2020 Swammy Awards: World Jr Female Swimmer of the Year – Benedetta Pilato

To see all of the 2020 award winners, click here.


One of Energy Standard’s biggest additions this year was 15-year-old Benedetta Pilato. The breaststroke ace picked up some key victories for the team throughout the 2020 season including 3 50 breaststroke victories and 2 100 breaststroke victories. Pilato closed out the 2020 season as 32nd ranked MVP with 143.50 points season wide. In addition to her numerous victories, Pilato also set four new Italian records this year, two world junior records, and a senior European record.

In the short course 50 breast, Pilato posted 3 top-ten times in 2020, including two world junior record-breaking swims. Her second-fastest swim of 28.86 at semi-final 1 which was quick enough to nad the victory along with a new world junior record. Then at the final match of the season, Pilato came second in the 50 to King, lowering the WJR to a 28.81.

Top 10 Short Course 50 Breast Performances of 2020

  1. Lilly King – 28.77
  2. Benedetta Pilato – 28.81 WJR
  3. Benedetta Pilato / Lilly King – 28.86 WJR
  4. Alia Atkinson – 28.88
  5. Lilly King – 28.90
  6. Lilly King – 28.96
  7. Benedetta Pilato – 28.97
  8. Lilly King / Molly Hannis – 29.04

Pilato’s 28.81 was also quick enough to set a new Italian record in the event as well as to tie Rūta Meilutytė’s 2014 European record. Pilato also set a new Italian record in the 100 short course breaststroke, hitting a 1:03.55 at semifinal 1. Pilato was #3 rather than #2 in 100 breast world rankings. Her season-best of 1:03.55 was just over 2020’s fastest swims from Lilly King (1:02.50) and Alia Atkinson (1:02.66).

In long course, Pilato also downed the 50 breast world junior record with her 29.85 swim at the 2020 Sette Colli Trophy. That swim was just 0.01 seconds under Rūta Meilutytė’s 29.86 record from back in 2013.

That swim from her was the fastest in the event worldwide this year and the only swim under 30 seconds:

Top 10 Long Course 50 Breast Performers of 2020

  1. Benedetta Pilato – 29.85 WJR
  2. Ida Hulkko – 30.33
  3. Molly Hannis – 30.34
  4. Martina Carraro – 30.38
  5. Alia Atkinson – 30.44

Most recently, Pilato swam a 1:06.02 100 breast long course to earn herself a spot on next year’s Italian Olympic squad. Her swim also made her the fastest-ever Italian to swim the event, taking out Martina Carraro’s previous record of 1:06.36.

With another record-breaker year on the book for Pilato, the 15-year-old will have her shot come summer 2021 to prove herself on the world’s largest stage and vie to become one of the world’s youngest Olympic medalist.


In no particular order

  • Anastasia GorbenkoAnastasia Gorbenko was an important member of the LA Current this year, frequently racing the 100/200/400 IM triple, along with a couple of breaststroke events and relays. With a multitude of top-three finishes this season, she picked up an individual victory in the semifinal 200 IM, taking out Kelsey Wog, Katinka Hosszu, and Beata Nelson, among others. Throughout the year, Gorbenko downed a total of 8 Israeli records in the short course 50 free, 100 back, 50/100 breast, 100/200/400 IM, and the long course 400 IM. Season wide, Gorbenko finished 42nd in MVP points with a total of 133.25 points.
  • Regan Smith – As the only swimmer on this list to not swim in the ISL, Regan Smith‘s 2020 success came mostly in the form of pre-quarantine long course swims. Fresh on the heels of a triple world record-breaking 2019 season, Smith wasted no time this year and threw down world-leading long course swims in both the 100 and 200 backstroke at the TYR Pro Swim Series back in March. Smith posted a 58.18 in the 100 which was the fastest in the world until McKeown ripped her 57.93 in December. Smith was also the second-fastest swimmer globally in the 200 back, joining McKeown as the only swimmers in the world under 2:06. She also posted the fourth-fastest 200 fly of the year and was the fifth-fastest American in the 100 fly in long course.

Past Winners:

  • 2020 – Benedetta Pilato, Italy
  • 2019 – Regan Smith, United States
  • 2018 – Taylor Ruck, Canada
  • 2017 – Rikako Ikee, Japan
  • 2016 – Penny Oleksiak, Canada
  • 2015 – Viktoria Gunes, Turkey
  • 2014 – Daria Ustinova, Russia

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8 months ago

Personally i found Curzan, Chikunova and Shkurdai all more impressive than Gorbenko.

Reply to  AnEn
8 months ago

agree. Long course>short course.

Claire Curzan and Shkurdai had 56s 100 fly.
Chikunova 1:06 100 breast and 2:21 200 breast.

8 months ago

Those were all referencing her American rankings, which wasn’t clear as written. I’ve updated to make it more ‘global looking.’

8 months ago

Pilato also swam a stunning 29.61 in the 50 at the last national champs, 2 tenths off the WR.

8 months ago

On December 18 at the Italian championships, Benedetta Pilato swam 29.61 in the 50 breaststroke