The different silvers of Simona Quadarella and Thomas Ceccon at the World Swimming Championships

The different silvers of Simona Quadarella and Thomas Ceccon at the World Swimming Championships

In the 1500m freestyle the Roman is the first of the human, in the 100m back the Venetian misses the start and the finish and gives up the title won a year ago in Budapest. Italy is at 5 medals

And in short, today we were all ready to celebrate Thomas Ceccon's second consecutive gold at the World Swimming Championships after yesterday's one in the 50m-butterfly, a success in the 100m-backstroke with which he would have become the fourth Italian after Filippo Magnini, Federica Pellegrini and Gregorio Paltrinieri to win the title in the same specialty in two consecutive World Championships, which now has the aftertaste of interrupted orgasm. Ceccon finished second with a time of 52''27, preceded by that old fox Ryan Murphy (52''22), a 28-year-old American who was already the Olympic champion in Rio de Janeiro 2016. With the 52''16 he swam yesterday in the semifinal he would have won. “I got the finish wrong”, he said, and not only that: at the start he gave Murphy a twelve cents advantage. However, the collective bitterness for a silver medal explains much of Ceccon's ambitions: his head is already projected at the Paris Olympics, which will begin exactly in one year and one day, on July 26, 2024. The silver won shortly before in the 1500m freestyle by Simona Quadarella has a completely different flavour, the first of the human behind the American Katie Ledecky, who reached 20 world gold medals in her career, of which 15 individual like Michael Phelps. Ledecy dominated with a time of 15'26''27, the third fastest ever, Quadarella caught up behind him seventeen seconds (!) late but with a time of 15'43''31, his best performance in the last four years.

It was precisely since 2019 that Simona Quadarella had not climbed onto the podium of the 1500m freestyle: fifth at the Tokyo Olympics, also fifth at last year's World Championships in Budapest. This season he has shown constant form and regularity in results bordering on the surgical: 8'22''73 in the 800m freestyle at the City of Florence Trophy in March, 8'21''14 and 15'53''29 at the Absolute Italian Championships in Riccione in April, 8'22''04 and 15'53''24 at the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome in June. On Saturday he will also be the protagonist in the 800m freestyle. “It takes a lot of training and also a lot of mental balance, which I sometimes lost a bit, to maintain such a high standard for a long time”.

Simona Quadarella's words after the finish are the perfect hook to talk about an increasingly central issue in contemporary swimming, the mental health of athletes, and to welcome the Lithuanian gold medalist with sincere affection Rūta Meilutytė in the 100 breaststroke at the end of the day. Olympic champion in London 2012 at just 15 years old, Meilutytė had dissolved into thin air between 2019 and 2022 due to a burnout caused by eating disorders. She had left the sport, she had deleted herself from all social networks and took long walks with her dog. The time with which you won today, 1'04''62 with a first course of 29''78, is the eighth fastest in history. She became world champion exactly ten years after the first time, in Barcelona 2013. Welcome back.

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