Federica Pellegrini Threatens Retirement If Italy Goes Under Another COVID Lockdown

Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The two-time reigning world champion in the 200 freestyle, as well as 2008 Olympic gold medalist, Federica Pellegrini has indicated in an interview that she may end her swimming career if Italy has to undergo another coronavirus lockdown.

“If there is another lockdown I will stop swimming,” she said in an interview by “Il Fatto Quotidiano.”

In the event of a new postponement of the Tokyo Games, already postponed to 2021 due to a pandemic, she would back down: “I know what I am saying, the Olympics with a new lockdown will be canceled and I will no longer swim in three years.”

Federica Pellegrini is currently at her home in Italy recovering from a positive COVID-19 test, as she was forced to stay home and not participate in the 2020 International Swimming League season.

She said:

“Yesterday during a training session I went out because I was in a lot of pain and returning home in the afternoon I started to have a sore throat, and obviously I didn’t go to the pool any more, and this afternoon I had a swab and the result is positive.


Federica Pellegrini. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

“So I’m positive for COVID. I am very sorry because on Monday I was to leave for the ISL in Budapest starting to compete, which, in short … I needed and wanted to do. And yet, of course, I will not.

“I’m really sorry for everything: for me, I had started the year well, I was training well and I couldn’t wait to start a normal season again and instead nothing … We stop again.

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, although as you can see I have been crying until now. We will try to look at the bright side of it, even if it escapes me now, and we do these nice 10 days of quarantine at home … Yeah! Happiness….”

Pellegrini has threatened retirement before, in late 2018 after the European Championships when she dropped the 200 freestyle from her program, before ultimately picking it back up the next year. Then, she said her heart was telling her to stop, but her head was telling her to continue. Less than a year later, she won the 2019 World title in the 200 freestyle in her fastest time in ten years.

“After Tokyo, I will take some time to see what is better for my life because I don’t want to think about it right now,” Federica Pellegrini said in February during a training camp when the Olympics were still on in 2020. “I want to be focused on training and preparation.”

“I don’t want to have any pressure,” she said. “I want to do it with a big smile on my face.”

Regardless of future decisions, Federica Pellegrini’s passion for swimming remains unchanged, the secret ingredient of a long and successful career. She tells Il Fatto Quotidiano: “I have a disproportionate love for this sport and for how it makes me feel.”

Italy has had a spike in coronavirus cases. In September, daily cases were plateauing at around 1500 a day in the country, but got as high as 19,000+ on October 23.


  1. Roger S. Stark

    Threatens? See ya, I am sure there are many younger swimmers ready to get their chance

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