Remember Me As The Best 200m Swimmer, Says Federica Pellegrini, Queen Of Candidates

Federica Pellegrini (ITA) by Patrick B. Kraemer

The last two days have witnessed a duel-venue meet in Italy, the Aspria Swimming Cup, day 1 in Milan, day 2 in Turin. Promoting the event, Federica Pellegrini said: “I would like to be remembered as the best 200m swimmer in history”; we take a look at some of the key candidates

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The last two days have witnessed a duel-venue meet in Italy, the Aspria Swimming Cup, day 1 in Milan, day 2 in Turin. Promoting the event, Federica Pellegrini said: “I would like to be remembered as the best 200m swimmer in history”; we take a look at some of the key candidates

Comments

Clive Rushton

I just love these “*” :)))

Clive Rushton

“… the peanut farmer in charge of her country decided that the Soviet Union needed reminding that it ought not to invade the sovereign territory of others… ”

One of the (maybe the) greatest sporting crimes of the last century.

Craig Lord

No 2 Clive… nothing surpasses 14:25 and the harm it caused on all sides (and couple it with other doping, China Crisis and all).

Clive Rushton

Me again!

Pellegrini … Greatest ever? Hmmm…. The shiny suits and the two suits lend, not quite a dark, but definitely a murky side to the achievements.

Clive Rushton

Craig. Yes, of course. How on earth could I have re-ordered that!!!

Craig Lord

Yes, there’s a taint of sorts there, Clive, the world record and titles count reflecting something she couldn’t avoid, along with others, but benefitted from, nonetheless. I’m careful not to place my personable vote because I also think it difficult to compare eras and come down in favour of one swimmer (unless its very obvious, of course), shiny suits, the frequency of world titles these days among factors that make the exercise one with distinct fault lines running through it…

aswimfan

I love love love this article!

By the way, Pellegrini broke her first WR in textile, as she was the swimmer who broke van Almsick’s WR in 2007 Melbourne semi final.

Craig Lord

Thanks aswimfan… that 1st world record is mentioned in the section on Manaudou

felixdangerpants

Suity toot toots or not she still obliterated everyone & everything & I think she will be right in it at Kazan.

Craig Lord

That kind of view on suits, in general, misses the point, fdp, as I’m sure you know 🙂 She was fifth at London 2012 and her textile best is 7th all-time, part of the picture, too. She’s the most decorated and one of the best 200 swimmers ever; which is pretty special. She’s known how to win and how to be in the mix come the crunch (and been very gracious in defeat, too). A terrific career.

TommyL

I remember reading an article about Fede after Rome 2009 where she stated something like…”Yes, I think I am the best. I thought I was the best even before Rome.”

Shiny suits. I am glad they are gone although I have to admit the “plastic fantastic” stuff dragged me back to the sport after 5 years and the results were astonishing. I may share my story one day.

Craig Lord

Please do, TommyL; some very interesting things were learned on several levels. As for astonishing results, I feel very similar when I put fins on for my swim these days … I can keep going much longer and my technique holds up very nicely 🙂 but they’d have no place in the race, of course 🙂 … and neither would I 🙂

TommyL

As a 22yrs old I swam 23,44 and 51,13 in freestyle (SCM) in 2004. That was in an old full body textile suit so possibly I would be a little bit faster in briefs. At that point I thought my swimming days were over. I then completed my degree and decided to spend some time in GBR.
I decided to return home in 2009 and resumed my training in August. My goal was to break 23 in 50 free SCM. My first competition was in October and I almost hit my target in 23.15. In November I swam 22,86 and as I had 3 months of training under my belt I decided to try to break the 50s in 100 free. I swam a time trial in December trying to break the then NR 49,62 and my time was 50,23.
Thank you for reading :).

Jim C

With a fastest in textile 1:53.61 to become the current Olympic champion, I think you need to at least mention Allison Schmitt.

felixdangerpants

Agree Jim C, that and Woodhead’s 1:58 wr as a 14 year old in my opinion are the best best performances ever in that race.

Philip Johnson

Not one mention of of the current Olympic champ and textile record holder. Wow.

Jim C

Laure Manaudou’s first WRs were in SCM at 1500, 800, and 400. Swimmers like Shane Gould were from another era, but Manaudou is far more recent, and wht she did could be a precedent for what Ledecky might do from 1500 down to 200.

Dee

Philip,

Schmitt is a superb swimmer, but should she be on this list? I think not, personally.

My choice would be Pellegrini, possibly because she is ‘my era’, the only swimmer in the frame that is more than ‘stats & figures’ to me. Gold this year in Kazan, I’d love to see that for Federica – Surely that would assert her as an undisputed great? Her longevity is remarkable.

Craig Lord

One swim does not many summers make, JimC. Allison has barely made a team since, in an era where all her rivals are stacking up time and time again. If she makes it to Rio and aces the podium, she enters the realm of possibility. Right now, she doesn’t make my list as ‘best’ though the ages, which is what Pellegrini was talking about.

Craig Lord

felixdp, La Fede was not talking about the best performance, she was talking about being the best through the ages. Different thing.

Craig Lord

One swim, Philip, see replies to Jim C and felixdp. I have added a note – for information, not as an additional candidate in the context of the article – in brackets to say of the London podium: ‘one topped by what has so far turned out to be a stunning one-off swim from Allison Schmitt, 1:53.61, best in textile ever, the second best a 1:54.66 from Camille Muffat, with Femke Heemskerk on 1:54.68 in third as the only one in the top three who will be in Kazan at world titles this August’

mcgillrocks

Schmitt just doesn’t have the overall resume that the other do.

