Pellegrini Wins Record Eighth Straight World Medal In 200 Free


Two years ago in Budapest, Federica Pellegrini made history by becoming the first swimmer to win a medal in the same event at seven consecutive World Championships.

The Italian world record holder surprised the likes of Katie Ledecky and Emma McKeon to come from behind and win the gold in the women’s 200 freestyle in a time of 1:54.73, giving her a third gold during her streak of seven podium finishes.

After the swim, the now 30-year-old claimed to be retiring from the event.

She held true to her word last summer, only racing the 100 free at the European Championships, but began racing the long course 200 again in 2019. The two-time Olympic medalist won the Italian Championships in April in a time of 1:56.60, and then threw down a 1:55.42 at the Sette Colli Trophy in June to announce herself as a medal contender once again.

On day four of the 2019 World Championships, Pellegrini extended her record to eight with another first-place finish in a time of 1:54.22, her fourth gold medal in the event.

Post-race she hinted at her eventual retirement, stating “I’m very happy (with the win) because this is my last World Championships.” That likely indicates that she plans on hanging up her suit for good after Tokyo 2020.


  1. 2005, silver – 1:58.73
  2. 2007, bronze – 1:56.97
  3. 2009, gold – 1:52.98 (WR)
  4. 2011, gold – 1:55.58
  5. 2013, silver – 1:55.18
  6. 2015, silver – 1:55.32
  7. 2017, gold – 1:54.73
  8. 2019, gold – 1:54.22

Her time marks the fastest textile swim of her career, only trailing her world record (1:52.98) and semi-final time (1:53.67) from the 2009 Championships in Rome. It is the sixth-fastest swim overall in history.

Allison Schmitt is the textile world record holder with her 1:53.61 from the 2012 Olympics.


  1. Federica Pellegrini (ITA), 1:52.98 – 2009
  2. Allison Schmitt (USA), 1:53.61 – 2012
  3. Federica Pellegrini (ITA), 1:53.67 – 2009
  4. Katie Ledecky (USA), 1:53.73 – 2016
  5. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), 1:54.08 – 2016
  6. Federica Pellegrini (ITA), 1:54.22 – 2019
  7. Ariarne Titmus (AUS), 1:54.30 – 2019
  8. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), 1:54.31 – 2015
  9. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), 1:54.34 – 2016
  10. Allison Schmitt (USA), 1:54.40 – 2012

In typical Pellegrini fashion, she moved her way through the field throughout the race, turning seventh at the 50 before moving up to fourth at the 100, second at the 150 and then blasted a 28.90 split coming home to win.

Australian Ariarne Titmus, who led most of the way, won the silver medal in a time of 1:54.66, and Sarah Sjostrom picked up bronze in 1:54.78.

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1 year ago

Best 200 freestyler ever..

Reply to  Rafael
1 year ago

Everyone was arguing against this after 2017 though, saying her accomplishments weren’t that great 2008-2009 dosen’t count, ect… I know the supersuits were ridiculous but let’s not act like the people who set WRs at that meet were all clowns. Cielo went on to win a couple more world titles, biedermann had one of the fastest 200 frees ever in 2011 he just got beat by Lochte and Phelps. Pellegrini herself had a disappointing 2 Olympics afterwards but still has collected several medals at worlds, with this and her upset of Ledecky I think finally breaking her out of 2009s shadow.

Reply to  IM FAN
1 year ago

Nothing suggests that in 2009 Pellegrini was capable to swim under 1:54.5 (1.3% improvement by suite) or even under 1:55 (1.7% improvement). Unless Pellegrini presents a unique case when high-tech suit was of very little help to her if any at all. The statistics suggests that the high-tech suits affected performance by about 2% and it was most noticeable at middle distance events.
That makes her 1:54.5, 1:54.7 and 1:54.2 achieved during last three years at the age of thirty exceptionally impressive.

Reply to  Rafael
1 year ago

Honestly, not a bad take. I think Schmitt’s 200 free from London is the best SWIM in this race, but she doesn’t have the entire resume to back it up. Dominant swim in 2009 (won by 2 seconds). Yes it was in a supersuit, but so was everyone else. Moreover, the women’s 100 and 400 free records were in super suits and they have been destroyed since then while 1:52.9 has not even been CHALLENGED yet. It took PEAK Schmitt and PEAK Ledecky to get within 1 second of it. 1:54.22 is also a really good time for textile, and cements her status. 8 medals — ridiculous. 4 world titles in one event — a rare accomplishment by any swimmer… Read more »

Reply to  mcgillrocks
1 year ago

Not disagreeing but “textile” is a moving target. The current suits are the best textile suits ever – the best outside of 2008/09 by some way.

Reply to  Tim
1 year ago

Certainly agreed. As a whole, the world is faster now than in 2008, even though those suits are not textile and current ones are.

It’s more of an indicator of progression. Times from 1990 and today aren’t directly comparable because they’re both “textile.” The supersuits were a discontinuity. Swimming gets faster all the time, but in 2008-9 it jumped up suddenly and dramatically, then returned to the baseline in 2010, and in many ways/events we still haven’t caught up to 2009 yet.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Rafael
1 year ago

Definitely best looking 200 freestyler ever.

1 year ago

The correct time should be 1:54.22

1 year ago

This is remarkably impressive.

Reply to  Monteswim
1 year ago

Those commenting on the longevity of Pellegrini’s career and success should not overlook that for nearly a decade she lived with Filippo Magnini, a now-banned swimmer who was found to be involved with PEDs.

Reply to  UK OK
1 year ago

So basically you’re saying he was spiking her breakfast with PEDs?

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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