Benedetta Pilato, the 14-year-old Italian breaststroke sprint ace, has sparked controversy and mixed reactions after reportedly joining Circolo Canottieri Aniene –the same team that renowned Italian swimmers Federica Pellegrini, Margherita Panziera, or Simona Quadarella swim for. The news has generated controversy in Italy, as Pilato is only 14 years old.
Pilato, who lives with her parents in the Italian town of Taranto, in Southern Italy, would have to travel approximately 500 kilometers (an estimated 310.7 miles) in order to train with the CC Aniene swim team, located in the Italian capital.
Consequently, Pilato’s possible affiliation with CC Aniene has sparked controversy and mixed reactions, leaving many wondering whether the young Italian Olympic hopeful would indeed move to Rome and leave her home and family in order to pursue her athletic career.
However, Pilato’s coach, Vito D’Onghia, confirmed that the teenager would not be moving to Rome, but rather stay in Puglia and train with her club team.
Last Thursday, Oct. 4, CC Aniene issued a statement in regards to the current situation. In the statement, the team clarified that Pilato would not have had to leave her hometown.
Per the statement, given the swimmer’s early age, their intent was for her to remain in Taranto with her family.
In response to the issue, Italian Swimming Federation president Paolo Barelli, too, issued a statement through Italian news outlet La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno. His full statement can be accessed below:
“The Italian Swimming Federation is very upset about what is happening. Troubled and sorrowful.
What is the benefit of registering a 14-year-old girl for a company in another region who remains (obviously) at home by continuing to train in her same home pool? The Federation does not like the way this is being handled.
Italy’s swimming federation has a duty to express its disappointment when the hunt for an athlete becomes a competition. Our community considers this attitude misleading.
Benedetta Pilato is only 14 years old and if she has reached world goals, it means that swimming in Taranto to date has not been so negative. And the Federation was willingly available to support the swimmers’ best local choices,” said Barelli in the statement.
Benedetta Pilato is the current Italian record holder in the 50-meter breaststroke as she became Italy’s first-ever female swimmer to break the 30-second-barrier in the event after clocking a 29.98 during the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea last summer.
Her personal best in the 100-meter breaststroke lies in 1:08.21, which she achieved during the FINA World Junior Championships in Budapest, Hungary, also last summer.