italian swimming is Francesca Segat, who blasted to two national records in both the 100 and 200 meter flys. Her time of 59.56 in the 100 fly destroyed the former record set by Sara Parise last year (1:00.11). She also notched another record in the 200 fly with her 2:10.34.
Segat's time would have been the highest-ranking Italian female last year at 10th place. As a result of the time requirements, Segat was the only female to qualify for Worlds.
Italy carried its fine tradition of 200m freestylers begun by former world record holder Giorgio Lamberti, in qualifying four men for Worlds. The event winner was Emiliano Brembilla, who wasn't at his best in Ravenna as a result of a flu he caught while there. Nevertheless, he was swift in winning at 1:47.47. Second place Federico Cappellazzo also qualified at 1:48.56. Third place went to Matteo Pelliciari (1:49.15), who earned a spot on the relay along with Massi Rosolino (1:49.19), who qualified for Worlds with his times earlier this year at the Australian Nationals. Italians have always been strong in this event, and you can be sure that with tradition on their side, their 800 free relay will be an imposing presence in Barcelona.
Individual medley events are also a bright spot for Italian men, as World champion 400 IMer Alessio Boggiatto won his specialties handily in taking the 200 medley (2:01.33) and 400 medley (4:15.91). In the shorter event, Massi Rosolino qualified at Sydney with a very quick 1:59.71. He'll also join Boggiato in the 400 IM after posting a time of 4:17.60 to earn the second berth in that event.
In a bit of a shocker, national team fixture Emanuele Merisi missed qualifying in the 200 backstroke, his pet event. Barcelona would be his fourth World Championships. Presumably, due to the low number of qualifiers, it's possible that Italy will allow swimmers to use times from additional meets to qualify, so Merisi may have another chance.
In addition to Rosolino, Italian breaststroker Alessandro Terrin qualified for Worlds at a non-domestic meet, hitting the target in the 50 breaststroke at the Five Nations Swim Cup in Metz, France with his time of 27.97.
Interestingly enough, double Olympic breaststroke champion Domenico Fioravanti was nowhere to be found at Nationals, and Davide Rummolo, bronze medalist at Sydney in the 200 breaststroke, won the event in a disappointing 2:15.06, well off the mark for Barcelona.
Complete results can be found at: http://www.ficr.it/risultati/NU/NAZ/Ravenna0204200301/index.html