By Bill Bell
BESCIA, Italy, May 3. THE weather is beginning to warm-up on the Continent, but with just under three months before this summer's European Championships in Berlin, Italy's top swimmers were positively smokin'!
At the Italian Nationals/European Championships Trials in Brescia, April 17-21, Olympic and World Champions Massi Rosolino and Alessio Boggiatto showed they're rounding into form with world-leading swims inthe 200-400 IMs.
Rosolino won the 200 in 2:00.50, fastest globally, while Boggiatto was second in 2:00.74 — No. 2 globally and not far off his pr 2:00.49 from the Fukuoka semis. In the 400 IM, Boggiatto won in 4:16.20, again fastest in the world for '02.
Rosolino was Olympic gold medalist at Sydney in the shorter IM (NR 1:58.98, an Olympic record) and ranks third on the all-time world performances' list, second performer. He won at Fukuoka with a 1:59.71 and coupled with Boggiatto's 400 IM title there, it marked the first time in history that Italians won the top spot in those two races at a World Championships.
(Of course, the double-defending Olympic and World Champ/world record-holder was not at Japan last summer but…)
Rosolino's goal this summer at Berlin will be Finland's Jani Sievinen's 1:58.16 200 IM world record from the '94 World Championships in Rome, when the Italian star was all of 16 years old. He'd also like to take a crack at Ian Thorpe's world-record in the 200 free (1:44.06) but he's got a ways to go here as his pr's "only" a 1:46.60 and a Mr. van den Hoogenband is making noises about a 1:43+ in Berlin.
Former European 1500 free champ Emiliano Brembilla won the 200 free (pr 1:47.36) and ranks fourth on the yearly lisr behind Thorpedo's 1:45.09, Aussie Grant Hackett's 1:46.68 and Hoogie's 1:46.78. Not bad company, that trio. Rosolino touched in 1:48.57 with Matteo Pelliciari going a pr 1:48.61. If the Italians can come up with a good fourth 200 freestyler, they could have a potential gold medal-winning 800 free team at Berlin.
Brembilla also won golds in the 400 (3:48.39) and 1500 frees (15:09.37). His prs are 3:45.11 from Fukuoka and 14:58.65, which won him the gold at the '97 Euros in Seville. He ranks fourth on the all-time European performers' list (No. 2 among active swimmers behind only Russia's Alexei Filipets' 14:56.88 NR from Sydney).
Rosolino was runner-up in the 400 (3:50.34). His pr-NR and Continental standard is 3:43.40 from Sydney, good for the silver behind Thorpe and history's ninth-fastest time (third performer).
Rosolino is unique among world-class competitors who are great middle distance freestylers as he's also a world-class IMer. Thorpe has begun swimming a bit of backsstroke as a diversion but focuses on the 200-400
frees (lately the 100 too). Hoogie specializes in the 100-200 frees, where he's reigning Olympic champ and 100 wr-holder. He has begun doing the 400 free and at last month's Dutch Nationals went an NR 3:47.20 — third globally.
America's Don Schollander was the first to set world records in the 200-400 frees, doing so 38 years ago. Then Russia's Evgeniy Sadoviy (Barcelona) and New Zealand's Danyon Loader (Atlanta) did it in back-to-back Olympiads, but again they were pure freestylers and didn't have Rosolino's golden medley touch.
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Thirty-one year-old Luis Laera won the 50-100 backs (26.37-55.83) while 30-year-old Emanuelle Merisi won the 200 (1:59.23).
In the breaststrokes, Olympic 100-200 champ Domenico Fioravanti only swam in the 50 and went a 28.08 (American Ed Moses' world-record is 27.39 by comparison). In the 100 Michele Viancini went a 1:02.96 for the top spot and in the 200, Sydney silver medalist Davide Rommulo won in 2:11.98 with Viancini second (2:14.51).
In the flys, Christian Galenda went a 100 NR 53.72, breaking the old mark of 53.77 by Matteo Nalesso from last year's summer nationals in Genoa. Galenda's old pr was a 53.99, which had also been the old NR, from last spring's World Championship Trials.
He also won the 50 fly (25.91) and was second to Massi Eroli in the 200 fly (1:59.91-1:59.98). Galenda holds the Italian record in this race too, a 1:58.20 from the Fukuoka semis (he failed to final).
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On the distaff side, Christina Chiuoso and Cecilia Vianni traded wins in the 50-100 frees, the former taking the 50 (NR 25.57) and the latter the 100 (56.15). Luisa Striani tied with Vianni for the 100 title but both were far off Ms. V's NR of 55.07 from Genoa last August. Striani's pr is 56.07.
In the 100 fly, Sarah Parise knocked off four tenths of a second from the old NR of 1:00.56 with her 1:00.11, and in the 200 it was Francesca Segat
winning with a 2:12.25.
In the 100 breast, Sara Farini wpn the gold (1:11.26) and in the 200 it was World Champion Boggiatto's sister, 16-year-old Chiara, winning in 2:30.02. That time is her pr by nearly a second, her former best was 2:31.00, which she did at last September's Mediterranean Games in Tunis, Tunisia. The Italian record is 2:28.64.
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While her times were not spectacular, former Southern Methodist All-America and NCAA champ Mette Jacobsen of Denmark showed she'll be a factor at the European Championships in the 200-400 frees and the 200 fly with a nice showing at the Sjelland Open in Greve, April 12-14.
The 29-year-old ex-Mustang won the 200 free (2:01.37) and both flys (1:02.10/2:13.34). The great Dane's 200 free NR is 1:59.64 from the Fukuoka finals, and in the flys her standards are 59.43/2:08.11. That latter swim, at the Y2K European Championships in Helsinki, ranks her as 11th-fastest performer all-time.
On the men's side, Dane Jacob Carstensen went 1:50.33 to win the 200 free, and NRs 2:04.92-4:20.96 to take golds in the medleys. Germany's Heiko Hell went a fast early-season 15:14.28 in the mile plus a 3:58.59 in the 400 free, and Portugal unveiled a promising new butterfly talent in 20-year-old Ricardo Coxo, who set NRs en route to wins in the 50 (24.64) and 100 (54.44).
World Champ silver medalist (200 back) Orn Arnarson of Iceland, who was expected to bolster USC's dorsal corps last season but never made it over, won the 50 and 200 (28.32/2:01.43) and was second to Carstensen in the 100, with both going sub 56.0s.
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The Hungarians held the Grand Prix of Budapest the same weekend as women's NCAAs (March 23-24) and some of the better results included a 22.78-49.94 sprint double by Attila Zubor, Peter Horvath's and Viktor Bodgori's 55.48-1:59.88 backstroke wins, and 34-year-old Karoly Guttler's 28.86-1:02.21 breaststroke victories.
Guttler has said he intends to continue competing until at least Beijing.
Twelve year-old Dani Gyurta wsent 2;18.02 in the 200m breaststroke.
Spain has yet to hold its EC Trials, and Germany's is coming up the last week of this month. Then the Mare Nostrum Series, encompassing invitationals in Barcelona, Canet, Monte Carlo and Rome, will begin in late May, then in July there'll be the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and the ECs in Berlin — followed by the Pan-Pacs the following month.
The Cadillac Grand Prix Series in the United States, opening at Ann Arbor in a couple of weeks and going through the Janet Evans Invitational in Los Angeles (mid-July), will feature many of the leading American stars in a run-up to the Nationals at Ft. Lauderdale.