Federica Pellegrini Receives Lion of Venice Award

by Jack McCormick 9

January 14th, 2020 News

Federica Pellegrini received the Leone del Veneto (Lion of Venice) award at the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista in Venice, Italy on January 11th. Pellegrini is the first woman to receive this award, given out by the regional council to a Venitian citizen who has distinguished themselves in professional or humanitarian endeavors. The award was established in 1999 and was most recently awarded to Federico Faggin for his role in the creation of the first microprocessor.

Pellegrini, has fittingly been nicknamed the Lioness of Verona, because she trained in Verona but hailed from Venice, where the Lion of St. Mark is in the city Coat of Arms.

She is the defending world champion in the 200 free, having won the event at the World Championships last year. This victory marked her 6th Worlds Championship gold, with four of them coming in the 200 free. She is a two time Olympic medalist, having won silver in Athens (2004) and gold in Beijing (2008), both of these medals coming in the 200 free. In winning silver in Athens she became the youngest Olympic medalist in Italy’s history at just 16 years old. She would go on to become to first Olympic swimming champion for the country with her victory in Beijing.

She has now medalled in the 200 free at 8 consecutive long course World Championship events and is the only Italian swimmer to set a World Record in more than one event.

Pellegrini’s fame in her native country extends beyond the pool: she served as a judge on season 7 of Italia’s Got Talent. She has 1.1 million followers on Instagram and almost 750,000 followers on Twitter.

So far this season she holds the 5th fast time in the world in the 100 free, having taken second in the event at the Tokyo stop of the FINA World Cup in a time of 53.40. She is currently preparing for her 5th Olympics where she will look to return to the podium after finishing fourth in the 200 free in Beijing. While rumors have circulated that she may attempt to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, her camp has been quick to shut these down stating that while she may have joked about it, her intent is to retire following this summer’s Olympics.

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Pellegrini had amazing last season. At the age of 31 she is a world champion. You can say, well we know examples when swimmers become a world or even Olympic champion being much older. But who of them did it showing the fourth ever performance in history of this event. In the event that sees strong development of competition during last 6-8 years. The result of Franklin’s 2013 championship time that made her #4 all time performer may happen not being enough to make final in Tokyo. I remember some respectable Italian commentator suggested a few years ago that it is long due already for her to think about something else in her life. And then one personal best after… Read more »


I think that we must give a lot of credit to Matteo Giunta, Pellegrini’s last coach, obviously beside the amazing capacity of Pellegrini (“la Divina” for her Italian fans) to swim at maximum levels since 2004, i.e. 16 years! Already in 2016, under Giunta’s guidance, Pellegrini was extremely brilliant: in late June, at Seven Hills, before the final taper for Rio Olympics, she swam her PB in the 100 free (53.18) and, excluding the shiny suits, also in the 200 free (1.54.55). And then, like Luigi has written, she failed to peak for Rio, where she finished fourth in the 200 free with a 1.55.18, 6 tenths slower than at Seven Hills. At Worlds2017 the taper was adjusted (for instance,… Read more »

Old Man Chalmers

schmitt went 1:53.6 in 2012 and sjostrom went 1:54.3 in 2015, so while she isn’t the textile wr holder, her ability to crank out 1:54s consistently this late in her career is impressive


Ledecky 1:53 something in Rio too. Schmitt’s swim is one of the greatest underrated swims of all time.


There were zero chances of a gold medal for Fede in both London and Rio, but she could have gotten a lesser medal. After the disappointment in Rio, she told the press that she was targeting the bronze. I think it was a realistic goal. Then of course reality doesn’t care about your plans, realistic or not.

Don’t lie please



For sure the best swimmer to ever come out of Italy, the only regret is that she failed to peak during the two last Olympics.