Swimming at the Campus Aquae Trophy in Pavia, Italy, over the weekend, Federica Pellegrini took to the 400 free, a race she doesn’t swim very often. She won the event in a time of 4:10.09.
Pellegrini, who still holds the 200 free world record in long course meters, became the first woman to ever break four minutes in the 400 free when she broke the WR in 2009 in Rome at the World Championships. Her mark of 3:59.15 in the 400 held until a certain Katie Ledecky came along and broke it in 2014 with a 3:58.86 (and she now holds the current mark at 3:56.46 from the 2016 Olympics).
Pellegrini’s fastest time since rubber suits were banned is a 4:01.97 from 2011. She has competed in the event a handful of times since 2011, but after 2015 (her best that year was 4:07.44), she hasn’t registered a single swim in the long course version of the event. In SCM, she did swim it as recently as 2017 (3:57.80), which was her second-best outing in SCM, ever, by just .21.
It doesn’t seem very likely that Pellegrini is going to add the 400 free to her repertoire at big meets, but it can be hard to tell with her. After handing Ledecky her first-ever individual loss in an international championship meet in the 200 free at 2017 Worlds, Pellegrini said she was done with the 200 free at a major championship. Then, she raced it at the 2018 SC Worlds, six months ago, finishing just off of the podium in 4th.
If she’s teetering away from the 200 free individually, though, it would be a surprise if the mid-distance specialist and sprinter decided to put serious focus on an event twice that distance.