It was the year of blue swimming without ifs and buts what is close to closure. The team led by the Technical Director, Cesare Butiniin a very particular and busy season he did hoard of medalsconcluding in third position in the medal tables of the world championships (long and short course) scheduled in Budapest (Hungary) and Melbourne (Australia) and literally dominating the edition of the European Championships in Rome.
Let’s talk about best team ever that the Bel Paese has had in the pool. If it is true that in 2000 in Sydney the Olympic medals of Domenico Fioravanti and Max Rosolino had shaken everyone and the feats of Federica Pellegrini in the following years turned the spotlight on this practice even more, in this case we are talking about a large group of athletes who aspires to the best possible without fear.
There was probably a click after the Rio 2016 Olympics when again in the Brazilian Games the number of counter-performances had been much higher than that of positive feedback. In fact, 83% of Italian athletes in the pool had worsened their enrollment time. And the reasons? Butini was very direct and honest: “I think we arrived here with athletes who feel second-class and I’m sorry, because we have nothing to envy compared to the others, neither as athletes nor as a team. We have a Federation that supports us, we have companies that are very committed and share important projects with the Federation. From the point of view of preparation everyone has given their best, we mustn’t crucify ourselves, but we must understand well what doesn’t work from the point of view of the approach. Unlike European and World Cups, you have to enter here thinking that the first race is that of life. The Americans approach the whole year in a different way, they play the World Cup the year before in a more relaxed way in view of the Olympics. Our athletes, on the other hand, seem to feel a little inadequate, but it’s quite the opposite. We need to start learning that the race is a fundamental thing, that it must be managed correctly, with the right pressure, without having reverential fears“, the words of Butini (source: Gazzetta dello Sport).
Here it is from that moment Something is changed. But what were the secrets of this change of score? We show them schematically:
THE SECRETS OF ITALSWIMMING
– Swimmers have taken part with increasing continuity in non-European and World events to get used to competing against the best and not feeling “inadequate” in the most important moment.
– The investment was also made to make the technicians more and more prepared with respect to the evolution of swimming, which goes very quickly.
– A parallel path with better interaction between the various federal centers that have expanded to an increasingly national context.
THE GROWTH OF ITALNUOTO
WORLD CUP BUDAPEST 2017
3 golds and 3 bronzes (three golds had been won only in Rome 2009 and six podiums in three other circumstances, but never with three affirmations)
GLASGOW EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS 2018
6 golds, 5 silvers and 11 bronzes (improving the record of Debrecen 2012 in the number of podiums, i.e. 22 compared to 18 in the Hungarian event)
GWANGJU WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2019
3 golds, 2 silvers and 3 bronzes (improved podium finish)
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP BUDAPEST 2021
5 golds, 9 silvers, 13 bronzes (improved Glasgow 2018 podium record)
WORLD CUP BUDAPEST 2022
5 golds, 2 silvers, 2 bronzes (improved the primacy of both golds and medals)
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP ROME 2022
13 golds, 13 silvers and 9 bronzes (improved the primacy of both golds and medals)
WINDSOR WORLD CUP 2016
1 gold, 4 silver, 2 bronze (second best performance ever for medals obtained)
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP COPENHAGEN 2017
5 golds, 7 silvers, 5 bronzes (absolute record of medals, improving the record of Eindhoven 2010)
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS HANGZHOU 2018
0 golds, 3 silvers, 4 bronzes (second best performance ever for medals obtained)
GLASGOW EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP 2019
6 golds, 7 silvers, 7 bronzes (absolute record of medals, improving the record of Copenhagen 2017)
KAZAN EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP 2021
7 golds, 18 silvers, 10 bronzes (all-time record for medals, improving on Glasgow 2019 record)
WORLD CUP ABU DHABI 2021
5 golds, 5 silvers, 6 bronzes (absolute record of medals, improving the record of Shanghai 2006)
MELBOUNE WORLD CUP 2022
5 golds, 6 silvers, 5 bronzes (equaled Abu Dhabi record)
To these numbers must be added the seven podiums of the Tokyo Olympics (2 silver, 5 bronze), also considering the open waters. Certainly no gold, but at the same time we had gone to medals in specialties very far from our traditions with prospective athletes. In all of this, the spearhead of the expedition, Gregorio Paltrinieri, had not reached the best of his conditions due to a mononucleosis which had made him doubt his participation. Incredibly, Greg won a silver in the 800m freestyle, nothing short of Bobby Finke’s gold, and was tinged with bronze in the 10km.
THE DANGER OF THE ENERGY CRISIS
However, there is a critical point and it concerns the issue of the “energy crisis”, as stated by Butini on the eve of the Melbourne world championship: “Paltrinieri, Ceccon, Martinenghi, Pilato and the other Azzurri champions would not exist without the work of the clubs and sports associations in the area: from the search for promising youngsters to their training up to high-level training. They too were children accompanied to the swimming pool by family members to learn to swim; only then did they become champions. If families had found the swimming pools closed and had diverted interest to other sports all their medals and achievements that we proudly share would not exist. This is the real problem: the serious economic suffering that is reflected in the activities of plant managers due to energy price increases with quadrupled costs. Moreover, these further increases follow the measures to contain the pandemic, which had already caused enormous inconvenience. Many swimming pools are temporarily closing to get through the winter, if not at a later date. Aid from the state and local authorities is not enough. The top athletes are protected by the federation and by the clubs who still manage to finance themselves with enormous efforts, but they are less and less and the coldest months of the year have now arrived. There are young athletes who are forced to train with water that is not heated enough or have to move to other facilities or even stay at home. We are losing future generations, we are risking interrupting the virtuous cyclical nature that guarantees Italy of swimming to remain the leader of the international movement, but above all we are risking having in a peninsular country with 8,000 kilometers of coastline fewer people who know how to swim and who carry out activities physical, in short, less well-being. The present is at risk. The future is very uncertain“.
As announced in the previous days, the Board of Directors of Sport and Health has approved the distribution of ordinary public contributions to sports bodies. In total, 295 million and 238 thousand euros will be distributed to Italian sport with an increase, compared to last year, of 15 million, 2.5% more. 13,409,103 euros will go to Federnuoto, of which 5,530,078 for Olympic and high-level training and 7,879,025 for promotion and activities. It has also been revealed that the board of directors has advanced an additional 10 million euros from its budget in favor of sporting bodies to deal with high energy costs in the case of technical centres. Enough resources? We will find out…
Swimming, the secrets of Italy’s strongest ever: programming and investment in technicians, but the closure of the swimming pools is worrying