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2021 News Swimming

Farewell to Fede


With a last 200m free, Federica Pellegrini waved goodbye to competitive swimming today at the Italian winter nationals in Riccione. Queen Fede, ruler of the 200m, Olympic champion and owner of 58 medals from major events (Olympics, World Champs, European Champs, both l/c and s/c) called it a day at the age of 33, to close an illustrious and outstanding career.

She stunned the world by claiming a silver medal at the age of 16 at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, in the 200m free. Her first big win came at home a year later, in Trieste where she hit the wall first, again in the 200m free, at 17 at the short-course Europeans. And more were to come soon as she started to claim success in the 400m free as well – snatched her first long-course European title in that longer event in Eindhoven 2008 – but the real highlight of that year, and of her whole career, happened a bit later in that season when she won the 200m free final at the Olympics in Beijing.

That was followed by her famous double in Rome 2009 when she became world champion in the 200m and 400m free – the world record she had set in the 200m is still unbeaten. She repeated this feat four years later in Shanghai but she had an outstanding run anyway at the Worlds as she medalled between 2005 and 2019 at each edition, eight in a row, a record among the women. And even after USA’s Katie Ledecky graced the scene and seemed to take over the reigns once and for all, Fede came back strong and added back-to-back titles to her already rich treasury by winning the 200m in 2017 and 2019.

At the Europeans she was even more supreme, though interestingly, her golden run was a bit shorter, lasted from 2008 till 2016 but she was still in the mood to claim medals at her last appearance this May in Budapest.

Altogether, she is 7-time European champion both in long- and short-course, has six long-course world titles and even one short-course gold – altogether 58 (22-17-19) from FINA and LEN events, plus four from the Mediterranean Games and two golds from the Universiade. Though one may recall her fantastic swims in individual events, she was also a great team contributor, 25 pieces of her total international tally came in relays.

In Italy, she amassed 129 national titles – a feat hard to repeat for anyone in the near future. Queen Fede also fed the media with endless stories of her personal life, she is a real diva with a strong but adorable character and with her exceptional status and charm she was instrumental in promoting swimming in Italy, in Europe and around the world.

Her seemingly immortal competitive edge is something we shall recall for long-long years – her constant presence and unparalleled abilities will be badly missed by each and every swimming-lover in this Universe.

Arrivederci, Grande Fede – and thanks for all!