Thursday, March 12, 2009

Defending the Home Surf

One of the best national open water teams in the world is Italy. Italy has a great mix of proven veterans like Valerio Cleri and strong up-and-comers like Rachele Bruni (shown on left) who compete under the guidance of national team coach Massimo Giuliani.

Over the year, many of Italy's best open water swimmers have grown up swimming along the shorelines of their country, including Marco Formentini. After the 2001 World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka where he medaled, Japan, Marco said, "We knew we had an edge racing in the sea rather than in a river or a lake".

His teammate Luca Baldini added, "The sea was a bit rough; under those conditions I knew that I would have to get away very fast and be in the lead. Those behind you catch more waves."

One of the great female Italian swimmers of the past was Viola Valli (shown on left after winning the world 25K race) who often went all out from the start and held on for the finish. "I've told myself: 'I have to bring them (her opponents) to hell and leave them there.' I knew I should swim at a pace they couldn't keep up. I was succesful although I happened to nearly go to hell myself."

At the upcoming World Swimming Championships in Rome, the Italians will be competing on their home surf. Like the tough Russian Open Water National Championships in the Black Sea in June, Italy will also hold very competition World Swimming Championships qualification races in June.

The winners of the 5K, 10K and 25K races will automatically qualify for the Italian team while a second swimmer for each event will be selected by Coach Giuliani with the advice of the national technical staff.

The Italian national championships and world championship qualification races include the 5K race in Piombino on June 7th, the 10K race in Lerici on June 2nd and the 25K race in Formia on June 14th. The Italians also hold additional national championships including the 3-5K race in Milan on June 21 and the individual 5K time trial in Trasimeno Lake on June 28th.

Photos of the Italian team from the 2008 European Open Water Swimming Championships by Giorgio Scala.

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