By John Lohn
PHILADELPHIA, Penn., USA, June 30. FOR good reason, much of the discussion heading into the World Championships has centered on the United States and Australia, the globe’s power nations in our sport. After all, the Americans and Aussies combined for 43 medals at last summer’s Olympics and 50 podium finishes at the World Championships in Barcelona in 2003.
So, somewhat lost in the mix has been Italy, capable of making a strong showing in Montreal. On both the male and female sides, Italy has packaged a stellar season, reflected by a handful of world-leading times and numerous rankings in the top 10 in the world. Here’s a look at the Italians capable of making noise at next month’s World Champs.
Federica Pellegrini: Perhaps the best shot to capture gold for the Italian contingent, Pellegrini holds the fastest time in the world this year in the 200 freestyle (1:57.92). Pellegrini should feel confident, considering she won silver in Athens and that the 200 free does not feature an overwhelming favorite. Pellegrini, too, is ranked fifth in the world in the 100 free (54.55) and eighth in the 400 free (4:10.38).
Massi Rosolino: At the Sydney Olympics, Rosolino won three individual medals. Well, he could be on the verge of replicating a showing of that ilk, as he has managed a quality six-month stretch. Aside from sitting second in the world in the 800 freestyle (7:50.40), Rosolino is fourth in the 400 free (3:47.80) and sixth in the 200 free (1:48.21).
Emiliano Brembilla: Like Rosolino, Brembilla is capable of creating a buzz in the distance events, as he’s currently ranked second in the world in the 400 free, behind a 3:46.89 clocking. That time should keep Brembilla in the vicinity of Michael Phelps and Grant Hackett. In addition to the 400 free, Brembilla is ranked fourth in the 800 free (7:55.17).
Alessio Boggiatto: At the Athens Olympics, Boggiatto just missed a medal in the 400 individual medley, finishing fourth. He’ll be looking to improve on that result. Although Laszlo Cseh is the heavy favorite, the fight for silver and bronze is wide open. Boggiatto has the world’s second-fastest time of the year at 4:14.78. As for the 200 I.M., Boggiatto is rated fifth in the world at 2:00.68.
Filippo Magnini: Ranked first in the world in the 100 freestyle, thanks to a mark of 48.74, Magnini is capable of earning a medal, although he’s going to tackle with the likes of Roland Schoeman (South Africa), Michael Phelps and Jason Lezak. Aside from his individual endeavors, Magnini will play a key role in Italy’s relay hopes, which stand as strong in the freestyle events.
The Others: The Italians have a good chance of securing at least one medal in the breaststroke disciplines, due to quality depth. Alessandro Terrin is rated third in the world in the 50 breast (27.80) and sits fifth in the 100 distance (1:01.35). Meanwhile, Paolo Bossini (2:12.41) and Loris Facci (2:12.80) could make a play for minor medals in the 200 breaststroke.
For the women, Chiara Boggiatto has the world’s third-fastest time in the 200 breast (2:27.12), but will likely have to drop that time to at least the 2:26-range for a medal. In Caterina Giacchetti, Italy features the fourth-ranked female in the 200 butterfly (2:08.83). With the wide-open nature of that event, there’s no reason to discount Giacchetti from the medal picture.