Federica Pellegrini Set To Retire After The ISL; No Foro Italico Homecoming At 2022 Europeans

Federica Pellegrini of Italy celebrates after winning in the women’s 200m Freestyle Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 24 July 2019.
Federica Pellegrini: Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Federica Pellegrini will bring the curtain down on a career that has brought Olympic, world and European titles at Season 3 of the International Swimming League which starts in Naples, Italy, in August.

The Italian will compete in her fifth Olympics next month in Tokyo, 17 years after her debut at Athens 2004 where she won silver behind Camelia Potec in the 200 free, 12 days after she turned 16.

She upgraded to gold at Beijing 2008 where she responded to the disappointment of finishing fifth in the 400 to set a world record of 1:55.45 in the 200 heats the very same day.

Come the final and Pellegrini once again lowered the world record to 1:54.82 en-route to the Olympic title.

The six-time world champion will turn 33 on 5 August, nine days after the 200 free final in which she will end her international racing career.

Federica PELLEGRINI ITA Copenhagen 11-12-2017 Royal Arena LEN European Short Course Swimming Championships - Campionati Europei nuoto vasca corta Foto Andrea Staccioli / Insidefoto / Deepbluemedia

Federica Pellegrini; Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Insidefoto / Deepbluemedia

Then she will turn her attention to the ISL in Naples where she will once again represent the Aqua Centurions with the first stage of the season running in the southern Italian city from 26 August to 30 September.

There is of course the possibility that the Aqua Centurions will progress from the first stage of the ISL although they haven’t done so in the first two seasons.

In quotes reported in La Gazzetta dello Sport from an ISL press conference, Pellegrini said:

 

“I’ll stop but not in Tokyo – that’s when my last (international) races will be.”

She added:

“I’ll be there too in Naples. It will be like extra time in my career.

“I wanted to close with the Tokyo Olympics but there is this opportunity and I like the idea of bringing it to a close in Naples with the ISL which will be a beautiful showcase.

“I will have to be careful in those 40 days (following the Olympics) not to gain too much weight ….given the pizzas I will eat.

“The pandemic has influenced this decision, in the sense that this last year and a half of everything stopping has given me the incentive to continue and get here.”

A native of Verona, Pellegrini has an astonishing longevity at the very top and has been on the 200 free podium at every World Championships since 2005.

That’s eight consecutive medals with gold coming her way in 2017 and 2019 meaning she will retire as world champion.

The reaction to her at the 2009 World Championships was something to behold, a vocal crowd singing her name under the blazing sun at the Foro Italico, Rome, as an audience with the Pope awaited.

She became the first woman to go inside four minutes in the 400 free in 3:59.15 and set a world record of 1:52.98 over 200, a mark that stands today although Ariarne Titmus came within 0.11secs in 1:53.09 in the Australian trials on Monday.

Next year’s European Championships will be staged at the same venue in the Italian capital but Pellegrini will not be there in a competitive capacity looking to add to her 20 continental medals, of which seven are gold.

She said:

“No. The effort is great and I will soon turn 33 years old. I have already put a lot of stress on my body and mind.

“Since you care so much, they will be the last races of my career, so the Italian and Neapolitan fans can see me again.

“Although last race is a term I don’t like – it creates expectations and anxiety.”

 

 

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1 comment

  1. Jan Gert Notenbomer

    I thought the Europeans will be in 2023 and the world championships in 2022.