Pellegrini Swims Fastest 200 Free Since 2017 World Championships


Italian veteran Federica Pellegrini dropped an incredible swim of 1:55.42 in the women’s 200 free at the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome, the fastest time she’s produced since winning the 2017 World Championship title in Budapest.

At that meet, Pellegrini defeated favorite Katie Ledecky and Aussie Emma McKeon (who tied for silver in 1:55.18) in a time of 1:54.73. After that swim, she announced she was officially done swimming the event, a statement that obviously hasn’t held true.

After swimming a few SCM 200s post-Budapest in the summer of 2017, she competed in the event at the Short Course World Championships last December, placing fourth, and has continued to pursue it this long course season. At the Italian Championships in April, she won the event in a time of 1:56.60.

In the world rankings picture, the 30-year-old moves up from 10th into fifth, now only trailing Ariarne Titmus, McKeon, Ledecky and Sarah Sjostrom.

Pellegrini Federica Italy

2018-2019 LCM WOMEN 200 FREE

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Pellegrini has won a medal at a record seven consecutive World Championships in the event, dating back to 2005 in Montreal where she won silver a week before her 17th birthday. Her run includes gold medals in 2009 and 2011 in addition to 2017, and she also set the world record at those ’09 Championships in 1:52.98 which continues to stand today.

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She is definitely in a great shape right now!


I am telling you she will medal at worlds this year and make it the 8th worlds in a row to medal in the 200 free.


I didn’t think she would swim the 200 free post-2017 and certainly didn’t believe she would swim it this fast. Honestly there has never been a 200 freestyler this consistent, either male or female, in swimming history.


Let’s see, over a 16-year career, she has won gold in the 200 Free in just one Olympics (2008), did not medal in the 200 Free or any other event in the past two Olympics, went six years before winning gold again in the World Championships after winning in 2011. So, yes, consistent in the sense that it is her favorite event (only event now?), she has swum it a lot of times, and has garnered a whole bunch of minor medals and non-podium finishes.


The 200 free is one of the toughest events to stay on top, even Thorpe and Phelps lasted less than a decade making podium finishes. she’s almost as consistent as Cseh, who I would consider the most consistent ever after medaling every summer since 2003 individually at the years top meet. Her still being in medals ten years after her peak 2009 (2 WRs, Olympic gold year prior) speaks to her work ethic and passion, there’s a reason the mid-distance free records tend to have very little turnover (unless your name is ledecky)


As you note, Pellegrini peaked in 2009. The cloud that hovers over her career, unfortunately, is that from 2011-2017, she was in a highly publicized six-year live-in relationship with now-retired swimmer Filippo Magnini, who has been adjudicated in anti-doping proceedings and banned from the sport for activities occurring during that timeframe. Those activities included attempted use of prohibited substances, and aiding and abetting the use or attempted use of those substances (as reported on this site on May 14, 2019).


Coilo, she was silver at the 2004 Olympics, Gold in Bejing, and has medaled in all WCs since 2005. Find me someone else who stayed at the top or around the top in the 200 free for 15 years, if you can. VDH lasted two Olympic cycles and so did Thorpe.


Pellegrini was not at the top at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics in the 200 Free or any other event, which creates two big asterisks in the medal streak you tout. Participation medals and “around the top” do not count, and an eight-year Olympic medal drought impresses no one.


Phelps – Nope. Lochte – Nope. Schmitt – Nope. Thorpe – Nope. VDH – Nope. Van Almsick – Nope. Manaudou – Nope. Biedemann – Nope. Sun Yang – Nope.

So who has been more prolific in the 200fr?


For whatever reason, you are way overhyping her. Pellegrini has outswum her opponents just twice–in one event–in the past 7 years at the major int’l meets and with nothing to show medal-wise during the Olympics in that period. Yes, cheers to the fact that she keeps on swimming in light of that performance, but unfortunately her connection to Magnini casts a pall even over that.


Whatever quantitative measure you choose Federica Pellegrini won’t be the best 200FR swimmer. She is far away from fastest textile suits time of Allison Schmitt. She wasn’t consistently fast swimmer. Ledecky for instance has more under 1:55 results and Sjostrom swam more times than anybody else under 1:54.5. For the swimming career that long you may expect more wins at major competitions. If to consider that high-tech suits helped mostly middle distance swimmers (that are the only records left: 200fly, 200free, 4×200) improving performance by 1.5% – 2% then Pellegrini’s record isn’t that impressive. But, and that is a big one, I don’t think that any swimmers who are pushing currently the boundaries in this event will swim 1:54.4 at… Read more »


Like is or not she is the current world champion. She medeled in the past 7 world champs.
She broke both 200free and 400free in textile as well over 10 yrs ago.
You can’t compare any other 200free swimmer with Pellegrini


Have to agree with you here, Luigi. How many people have medalled in the same event at 7 consecutive World Championships? WR holder, Olympic Champion. For all the naysayers, I’d love to know, who has matched her longevity and trophy cabinet in the 200fr?

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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