Italy’s national coach, Claudio Rossetto, includes the Canary Islands in the schedule for the athletes he trains because he says “they have everything they need here” to attain their maximum performance level.
The Italian national swimming team has made history by winning the highest number of medals for their country so far. This feat is largely thanks to the work of the team’s coach, who has travelled to Tenerife Top Training along with them.
Before starting, could you tell us who we are talking to and what your role is within the Italian national swimming team?
My name is Claudio Rossetto and I am in charge of speed in Italy, a role I have been fulfilling for this national team for over 20 years now. Over that time I have trained Magnini, Dotto, Rossolino, Rogan… and now my work is focussed on supervising all the sprint swimmers”
How is your time on the Canary Islands going? What are you doing here?
It’s going very well, we always feel good in Tenerife. I have been coming to the island for more than ten years, ever since Tenerife Top Training opened. Actually, the swimmers are keen to come here, and they even come back to the island again on their own throughout the year.
Tell us who you have come with for this sporting stage.
Right now I am here with ten swimmers from the team, like the world champion and 100 metre backstroke record holder Thomas Ceccon, the Tokyo Olympic medal winner Federico Burdisso, and other team members such as Alessandro Miressi, Manuel Frigo and Lorenzo Zazzeri, who are part of the 4x100 team (silver at the Olympic Games and bronze in the latest World Championship in Budapest). I am also accompanied by other coaches, like the individual coaches for each athlete and the personal trainers of Ceccon and Burdisso, among others.
There are no Olympic Games this year but the calendar is full of big dates. What is a national team’s main objective when there are no Olympic Games?
Our immediate objective is to participate in the European Championships in Rome and aim towards the future Paris Olympics with this group of swimmers; that is the current work cycle.
Let’s start with current events. 9 medals, 5 of them golds and names like Nicolo Martinenghi and Benedetta Pilato, winners of the 100 metres breaststroke, Thomas Ceccon, the 100 metre backstroke winner and world record holder at the Budapest World Championship… the team is winning it all. Can you tell us what the secret to the success of your team is?
Among other things, it is because Italy is doing significant work to promote this discipline. For example with the Federation, which brings the best swimmers together, and also by promoting group training sessions to try and make them believe in themselves and develop... everything that makes swimming grow in our country on a daily basis.
We train in the Canary Islands because this is a wonderful place, due to the climate. Tenerife is the island of eternal spring.
You must be proud to belong to a group that is achieving so much success. We understand medals to be no more than the result of good planning and team effort. What was it like to plan a season as important as this one?
This season was planned based on several goals. The Budapest World Championship was the most important one, and now it is the European Championships in Rome. We have completed three work cycles with the Abu Dhabi Championship, the second for Budapest and this third one for Rome.
One frequently sees national teams concentrate outside their country. The Italian National Swimming Team trains regularly in the Canaries. Whey choose the archipelago above others as a training destination?
We train in the Canary Islands because this is a wonderful place, due to the climate. Tenerife is the island of eternal spring and the weather here is always great (warm, but not too hot). We should bear in mind that in Italy at the moment it is extremely hot, and here we look for a kind of heat that lets you breathe, and feel good.
At what points in the season do you prefer to come, and why?
It’s very important for us to come above all in winter, when it’s usually extremely cold in Italy, but here you can swim outdoors and sunbathe. The swimmers are much calmer and happier here.
Many people are aware of the incredible natural conditions of the Canary Islands, but as well as that, the archipelago has specialist infrastructures for training at the very highest level which really help professional athletes to develop, wouldn’t you agree?
What would you highlight about the installations of Tenerife Top Training?
At Tenerife Top Training we have a series of facilities that are difficult to find in the rest of Europe, and I would say in the world. The full range of possibilities is available in the centre: pool, gym, very flexible schedules and you can train really well here.
The T3 is dear to my heart because the swimmers always like to come and the centre is wonderful, it’s fairly well protected from the wind (unlike other places in the Canary Islands where the wind is very strong) and it has everything, which is why the swimmers always come very keen to work.
At Tenerife Top Training we have a series of facilities that are difficult to find in the rest of Europe, and I would say in the world.
Let’s finish up with a few questions that aren’t about pools...
Do you usually visit the islands when you aren’t training?
We have been whale watching, and on other occasions we have been to see the Teide, Los Gigantes... Some of us have been paragliding... We like everything - probably what we enjoyed the most was going out on a boat or a PWC!
How would you describe the islands in just one word?
A tranquil paradise.
What is your favourite place on the Canaries?
I can’t choose... It isn’t a case of some places being better than others, the wonderful thing is being here. We really enjoy visiting the island and it completes the harmony of training.