LIVORNO, ITALY, April 13. WHAT'S a world record worth?
If you're an American and you set an individual mark at this year's Goodwill Games in Brisbane come September it's 50 big ones (dollars, that is, not Big Macs!).
And if you're Italian Olympic gold medalist Massi Rosolino it's 50 million lira (about $25K) if you swim it at the World Championships in Fukuoka this July, according to an interview with the Italian star in today's La Gazetta Dello Sport, the Italian sports daily.
Rosolino "cruised" to a world-leading 2:01.31 200 IM win today in the fifth day of th Italian Nationals-World Championship Trials here, a bit off his Sydney-winning time and pr-National Record 1:58.98. Still he ranks ahead of America's Tom Wilkens (2:01.51 from the U.S. Trials) and Australia's Grant McGregor's 2:01.58 from the Aussie Trials last month in Hobart — the second- and third-fastest yearly times.
Rosolino said his goal in Fukuoka is "nothing less" than Finland's Jani Sievinen's 1:58.16 global standard that he swam en route to the gold at the 1994 World Championships in Rome.
"I believe I definitely have a chance for the record but then perhaps so does Wilkens and maybe others," Rolsolino told La Gazetta correspondent Stefano Arcobelli. "I have at least two other races to swim in Japan [200-400 frees, where he was bronze and silver medalist at Sydney] so I'll have a very full program of events. Still, my training has been going well and I am looking forward to this summer."
In analyzing Rosolino's splits from Sydney vs. Sievienen's world record-setting swim it is apparent the Italian will have to go faster in his first two legs (fly, back) if he's to beome the first man under 1:58.0, which he says is his objective.
Sievinen was out in 26.17 on his 50 split while Massi went 26.59. Sievinen's back split was 30.41 compared to 30.77 for Rosolino, so at the halfway point the World Champ had touched in 56.61 to the Olympic Champ's 57.36 — a .76 differential.
On the breast leg Massi split 33.52 to Sievinen's 33.42, thus losing another tenth of a second after 150 meters (1:30.03-1:30.88). Coming home Rosolino splashed his final 50 in 28.10 compared to 28.13 for Sievinen, and there's the .82 the Italian has to find between now and July.
However, Rosolino has made some major drops in the last year so slashing a quarter-second off all four legs — while certainly a tall order — is not necessarily an unrealistic goal.
Before Sydney Massi's IM pr was a 2:00.62 which won him the gold at the European Championships in Helsinki last July. Prior to that, his pr was a 2:01.46, good for runner-up at the '99 European Championships in Istanbul. The winner — in 2:01.43 — was former Michigan All-America Marcel Wouda from the Netherlands, who also had won the title two years earlier at the '97 Euros in Seville (NR 2:00.77).
Citing knee and shoulder problems, Wouda retired after last summer's Euro Championships.
Rosolino also won last year's Euro 200 free title, defeating (of all people!) Olympic champ Pieter van den Hoogenband of Holland, 1:47.31-1:47.62. Hoogie had won the '99 title with a then pr of 1:47.09.
At Sydney, Rosolino went a 2:00.92 in the prelims, 2:01.14 in the semis and in the finals was nearly a second behind American Tom Dolan, the eventual silver medalist, at the halfway point (56.40-57.36). But a strong breaststroke leg (33.52 to Dolan's 34.77) gave the Italian star the lead at the 150 mark (1:30.88-1:31.17) and his final 50 (28.10 to Dolan's 28.62) gave him the gold and made him only the second man ever under 1:59.0.
Bottom line: the Italian star just didn't fall off the turnip truck. He's the real deal, attested to of course by his Olympic gold medal, and he's no slouch ether in the 200-400 frees.
However, Rosolino was at the center of a storm of controversy following his Sydney win. He (and other countrymen who competed at Sydney in a variety of sports) were accused by a doctor for the Italian Olympic team of having an abnormally high level of human growth hormone. He vehemently denied the accusations.
In any event, nothing has been formally proved, though the World Anti-Drug Agency (WADA) is investigating. The problem: there is no test that can distinguish endogenous (naturally produced) hGH from exogenous forms of the hormone.
Italy's double Olympic champion, Domenico Fioravanti won his second event of the meet, taking the 100 breast in 1:01.63 with a 1:01.02 in the semis — second-fastest globally behind America's Ed Moses' 1:00.29 world record from the US Trials.
Runner-up in the 200 IM was 400 IM national record-holder Alessio Boggiatto (pr 2:02.38), bettering his former career-best of 2:03.21 from last summer's Italian Championships.
In the 100 fly Cristian Galenda broke the oldest men's record on the books with his 53.99, a mark set 11 years ago.
Sprinter Lorenzo Vismara won the 100 in 49.24, a mere .01 off his NR set while leading off the sprint relay at Sydney. He also split a quick 48.64 anchoring his club's medley realy team.
On the women's side, sprinter Cecilia Vianini won her second gold of the meet, splashing to an easy 100 free win (56.26). She set the Italian record with her 55.96 relay leadoff at the Olympics.
Fabiana Susini won the 800 free (8:47.07); Roberta Crescenti the 100 breast (pr 1:10.09 and not far off the NR of 1:09.66 by long-retired Manuella Dalla Valle from the 1987 European Championships in Strasbourg); Cristina Maccagnola the 50 fly (NR 27.58); and Federica Biscia the 200 IM (2:18.63). She earlier had won the 400 IM.
The meet continues in the indoor Giudici Baldacci e Dolfini 50 meter pool through Sunday.