Postcards From Pellegrini & Co In Coronavirus Containment: “We’ll Be Back Stronger Than Ever”

Federica Pellegrini - Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Federica Pellegrini, the most decorated swimmer in the history of 200m freestyle racing, has urged Italy’s young, swimmers and all alike, “to be patient and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We’ll be back, stronger than ever.”

Pellegrini was taking to the leading Italian swimming site as part of a series of ‘postcards from Italy‘ during the nationwide lockdown imposed in Italy designed to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Italy was the first European nation to be hard hit by the virus, prompting the Government to impose stringent lockdown measures that include the closure of schools, universities, institutions, the cancellation of sports events and the shutdown of pools. The infections count has now topped 21,500, while the numbers of death have exceeded 4,500.

Elite senior and national-team juniors swimmers are being catered for, the bulk of club swimmers not – and national and Olympic training camps are all off – as noted by Pellegrini and senior Italian coach Claudio Rossetto in coverage of the Italian swimming realm in lockdown by, led by Editor-in-Chief Federico Gross.

Pellegrini, the 2008 Olympic champion. and record four times World 200m freestyle champion with a stunning eight podium finishes to her name in that events between 2005 and 2019, tells Nuoto:

“It’s hard to stay focused on training while the whole world is facing such an unprecedented health crisis. I hope everything works out for the best, hope that the Olympics will take place, this year or next. To young people I say, be patient and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We’ll be back, stronger than ever.”

Reilience in lockdown has been a theme well beyond swimming, as the population of Naples sang to each other and shouted messages of encouragement across balconies, a trend that has spread to the whole of the nation:

Rossetto, who has coached the likes of Filippo Magnini and Luca Dotto, and is a national-team coach, speaks of the frustration he feels as a professional whose role is to give best advice to his athletes at a time when he has no answers to critical questions. Says Rosetto:

“Swimmers need certainty. It’s hard to find a motivation without a target. It’s also hard to find an open pool: the Italian Government granted an exception for elite swimmers, but what about all those young talented athletes who cannot train and won’t be ready to compete for a long time?”

Rossetto raises key issue that this preparing to press ahead with a July Olympic Games do not acknowledge- nor appear to understand – in their reasoning as to why Tokyo might go ahead as planned or be postponed”

“In addition to missing goals, at the moment the kids also miss being together, sharing the effort, pursuing a common dream. Everyday life may seem trivial but it is the first certainty that each of us has. And the fact that this is lost shifts all balances.

“The problem among the boys now is that they are scattered, they can no longer train in groups, some of them are swimming away from home. All the pre-Olympic camps foreseen by the Italian Swimming Federation are now cancelled, and they were important moments for the athletes, because in addition to being functional to their preparation, they are moments in which they stay together, have fun and create team spirit and train better.”


Claudio Rossetto – Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala, Deep Blue Media

Says Rossetto:

“The swimmer is a rather particular sportsman: he needs certainty of the dates, since the planning of his work must be done according to the goal. It does not matter if it is far or near, the important thing is to have the goal. At this moment, with the climate of insecurity that exists, for which there is no prediction of the future, training without a goal for a swimmer is a psychologically very difficult situation to sustain. And that is the case regardless of whether the athlete looks for qualification for the Olympics or already has it in his pocket.

“Not knowing when to give your best, not knowing what you are preparing for is certainly not beautiful. They are not athletes used to improvising, they are kids who plan for the activity to be carried out, pragmatically. Not having a goal makes it difficult to train hard, even without considering the complications of not being able to swim due to the closure of many pools.

“Fortunately for elite athletes the situation is better, they are subject to a derogation that allows them to continue practicing the activity. But however this climate does not help.

“As a federal technician I feel responsible for supporting the athletes I follow, I feel I have to help them not to give up on motivation but unfortunately I have few answers to give them and have nothing to say. From a practical point of view, we stopped working for the Italian Championships, since they will not take place, and we are switching focus towards the Settecolli (Seven Hills meet in Rome in June) – but always with a question mark hanging over it all.”

The Settecolli would then, coronavirus events allowing, serve as the new Italian Olympic trials instead of the championships cancelled the week before last. It is a deeply frustrating time for all, Rossetto indicated:

“My thoughts also go to the athletes who are in the final phase of their career. For a young athlete, who has just started, this emergency is certainly a negative event, but there will be others to focus on and prepare for. Although I believe that if the Olympic Games were not to take place, the repercussions would fall on everyone, young and old athletes.

“The fact that we cannot program anything makes our work and that of swimmers much harder. The fact is that we cannot make predictions, while the world of swimming is based on planning, clear objectives and well-defined intermediate stages: it is a peculiarity of our sport.”

The View From Inside – Resilience The Key



Nicolo Martinenghi – Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

More snippets from Postcards from Italy, courtesy of our colleagues at

MARCO PEDOJA – Nicolò Martinenghi’s coach:

“We’re living to the day. We train once a day, working on endurance and technique, seeing what’s going to happen. We go to Milan every day for training, it’s a long way (about 180km roundtrip) but it’s also an opportunity to spend time together and to take stock of the situation. Nicolò is a young swimmer (20) and this is an opportunity to grow up.”

ANTONIO SATTA – Alessandro Miressi’s coach:

“Transforming crisis in opportunities, this is what we have to do. Alessandro trains twice a day, morning dryland training by himself at home, afternoon in our swimming pool in Torino – we have a specific permission from city authorities. We’re not focusing on training but on keeping his water feeling, waiting for the situation to evolve. We must find a way to evolve and become stronger.”

GIANNI NAGNI – general manager of Aniene Swimming Club: Simona Quadarella, Federica Pellegrini, Margherita Panziera:

“In spite of having a lot of great swimmers in our team, we decided to stop all activities. Maybe next week, our best athletes (we’r talking about 20 out of 200 swimmers)  will resume training. The kids are pawing to train, but health represent the main issue at the moment. I told them, ‘Think about the present situation as an out of season tapering session’.

STEFANO MORINI – Italian Head Coach and mentor to Gregorio Paltrinieri and Gabriele Detti:

“Nothing to say. Let’s wait, stay safe and hope nothing tragic happens.”

Extraordinary Events In Swimming History:

Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Italy, France, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil and Japan have all had major meets affected by the coronavirus pandemic, while in the United States, the NCAA Championships have been cancelled and USA Swimming has imposed a 30-day suspension on all events, while Canada is considering what to do about its Olympic trials early next month. In Italy, where swimmers are struggling to maintain normal routines, can’t get to practice and in some cases find pool time, a #stopolympics campaign was launched by the Nuoto website calling on solidarity among swimming nations to recognise that Olympic preparations have been blown off course and that it would be in the interests of fairness to postpone the Games for a time of calm beyond the coronavirus crisis. 

Our coverage:

Guidance on Water and Coronavirus 



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4 years ago

Might want to edit: Pellegrini was taking to the leading Italian swimming site … *talking

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