The Divine Last Show

This short article originally appeared in the Spring 2021 problem of SwimSwam Magazine (subscribe right here). In honor of Federica Pellegrini swimming in her previous competitiveness in Italy prior to retirement, here’s a tribute write-up on the Italian superstar.

At the Tokyo Olympics, the spotlight will shine a tiny brighter. 5 a long time have handed since the final Olympics. There will be a new era of athletes who will have the five circles on their uniforms for the initial time. There will also be the technology suffering from their final time in the Olympics, the final time in an worldwide level of competition, the very last pool, and, hopefully, the final medal. The particular person who ideal represents this technology will put on the uniform of Italy and will be Federica Pellegrini.

Each individual show has a beginning, a most important scene, and an ending. The curtain arrives down, and the spectator is still left with conflicting thoughts only when he has processed them will he be equipped to give them a identify.

This is the present of swimming, and the major actress is Federica Pellegrini.

Pellegrini is not only the emblem of swimming in Italy. She is costume, she is vogue, she is type. In the 2000s, teenagers imitated her haircut — “I want hair like Federica Pellegrini,” they would say, and just about every Italian hairdresser realized accurately what to do.

When you are in Italy, “sport” is “soccer.” But even though you can rarely come across a man or woman on the avenue who can explain to you what the Sette Colli Trophy is, definitely anywhere in Italy they will tell you who Federica Pellegrini is.

That first Olympic podium, in Athens in 2004, welcomed a girl with extensive eyes and nails painted black. She experienced arrived for her 1st Olympic Online games times following turning 16.

In the semifinals of the 200-meter freestyle, she established a national history of 1:58.02. In the remaining, she compensated for her inexperience. From the outside the house lane, Romania’s Camelia Potec touched first, and Pellegrini closed second in 1:58.22.

30-two years had passed due to the fact the previous Olympic medal in swimming for an Italian female, Novella Calligaris in 1972.

And this was continue to just a taste of what the Lioness of Verona would eventually suggest to the activity in her nation.

She arrived in Beijing in 2008 with the mentor who experienced been accompanying her for two a long time, Alberto Castagnetti, her mentor, information, and light-weight in the evening sky.

Following placing only fifth in the 400 meters, she achieved the last of the 200 meters. She experienced snatched the globe history from the French swimmer Laure Manaudou, her archrival, in the heats.

In the ultimate, she gained gold with an additional world history, 1:54.82.

4 a long time go, and everyday living places in front of Federica’s route what is however 1 of the most agonizing web pages of her heritage.

Two months soon after triumphing at the 2009 Planet Championships in Rome, with two gold medals and two earth records in the 200 and 400 freestyles, Federica misplaced Alberto Castagnetti. He died just after coronary heart medical procedures.

In 2010, she started instruction with the Frenchman Philippe Lucas, who introduced her to the 2011 Earth Championships to earn the double gold in the 200 and 400 freestyles.

In 2012, the hopes for medals at the London Olympics were being all on her. But that edition of the game titles will be remembered for the absence of swimming medals for Italy.

Immediately after London, Federica made the decision to consider a “sabbatical time.” But time did not cease, even for Federica, and four decades on came the Olympic Games in Brazil.

In Rio arrived the defeat that burns the most. In the closing of the 200 freestyle, she completed fourth and reported, “It’s sufficient.” The defeat will make her think about retiring.

But the to start with resignation is seldom the last a person. 1 year later, at the 2017 Entire world Championships in Budapest, she returned as the undisputed queen of the 200 freestyle, profitable an additional world championship. That was her very first Worlds title in six a long time, but it would not be her last.

It shut a circle — again to the gold, back to profitable. In Budapest, Federica desired to say goodbye to anyone and discover her way out of the pool.

A further 4 decades have passed. Federica is again and wants to shut her occupation at an Olympics.

She nevertheless keeps the ring that her mom, Cinzia, gave her just before her 1st Olympic Game titles and that she hasn’t raced without the need of because.

She retains that gesture each individual time prior to the whistle: hand to the head, hand to the heart.

Due to the fact you can be the greatest Italian winner who has at any time existed, but you need to normally recall who you are: The head and heart that will have to stroll with each other, even in the Olympic closing.

Of all the nicknames we could occur up with, we named her “The Divine.” And nevertheless Federica has her ft firmly planted on the floor.

Just about every time she explained that is plenty of, she understood it wasn’t goodbye.

She’s changed, and we’ve viewed a 15-12 months-outdated female grow to be a lady who at the dawn of her 33rd year will offer you the globe her latest performance.

Federica Pellegrini is the to start with and only Italian woman to gain an Olympic gold medal in swimming. She was the youngest Italian athlete to win an Olympic medal. She’s the most successful lady in the 200-meter freestyle, for which she has held the planet history since 2009. The only athlete to have won 8 consecutive medals in the identical race in eight distinctive editions of the Globe Championships in prolonged system.

When she enters a pool she drags at the rear of her a wave of screaming admirers. It is thanks to her that the swimming pools are filled with ladies who want to be like Pellegrini.

If The united states has a prior to and right after Michael Phelps, Italy will have a just before and soon after Federica Pellegrini.

“Fede” in Italian usually means “faith.” We had Fede, and we had faith in her in every single choice.

2021 will be remembered as the 12 months of Federica Pellegrini‘s last race.

We will be ready to convey to our little ones and grandchildren that we noticed her in the water.

Women and gentlemen, make yourselves snug, the finest present in swimming is on: The final show of the Divine Federica Pellegrini.