14-Year-Old Benedetta Pilato Becomes First Italian Woman Sub-30 in 50 Breast


At just 14 years old, Benedetta Pilato has had a breakthrough of her own in light of the world record swims earlier this meet from teenagers Kristof Milak and Regan Smith. Several years their junior, Pilato has become the first Italian woman to break thirty seconds in the 50-meter breaststroke with her time of 29.98 in the preliminaries of the event at Worlds in Gwangju.

Pilato came into this meet with a lifetime best of 30.13, done at the 2019 Sette Colli Trophy on June 22nd in Rome. When she did that time, she set the Italian record by .17, edging Arianna Castiglioni’s 2018 mark of 30.30. She went on to win the 50 breast gold medal at the 2019 European Junior Championships in 30.16 in early July, just off of her Italian record from Sette Colli.

This morning, in Gwangju, just three weeks from Euro Juniors, Pilato has erased that national mark again. She is now just the ninth woman to ever break 30 seconds in this event, and she ranks eighth all-time. She will continue on to the semifinals of this swim as the number one seed, ahead of WR-holder Lilly King of the USA (30.18) as well as Yulia Efimova and Alia Atkinson. Efimova is the third-fastest woman in history in this race, and Atkinson the sixth.

Pilato has a January birthday, so she’s about halfway between 14 and 15 years old. For some American context, there are no National Age Group records in 50’s above the 11-12 age group. That said, from the SWIMS database, the fastest American 15-16 is Emily Weiss (30.78) and the fastest 13-14 is Alexis Wenger (31.71).


  1. Lilly King (USA) – 29.40
  2. Ruta Meilutyte (LYU) – 29.48
  3. Yulia Efimova (RUS) – 29.52
  4. Molly Hannis (USA) – 29.71
  5. Jessica Hardy (USA) – 29.80
  6. Breeja Larson (USA) – 29.95
  7. Benedetta Pilato (ITA) – 29.98
  8. Katie Meili (USA) – 29.99
  9. Imogen Clark (GBR) – 30.04
  10. Jennie Johansson (SWE) – 30.05

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1 year ago

Great swim

1 year ago

Her stroke is very different. On the surface it looks like full body dolphin kick but in a brief shot from underwater she is doing a narrow breastroke kick.


1 year ago

When I was 14 I did almost exactly that time and it was the fastest swim nationally that year.

I’m a male.

This is absolutely bonkers. This girl is a freak.

Alice Wright Belknap
Reply to  Jred
1 year ago

She is NOT a freak, she is awesome especially at age 14. Way to go Benedetta !!!
I swam 37.0 at age 42 for a Masters world record 1992, today it is much faster.
Better techniques better times.

Reply to  Alice Wright Belknap
1 year ago

freak isn’t a bad thing lmao, one of my swimming goals for someone to see me swim and say “wow… disgusting swim”

English is a wild language

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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