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Mario Massa

Biographical information

TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameMario•Massa
Used nameMario•Massa
Born29 May 1892 in Nervi, Genova (ITA)
Died16 February 1956
AffiliationsArdita Juventus Nervi
NOC Italy


Mario Massa was the best Italian swimmer before World War I. He came to notice at age 15 in 1907 by winning the Italian mile championship in August in Salò. In London 1908 Massa was on the first Italian Olympic swim team. In 1911 he showed his power over long distances, such as the Villefranche-Nice (7500 meters) and the Traversata di Roma. A year later he performed well in at the Stockholm Olympics and dominated the national championships.

In 1913 Massa had serious problems and, in November, close to the Nervi railway station, he attempted suicide by firing a shot at his heart but was saved thanks to a quick rescue. Abandoned by his best friends, he moved to Argentina in 1914 where he won some races. He returned to Italy in 1917, again competing as a distance freestyler, and in 1920 he made his third Olympic start in the 100 meters freestyle. Domestically, he won a total of 32 individual national titles and 9 in relay. The Genova Nervi swimming pool, located in the marina, bore his name until the summer of 2020 when it was demolished for a re-styling of the area.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1908 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) ITA Mario Massa
400 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 3 h6 r1/3
1,500 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) DNS
1912 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) ITA Mario Massa
100 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) AC h3 r3/4
400 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) AC h1 r1/3
1,500 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) AC h4 r1/3
100 metres Backstroke, Men (Olympic) DNS
200 metres Breaststroke, Men (Olympic) DNS
400 metres Breaststroke, Men (Olympic) DNS
1920 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) ITA Mario Massa
100 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 3 h5 r1/4
4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Men (Olympic) Italy 5