Federica Pellegrini is an extraordinary swimmer. She was born in Mirano on August 5, 1988. It was her mother who started her swimming in 1995. In 2002 she climbed the podium for the first time with third place in the 200m freestyle with a time of 2’03 “82. In 2004 she participated in the Olympic Games and won the silver medal in the 200m freestyle with a time of 1’58 “22. She participated in the Olympic Games at the age of only 16 and this makes her the youngest Italian athlete to climb on an individual Olympic podium.
She has won 129 gold medals in the Italian championships, 7 in the European championships, 6 in the world championships, and 1 at the Olympics. She was summoned to the 2021 Olympic Games at the age of 32. In Italy, we have a great champion. She has always called this discipline “home.” Although she is a very good swimmer, she is afraid of the sea, she does not feel at ease . We had the honor to meet her for a private interview.
Federica, at what age did you start swimming?
I started to swim to 7 years, when usually you start to read and write, I was already a very good swimmer!
How did you do with school when you went to the races?
If you practice sport at a competitive level you have to organize the day to the second. Some professors I met in my school years created some problems for me: setting the tests on Monday because they knew that I was competing on Sunday. But let’s say 90% of teachers understand you. I remember that in middle school I trained in the morning before entering school and then immediately afterward in the afternoon as soon as I finished my homework. It was hard.
What emotions do you feel on the starting block?
I thought the emotions would over time subside. But no: the legs are still shaking, the heart begins to beat faster. Maybe, over time, you learn to manage the tension, but they are beautiful sensations that you feel only thanks to the adrenaline of the pre-race.
What do you think about before and during the race?
I think of all the technical gestures that I will have to make: the start, the turns, the swim, the finish. I imagine the whole race in my head. In the race, I try to be very concentrated.
You are a very good swimmer, is it true that you are afraid of the sea?
Yes, it’s very strange but I’m afraid of the sea. Many swimmers have this phobia: we are used to swimming in crystal clear water seeing the bottom of the pool. At sea, we lose our reference points.
Did you expect to become so famous and make it to the Olympics?
It is a goal that everyone dreams of and hopes to reach, as a child it seemed too difficult but by not giving up and continuing to fight I succeeded.
Are you satisfied with the results obtained?
Well, you can always give more, but yes, I am quite satisfied. I was lucky enough to achieve important results, but I also took some beating. Sport is like this: you win and lose. When you like what you do, getting up is easy, maybe you feel bad at the moment but then you want to go back into the water to show what you can do.
Will you participate in the Olympics again, do you think you will be able to get on the podium?
Let’s say it’s a bit complicated to win at 32, but everything is possible in life. As my sport taught me, I don’t give up and I still believe in it.
Thank you for taking this time, you have been very kind.
You’re welcome, it was a pleasure.