Dario Verani takes the stage and keeps it over the finish line. Twenty-five kilometers in the water, for the marathon of the sea which, transported to a lake, makes your head spin and your arms tremble. And he decides the longest race of the World Swimming Championships in the last 100 meters and doesn’t finish it there either. He keeps it on him, vibrant. He screams as he steps back onto the dock, arms high and then swollen muscles. Proud of being where he wanted to be and above all freed from the fear of returning to the pool in miracles with nothing to show off.
Verani, 27, trains in Ostia with Paltrinieri and Acerenza (gold and silver of the 10 km, in addition to the rest) also led by Fabrizio Antonelli and the idea of disfiguring must be in his head because the satisfaction for success is a real outburst: «I’m in seventh heaven. In this result there is a lot of anger and determination for the difficult moments experienced, put behind me thanks to those who have always been close to me, including my coach. Now I have a sense of lightness. For me it was like being reborn ».
Not only is he first, he also beats, in the sprint, after exhaustion, the French Axel Reymond, world champion twice in a row in search of the record with the third. But no: there is Verani which is cooler, which grows when there seem to be no more meters to make a difference, which increases in stroke rate and in the space it occupies: bulky, flashy, exultant after 5 hours, 2 minutes and 21 seconds: “This race tests you physically, mentally, even morally”.
The race also tells us more, a clear change that crosses a happy memory and a funny exultation and mirrors the evolution of the blue background. The last time Italy won a 25 km was in 2015, on the first step of the podium was Simone Ruffini who, after having vomited several times in the water, fished inexplicable strength and swam to a moving triumph. Then with a sign he asked “Aurora”, then his girlfriend (and teammate) to marry him. The wedding was never celebrated, which teaches not to make proposals after rejecting the soul and shows two opposing worlds. Not just for two athletes who couldn’t be more distant like Verani and Ruffini.
The open waters now travel by power and feed on tactics even when it is necessary to hold up the kilometers. Once, the 25 km was a test intended for dreamers, only today Italy wants to keep its eyes open. And don’t miss anything. –