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In the name of the father: Italian swimming success runs in the family

Summer Games 5 August 2023

Italy was in the spotlight at the pool on Saturday in the men’s 800m freestyle final of the Chengdu FISU World University Games.

Matteo Lamberti from the northern city of Brescia won his second gold medal of the meet in 7:54.12, after triumphing in the 400 free on Tuesday.

Matteo’s last name brings immediately a lot of attention over his performance and for a good reason. He is the son of Giorgio, the first Italian swimmer to win a world title and a former world-record holder in multiple freestyle events. The elder Lamberti was inducted in the FINA Hall of Fame and now follows his two son’s careers, those of Michele and older brother Matteo, both students and promising swimmers.

“I wanted the gold medal for so long, so I’m happy to get it. I felt pretty good for the first 400m and then I started to progress,” explained Matteo, who attends the University of Brescia.

It was a tough race against Tabuchi Kaito, who touched the wall in 7:57.37. During the first 400, the Japanese remained in first place with a marked distance. But then, Lamberti was stronger in resistance and speed. Italy’s Ivan Giovannoni was third in 8:00.00.

Lamberti and Giovannoni have been friends for six years.

“It’s fantastic to share the podium with an Italian guy. I couldn’t be happier. We are not teammates back home but we usually race against each other,” started Lamberti.

“I’m very happy because even though I didn’t feel very well during the race, I’m celebrating my bronze, of course, but also Matteo’s achievement because he’s my friend,” said Giovannoni, smiling at his compatriot. The Italians share not only the same passion, but they also have the same academic interests.

“We are both studying economics but in different universities,” explained the gold medalist.

Giovanni Izzo, Giovanni Carraro, Paola Biagioli, and Anita Gastaldi, Italy’s silver medal winning 4×100 freestyle relay team

About combining sports and studies, Lamberti said, “It’s really difficult and hard because we train two times a day. So it’s very important to be very organized. But we know that everybody here does the same, and we are proving that it’s possible to do it.”

Friendship was also a factor for Italy’s mixed 4×100 freestyle relay.

China won gold (3:25.38) but the Italians were just behind (3:26.75), followed by Brazil (3:27.82).

“We are very happy about this medal because we are a group that works together and pushes ourselves to the limit,” said relay member Giovanni Carraro.

“We always competed against each other in the Italian championships, so it’s really fun to race with them,” added Giovanni Izzo.

“Italy is becoming one of the strongest countries in the world in swimming. We’re super, super proud about that, and this medal shows it”.

Other swimmers crowned on Saturday at the Dong’an Lake Sports Park Aquatics Centre were Lithuania’s Kotryna Teterevkova (women’s 200 breaststroke), Poland’s Kamil Aleksander Sieradzki (men’s 100 freestyle) and Poland’s Wiktoria Katarzyna Piotrowska (women’s 100 butterfly).

Written by Julieta Boschiazzo, FISU Young Reporter