Federica’s Pellegrini’s Passion For Fashion The Perfect Match For Swim Arena In League Of Its Own

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

First day Of International Swimming League 

The Indiana University Natatorium (IUPUI) is in lockdown and swimmers heading into the launch of the International Swimming League later today are under strict instruction: no photos.

“I think this will be the best competition I have ever been at,” one swimmer told Swimming World. The athlete has seen action at the Olympic Games and World Championships and knows what a great stage looks and feels like.

Another source told us: “The venue looks amazing”. Swimming World will be there to find out when the show gets underway at 2pm Indianapolis time. In some regards, it will be like no other swimming competition ever held but think the thrill of Duel in the Pool and NCAA plus, plus, plus…

Itching to take snaps and send the news of the new in the pool out to swim community at the dawn of going global with a Pro-Team show to fill the void of 21st Century formats between Olympics, the swimmers must wait. The League is about more than reaching the swim-fan base and community: seeking a bigger share of a trillion-dollar-a-year sports market is challenging.

Big splash is where its at this day. Four teams are in town:

  • Cali Condors, including Lilly King, Mitch Larkin, Caeleb Dressel, Ariarne Titmus – but we won’t know the line-up until later in the day.
  • DC Trident, including Katie Ledecky, Cody Miller, Zach Apple, Natalie Coughlin
  • Energy, with Sarah Sjostrom, Chad le Clos, Ben Proud, Penny Oleksiak
  • Aqua Centurions, with Federica Pellegrini, Luca Dotto, Laszlo Cseh, Sarah Koehler

Pellegrini, now 31, represents everything the League is looking for: star quality in the water and on the deck and in the studio and out in the wider world of TV, newspapers, social media and with a fan base far beyond the swim-fan base. Then there’s the fighter we know in the water who is happy to bring that spirit to the negotiating table with a view to changing her sport for the better. On the way to getting the League off the ground, she told Swimming World:

“I think it’s a very positive thing that the swimmers all stood together to make this happen. We have to continue to do that. It’s a new game and we have to work at it.”

That the struggle with FINA was needed came as no surprise to a seasoned battler. Asked if she was happy that it all came towards the mature end of her career, Pellegrini noted:

“Yes but I have had a lot of situations in Italian sport that meant we had to fight for what was right, for what we wanted. In that sense, this was no different. I know how it works; I know what to do.”

On the format, no secrets revealed, Pellegrini said:

“I like it very much. For two reasons; it’s a new and exciting format, based on team and it allows swimmers to be in the limelight through the years not just once every four years. It also creates a parallel world to FINA, a season apart; the events will be on different dates to the main FINA events, so they can co-exist.”

She believes that Tokyo 2020 “will be my last competition” but the League is a big draw. She may race on beyond Tokyo as an Aqua Centurion or become involved in management, directing, or – team fashion.

Among the most stylish swimmers you will ever see wandering from the deck to the catwalk within hours of a fast swim, Pellegrini has a passion for fashion, as any self-respecting Italian must. She admits to being “addicted” to shoes.


Federica Pellegrini – the girl with the many tattoos – Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Insidefoto / Deepbluemedia

Don’t let the glamour fool you: she’s about the toughest it gets in the aquatic arena. Certainly, a fighting spirit (complete with skull-and-crossbone tattoo) to make her grandfather Gastone, an Italian national wrestling champion, proud of.

Pellegrini sports a number of tattoos: there’s the first one as he got, a Chinese dragon on her ankle she persuaded her parents to let her have after she claimed her first national title at 14; and there’s a spray of roses containing the three colours of the Italian flag and the name ‘Alberto’ in honour of coach Castagnetti, the mentor who passed away in 2009 after watching his charge claimed the 200 and 400m World titles at home in Rome; then there’s a tribute to Bali; heraldic patterns in the low of her back; and poetry on her back, running below her right armpit to her midriff.

Rome and the Foro Italico, the den, the Colosseum of the Lioness of Verona, was also the test venue for the fledgling League back in August 2017. The light show, the packed stands, the team format, were all indicators of what will unfold in Indianapolis today (x 1000). The teams in Rome were from the USA, Australian, Europe and Energy Standard, the first multi-nation pro-club of its kind, with a development arm and backed by League founder and visionary Konstantin Grigorishin, the billionaire businessman from Ukraine.

In Indianapolis, the multi-nation teams have names, brands, team cheers we’re about to tune into and swimmers will take to their blocks knowing that every race they swim will earn points and money for their team and, for those in the top 4, $300 for every point they earn ($1,000 at the Final Match in Las Vegas on the cusp of Christmas).


