Rescue dogs Lea and Gastone announced as mascots for the Rome 2022 European Championships
A Golden Retriever, "the blonde" Lea, and a Newfoundland, "the brunette" Gastone, are the living mascots of the 2022 European Championships in Rome. The decision of the aquatic world, which expressed 43,064 preferences on Facebook and on the official website, resulted in an extraordinary ex aequo that rewards two dogs that are complementary in breed, sex, appearance and colour.
"The idea of having two living mascots comes out from the desire to promote the extremely important role of the Italian Swimming Federation's lifeguards and the lifesaving swimming department, to further increase the curiosity and interest of children and therefore families," says Italy's president Paolo Barelli, who has always given priority to promoting basic swimming techniques through the federal swimming schools and training lifeguards to protect, prevent and intervene in the event of accidents while swimming.
"Leading up to the event and during competition, Lea and Gastone will show the commitment of canine units and the entire rescue swimming movement at the service of citizens, who must be able to safely experience Italy's 7,500 kilometres of coastline and stretches of lake and river water. Over the years, the number of deaths due to drowning and submersion and bathing accidents have decreased significantly, but our commitment is aimed at reducing it to zero cases. Learning to swim saves lives, this is the message we would like to carry out with even more determination".
Lea and Gastone will obviously also be reproduced in soft toys and will be the protagonists of the European Elite and Master's Championships, that will take place in Rome, before continuing their journey as testimonials for the Riccione 2022 World Championships in Lifesaving Swimming, from 21 September to 2 October.
Lea’s and Gastone's adventure to become Roma 2022 mascots
The Rome 2022 press office published video clues on the social media channels of the Italian Swimming Federation inducing followers to guess which mascot would be the next Rome 2022 European Championships mascot. Vice-Olympic champion Lorenzo Zazzeri then revealed with a timelapse drawing of his own the symbol of the event, a living dog. The online contest to name the mascot began on 7 March with videos presenting the five rescue dogs selected by the Italian Federation and competing against each other on Facebook and on the official Rome 2022 website. Public voting began on 13 March, with 43,064 preferences expressed. The votes collected led to an incredible ex aequo between Lea and Gastone, respectively first on Facebook (44%) and on the Roma 2022 website (34%). The other dogs who take part in the contest were: Labrador Retriever Brianne, Golden Retriever Drop and Labrador Retriever Nanà.