By Nick Hope
LEN Digital Editor
World record holder Federica Pellegrini believes the “best ever” Italian team will challenge for multiple medals at the LEN Roma 2022 European Championships.
The 14-time European champion, who won gold at Beijing 2008 and claimed seven world titles, also competed at five Olympics before ending her career in late 2021.
She set the current women’s 200m freestyle world record time of one minute 52.98 seconds in the Stadio Del Nuoto venue on the Foro Italico, when it hosted the 2009 World Championships.
Roma 2022 will be the first major international aquatics event to be hosted in the venue since the Fina Worlds 13 year ago.
“For me it’s the best pool and I have the most emotion here because this is where I swam my world record in the 200m free, so for me Roma is very special and amazing,” she told LEN TV.
“I’m so proud to be here (but I feel) like a grandma! I am here to cheer my team-mates and my best swimmers here for the European Championships.”
The Italian team finished third on the official Fina swimming standings at the Budapest 2022 World Championships with an impressive haul of nine medals, five golds, in Hungary.
Pellegrini watched that event from home, but is keen to see Italy’s new generation of stars in person at Roma 2022 and selected some of her ones-to-watch.
“I think the Italian team is the best team ever, so I expect a lot of nice swims, lots of fights and amazing races,” she said.
PELLEGRINI’S ITALIAN WOMEN TO WATCH:
Benedetta Pilato (17) – The breaststroke specialist burst onto the international scene with a stunning 50m World championship silver medal at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships – when she was just 14 years old. Since then she has gone on to become a European gold medallists, break the 50m world record and claim the 100m World title.
Simona Quadrella (23) – The 800m Olympic bronze medallist has dominated the women’s middle to longer distance freestyle events at the last two editions of the European Championships winning the 400m, 800m and 1500m at Glasgow 2018 and Budapest 2020.
Margherita Panziera (26) – The backstroker has won seven medals across the last two European championships including the 200m event at both editions. In addition to individual success the Olympian will also aim to push Italian medley relay teams to podium places.
PELLEGRINI’S ITALIAN MEN TO WATCH:
Nicolò Martinenghi (23) – The
Gregorio Paltrinieri (27) – won the Olympic 1500m gold at Rio 2016 before adding marathon swimming (10km open water) to his programme. He is a five-time world champion, who’s most recent global success saw him claim the 10km and 1500m titles at Budapest 2022.
Thomas Ceccon (21) – claimed Olympic silver and bronze medals at Tokyo 2020 as part of the Italian men’s relay teams, but showed his individual prowess with not only his first major solo title at Budapest 2022 – but also a stunning 100m backstroke world record time of 51.60 seconds.
Pellegrini added that she was also particularly keen to see the relay events.
“I like the 4x100m freestyle and medley, but also I also want to see the mixed relays because it’s very fun for me to watch,” she told LEN TV.
“I hope Italy will be the best team here in Roma!”