Federica Pellegrini, The Grande Dame of Swimming from Italy
The most, the most, the most… Federica Pellegrini’s name is associated with lots of superlatives: she was the first female Italian swimmer to win Olympic gold; she was the first woman to breach the 4-minute barrier in 400 m freestyle (in the final of the world championships in Rome); she is the only Italian swimmer who could beat world records in multiple events; the youngest Italian to claim Olympic medal in an individual event (in 2004, Athens); the first female swimmer who won medals in the same event (200 m freestyle) at six consecutive world championships and the list goes on…
According to her – and based on a photo she posted on Instagram lately – she loved water for the first sight and she got acquainted with the basics of swimming very early. Her first international result was claimed in the Olympics, when she won silver medal in 200 m freestyle at the age of 16 in Athens, 2004.
In 2008 she arrived in Beijing as the world-record holder and favourite for gold in 400 m freestyle, but she finished fifth only. Fortunately, she did not dwell on disappointment too much and on the same day she swam world record in the preliminary of 200 m freestyle. Then in the final, by beating her own record actually, she became Olympic champion.
In the World Championships in Rome she claimed gold medals both in 200 and 400 m freestyle with world records. In Shanghai she doubled again and became the first female swimmer ever to win both events in two consecutive World Championships.
Before London, 2012 she refused to be the Italian flag bearer at the opening ceremony saying that she had to jump into pool the following day. This was therefore no excuse for getting poorer results (finished fifth in both events).
The following two World Championships in Barcelona and Kazan she won silver medals, however, she still could break a record by becoming the first ever female swimmer to win medals in the same event at six consecutive World Championships.
In Rio she agreed to be the flag bearer and in her fourth Olympic Games she could at last participate in the opening ceremony. However, the competition did not go well, she could not claim any medals.
Pellegrini is very popular in Italy, no surprise she always appears in newspapers and not only in those specialised for sport. As a matter of facts it is also because of her other activities: she models, participates in TV shows and what is more, her boyfriend is a handsome and famous swimmer, multiple world and European champion Filippo Magnani, who – by the way – will compete in Budapest, as well (only in relay, though).
Pellegrini confirmed in an interview given to the Italian weekly paper ‘Chi’ that she plans to continue swimming until Tokyo 2020. ‘I gained no medals in Rio and I did not want to finish my career with such a painful memory. A woman feels when to start something new, the time has not come yet, at the moment I do not intend to start a family. I am not yet ready to start a new kind of life.’
As of now there is no need for her to do so, since she is preparing intensively for her eighth World Championships and – according to her plan – she will be present on 26th and 28th July in the Danube Arena for the finals of 200 and 100 m freestyle.
Born: 5th August 1988
Olympics: 1 gold (200 m freestyle – Beijing); 1 silver (200 m freestyle – Athens)
World Championships: 4 gold (200 and 400 m freestyle – Rome, 200 and 400 m freestyle – Shanghai); 4 silver (200 m freestyle – Montreal, 200 m freestyle – Barcelona, 200 m freestyle and 4x200 m freestyle relay – Kazan); 1 bronze (200 m freestyle – Melbourne)