A fish called Marco
by Agnese Priorelli
«The passage of time and not thinking about fatigue was the hardest part, but the warmth of the people and my companions helped me a lot».
Marco Fratini, professional doctor and swimmer of the Amatori Nuoto Perugia, has set a world record for passion: he swam for 24 hours, covering 70 kilometers and 300 meters. Everyone read about this challenge realized at the end of 2018, but few know the background of it and the kind of preparation involved. Marco, 45 years old, from Perugia, exceeded his limits, but he already thinks of another goal to achieve “I will keep you informed!”. We surely wait but, in the meantime, he has told us about the 24 hours spent swimming in the Pellini swimming pool in Perugia.
How did you come up with the idea of this sports record?
There isn’t a specific reason. Last year I participated in traditional competitions both in the swimming pool and in open waters – such as sea and lake, but I wasn’t keen on the idea of doing it again, so I thought of something different and I started to investigate in order to discover if anyone has ever swam for 24 hours. I found out that other crazy people had already dared to deal with similar challenges, but there was nothing official: I was the first to involve the judges of the Italian Swimming Federation. Thanks to them and to the president of F.I.N., Mario Provvidenza, we wrote the rules and organized the event. The judges counted the number of pools which I covered, alternating every three hours to ensure the official record.
How did you prepare for facing the challenge?
I started doing long workouts: three hours of swimming interlaced with moments of rest. After several tests we ended up understanding that the optimal trend was about 50 minutes of swimming and 10 minutes of break. Eventually, we increased the hours, from 3 to 6, 8, then a whole night, up to 24 hours. Everything has been coordinated by the nutritionist, Dr. Aurora Amato, in order to manage better the dosages of food. I must say that there was a perfect feeling among my trainer Stefano Candidoni, the psychologist, Dr. Anna Grazia Frascella and the nutritionist: in this way we have reached the best possible situation.
Many have asked themselves: what was going on in his head while he was swimming?
First I thought about the time it had to pass and how long it took to walk a tank. Then my head thought of many things: the problem, in fact, was to pass the time, because inside the water the time is dilated, but all the people who intervened and my swimming companions have accompanied me from the first until last minute of the race, helping me a lot to get through the hours. From this point of view it was less tiring than I thought. Of course, when the morning at 9 I realized that I still had to swim for nine hours and already I felt tired, it was hard. The psychologist is served right in these moments: I had with her pre-established breaks every 6 hours to recover both the body and the mind.
Would you like to try the same swimming in the sea?
I do not know. It is completely different: sea water helps to float, but it is not easy to have salt water in the mouth for 24 hours, it is a problem for the salivation. The sea is unpredictable, the waves can influence, the temperature of the water and the climate: there coluld be too many unexpected events.
Are you considering any other sporting record?
Surely I will do something else, I’m thinking about it and I hope to have more time to prepare the new one.
Was it hard not to sleep for 24 hours?
I decided to start the challenge at 6pm so that to face the night right away. However I did not suffer from the lack of sleep at all. On the other hand, we had to go through the problem of hypothermia using heated stoves and towels: a small crisis during the night occurred but in the morning everything was solved.
Umbria is certainly not a region that inspires aquatic activities … where does your passion for swimming come from?
Up to 21-22 years I used to train to take part in professional competition, then I stopped, because of my study commitments. Two years ago I decided to restart and at the Pellini swimming pool I met my old friends of the Swimming Amateurs of Perugia who trained for amateur competitions, so I decided to go back to the pool with a lot of enthusiasm. They were the ones who encouraged me to organize this event, they never left me during the 24 hours. They also took care of the people who passed through and asked information about my condition … on the terraces of the Pellini pool there were over 300 people at the end. A really exciting experience!
Ritual question: which is your link with Umbria?
I was born and I have always lived in Umbria. It is my land.
How would you describe Umbria in three words?
Closed, heart, home.
The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…