Italy's Ruggieri beats the world record in the men's 50m breaststroke after 60 years: "I've caught up"
In 1961 he missed the men's 100m breaststroke record at the Italian championships. 61 years later, Italian Roberto Ruggieri returned to the Swimming Stadium to take the masters' world record in the men's 50m breaststroke for the 75-79 category. "Now, more than 60 years later, I have caught up. This record has a special meaning for me. In 1961 I had attempted an Italian record right here in the 100m breaststroke and failed. I had come from Milan to Rome, when there were still no 50-metre pools in my city," he says.
Before starting his swimming career, the 75-year-old athlete from Milan recalls that he was afraid of water as a child. "I learnt to swim at the age of 11, when my dad stopped teaching me what I learnt at the Italian Swimming Federation school. If you want to learn to swim, you have to attend the federal swimming schools," he advices.
Ruggieri, a retired chemical engineer, decided to take up swimming again at the age of 40. "I wanted to dedicate myself to a physical activity and I immediately thought of swimming, having a competitive career behind me. And a year later, in 1988, I took part in my first masters competition. Swimming is an excellent sport if taken over the years: it is aerobic and non-traumatic. During training you can feel the fatigue. In competition I feel like an automaton. After all these years of swimming, the head already knows what to do and the body follows. I start, I go and I don't think about anything," he says.
The European record holder also in the 100m IM relays his secrets for achieving these goals: "At my age you need a lot of self-discipline, you must not interrupt your training and you need a correct eating style. I train three times a week on the 2000, 2500 metres each time, while in the periods away from competition, I add a bit of fitness exercise."
Ruggieri arrived in Rome with his team, Aly Sport. "The team is crucial in these moments. You cannot do all the training and competitions alone. Swimming is an individual sport, but the fun comes from the team, the teammates, the outings together and the time we share. We are a nice, amalgamated team," he says.
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