Federica Pellegrini with Italy and Aqua Centurions teammate Simone Sabbioni – Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Insidefoto / Deepbluemedia

Meanwhile, a quick reminder of the waves Pellegrini made in the pool:

  • At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, she became Italy’s first female Olympic champion in swimming, with victory over 200m freestyle.
  • At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, she became the youngest Italian athlete to win an individual Olympic medal when she claimed silver in the 200m freestyle at age 16.
  • In 2019, with victory in the 200m freestyle, Federica became the first swimmer in history to win eight consecutive medals in the same event at the world championships: four gold medals [2009, 2011, 2017, 2019], three silver medals [2005, 2013, 2015] and one bronze medal [2007].
  • The only Italian swimmer to have set world records in more than one event
  • She broke World records in the 200 and 400m freestyle and until this past summer was the only swimmer to keep Katie Ledecky at bay (200m, 2017 World Championships, for gold) in a major championship final since the American starting one of the greatest winning streaks in swimming history with Olympic gold over 800m freestyle at London 2012.

Beyond her racing days, Pellegrini will develop her career as a TV celebrity in Italy. Here’s a peek at the glamour she brings, from a Talk Show tribute to her last week:

What a bonus for the sport to have events that allow a legend of 200m freestyle to bow out from the traditional stage yet still be a part of the show, but just moved on never to be seen or heard of again in the pool like so many other greats of the sport. Swimming has missed a trick and many an opportunity because it has been a sport in which the blazers stay forever, the legends disappear.

That’s about to change.

Lights, Action…

The Last Word On The League, From The League

(with where and when you can watch it in your region)

Over 100 Olympians are represented by the ISL, including 41 Olympic gold medals from the 2016 Olympic Games.

The new professional International Swimming League (ISL) is set to deliver a massive audience of 40 million viewers across broadcast, live streaming and social media in its inaugural season.

The league has partnered with 10 different regular broadcasters, including ESPN in the United States and Eurosport in both Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, for the historic launch of the ground-breaking league. The matches will be viewable on six different continents — on linear and OTT platforms to engage with new generations.

“This is a huge audience number for the first season, and I am sure it will grow,” said ISL founder Konstantin Grigorishin. “Premium networks across the globe are on board, and we anticipate more broadcasters partnering with the ISL both this season and in the subsequent seasons as the ISL brand grows, teams and matches are added, and fans are attracted to this revolutionary new model of swimming.”

The ISL is the first professional league in the history of swimming and promises to take the sport to the next level. The biggest stars in swimming will compete for eight different clubs (Cali Condors, DC Trident, Aqua Centurions, Energy Standard, LA Current, NY Breakers, Iron, and London Roar) and race for team points over six regular season matches in October and November. The matches will take place in both the United States and Europe before the season culminates with the grand final in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA on December 20-21. This will feature the top four teams (two U.S.-based, two Europe-based) battling to become the first-ever ISL Champions. More than $4 million in appearance money and prize money for clubs and athletes will be awarded during the season.

Florent Manaudou world-championships

Florent Manaudo – Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

Approximately 75 percent of all current Olympic and World Champions will compete in the league, led by the 10 ISL ambassadors, Nathan Adrian, Cate Campbell, Caeleb Dressel, Katinka Hosszu, Katie Ledecky, Florent Manaudou, Ryan Murphy, Adam Peaty, Federica Pellegrini and Sarah Sjostrom.

Men and women will share equal prize money and media attention as they go to battle for their respective clubs. The ISL will engage sports fans each weekend with fast-paced two-hour matches, cutting-edge television production, including a unique camera plan and behind-the-scenes access, and a never-before-seen live show.

The 2019 International Swimming League matches will be broadcast on television live, delayed-live and via dedicated highlights programming in countries throughout the world. Details of regular broadcasters by country appear below. For precise details of broadcaster coverage please check local listings.

The broadcast information is up to date as of 10/04/19 and for countries without broadcasters, updates will be published at the link below.

Where to watch by region

  • United States: ESPN3
  • Europe and Asia-Pacific: Eurosport 2 and Eurosport Player (Europe)
  • Australia: 7plus (highlights 7TWO and 7plus)
  • New Zealand: Spark
  • Canada: CBC (Live streams: cbcsports.ca and via CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices; Broadcast coverage: Road to the Olympic Games on CBC and free CBC Gem streaming service)
  • Latin America: Claro Sport
  • Brazil: TV Globo (SporTV)
  • Caribbean: FlowSports
  • Israel: Sports 1
  • Middle East/North Africa: beIN Sports

When to watch by region

  • Local Indianapolis time (Eastern) – 2:00 p.m.
  • Los Angeles, Ca. (Pacific) – 11:00 a.m.
  • London – 7:00 p.m.
  • Tokyo – 3:00 a.m.
  • Sydney – 4:00 a.m.

Key Dates:

  • 5-6 October 2019 – IU Natatorium, Indianapolis, USA
  • 12-13 October 2019 – Aquatic Swimming Complex, Naples, Italy
  • 19-20 October 2019 – The LISD Westside Aquatic Center, Lewisville, Texas, USA
  • 26-27 October 2019 – Duna Area, Budapest, Hungary
  • 16-17 November 2019 – Natatorium at the Eppley Recreation Center, Maryland, USA
  • 23-24 November 2019 – London Aquatic Centre, Great Britain
  • 20-21 December 2019 – Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, USA