2019 South American Female Swimmer of the Year: Delfina Pignatiello, Argentina
After many successes on the junior level and in her home country, earning 3 medals (2G, 1S) at the 2017 World Junior championships, 19-year-old Argentinian Delfina Pignatiello has now established herself as an elite senior swimmer with her accomplishments in 2019.
Pignatiello started the year off by becoming the first Argentinian to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the 2019 Argentina Nationals in April. Already with that accomplishment, Pignatiello began to emerge as a senior swimmer.
The teen went on to break two South American records during the Mare Nostrum series in June 2019. At the Canet stop, Pignatiello became the first South American woman to break 8:25 in the 800m free (while wearing air pods), breaking both the Argentinian and South American event records. Just days later at the Barcelona stop, she broke her second South American record in the 1500 free at 15:51.68, which was also a Mare Nostrum Series Record.
After progressing from breaking national records to South American continental records, Pignatiello broke out as a senior with her performance at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. After the meet, Pignatiello walked home with 3 gold medals, sweeping the distance events (400/800/1500 free). Her performance was historic, as she not only was the first-ever Pan Ams champion in the women’s 1500 free but put Argentina on the medal table with the 3rd-most golds (3) and 4th-most medals (9).
In no particular order
- Etiene Medeiros, Brazil — The 3-time Swammy winner was lone South American woman to win a medal in the pool, earning silver in the 50 back behind American Olivia Smoliga. At the 2019 Pan Ams, Medeiros earned 5 medals, including gold in the 50 free, bronze in the 100 back, and 3 relay medals (2S, 1B).
- Julia Sebastian, Argentina — Last year’s Swammy winner broke 2 South American records during her time at the 2019 Pan Ams meet. Sebastian walked away with 3 medals, a tight silver in the 100 breast and 2 bronze (200 breast, mixed 400 medley relay).
- Larissa Oliveira, Brazil — Oliveria had a big medal haul in Lima during the Pan Ams, picking up 7 total medals to her name. Among the medals, Oliveria earned double bronze in the 100/200 free, contributed to gold in the mixed 400 medley relay and four other relays (2S, 2B).
All 2019 Women’s South American Records
- 800 Free: Delfina Pignatiello (ARG), 8:24.33
- 1500 Free: Delfina Pignatiello (ARG), 15:51.68
- 200 Back: Fernanda de Goeij (BRA), 2:11.95
- 50 Breast: Jhennifer Conceicao (BRA), 30.42
- 100 Breast: Julia Sebastian (ARG), 1:06.98
- 200 Breast: Julia Sebastian (ARG), 2:24.92