Her major titles include the Olympic gold, a Pan Pacs gold, and a SC worlds title.

In world-level finals, she has only two medals, out of what could conceivably be 5. She also has only one season of really being extraordinarily fast.

In 2012 she obviously threw down an amazing swim. One that dominated the field by nearly 2 seconds and is still the TWR by a large margin. While this swim might not get the credit it deserves, I don’t think one or two swims warrants being the greatest of all time in an event.

luigi

There are two things to be said about Pellegrini:
1) you can’t fault her for peaking when the suits farce was on. Her history between 2004 and 2008 shows that she would have dominated anyway.
2) Yes she doesn’t have the best times in textile, but she is almost 27 now, which means that she has kept on swimming until an age where most mid-distance female swimmers have disappeared from the radar. Of course the younger lionesses have caught up with her, but who else among female swimmers is still racing 200s at 27, besides Femke Heemskerk?

aswimfan

As I have written in my comments in another article as explanation to another poster, Yozhik, Pellegrini is in my top three greatest ever 200 free female swimmer.

And yes, I truly believe she would have broken several textile world record between 2008-2009 had there not been shiny suit.

I am quite pessimistic of her Kazan medal chances, but I do hope she will still give the current top 200 free girls a run for their money just like she did in 2013 Barcelona.

Philip Johnson

No, I don’t think Schmitt is the one of the best 200 swimmers of all time. She has severely disappointed since London after all. Just thought she should at least get a mention.

Craig Lord

Luigi, there are many things to say about Pellegrini, not just two 🙂
Your first point I have made on many occasions but the second part of the sentence needs a ‘probably’; the truth is, we will never know. The second point: she was not 27 between 2010 and 2013, the latter the year she clocked her textile best – beyond the shot at the Olympic podium in peak years that did not go her way. There are quite a few 25 and overs swimming swift 200s these days, in fact: Hosszu, Barratt, Boyle, Costa, Wright/Schlanger/ and Prinsloo, for e.g…. all under 1:57.2 and born in the late 1980s

Craig Lord

She’s now had several mentions, Philip – and we’re all aware of her achievements 🙂

luigi

Craig, it’s not just a question of competing, but of competing for medal. Federica won a silver medal in a WC at 25 (and a gold European medal at 26). 25 is already on the wrong side of the hill for a female swimmer specialising in non-sprint events, if we are talking about medal contenders. Federica and Femke are the two only real outliers (and Femke only on paper). Let’s see what the others you mentioned are capable of doing.

Craig Lord

I appreciate that, Luigi, but some of those mentioned were also big podium placers around 25, in over events and remain podium prospects, of course. I’m not playing down FP’s achievements; I just don’t think they need playing up and justifying as something more than the special status already attached to this swimmer: most decorated and one of the best ever … and with a stake on a claim to that status that will always be open to question – ‘best’ – along the spectrum of time and conditions and events that are not static and are almost impossible to compare

luigi

I didn’t mean to play things up to support her claim. I don’t know who the best ever is, or will be. I just think that longevity is maybe Federica’s biggest achievement, and one much overlooked. I am always intrigued by swimmers who can swim at top level past their prime, not just her. When Anthony Ervin came back in 2012, I was his biggest fan.

Craig Lord

Then we’re on the same page, Luigi, her longevity oft referred to at this place on the big occasions and in features in between.

aswimfan

IMHO, in the conversation of greatest female 200 freestylers, Allison Schmitt deserves a mention in the same manner of mention for Giorgio Lambertti for men.

Giorgio Lambertti scored the iconic 1:46.69 in 1989, which lasted for 10 years until Hackett hacked it in 1999, and he also won Worlds gold, but that’s it. Lambertti was great for two seasons, but certainly is not in the top tier of greatest male 200 freestylers which, imho, is occupied by Weissmuller, Schollander, and Thorpe.

aswimfan

I’d like to see Sjostrom swimming 200 free in a meet where she is fully tapered and not having to swim too many events.
I think she can do 55.50-58.00 for 1:53.50

roy

yeah aswimfan I agree with you, Sarah sjostrom has the closing speed to clock a 1:53 but she has to pace it to perfection.

mcgillrocks

Phelps is 100% up there with the all-time greats in the 200 free. In terms of medals, He’s a double world champ and has two silvers. He’s also one of a few men to have two Olympic medals, one gold obviously.

In terms of time, he threw down two of the greatest performances in history. The 1:43 from ’07 was naturally the world record and is still the 2nd fastest in textile ever. Phelps won the race by the largest ever margin of victory at worlds (2.42). His 1:42 Olympic record can’t be quite taken at face value due to the suits, but it was the largest margin of victory ever in an Olympic final. I’d estimate it around a 1:43.9 in textile, meaning Phelps would be the only man ever with two 1:43’s.

Phelps has to be in that conversation in a big way.

aswimfan

IMO, Phelps is in the second tier, along with Spitz, Furniss, Gross and VDH.

luigi

Even though your reasoning is sound, Mcgillrocks, I can’t bring myself to consider Phelps in the same tier as, say, Thorpe. I think he is a butterflier and IMer who “hijacked” the 200 free thanks mostly to his underwaters and dolphin kick. I never liked his freestyle and I think that in terms of speed over the water he can’t compare to either Thorpie or VDH. Sure, if they let freestyle be freestyle in the strictest sense, and allowed people to swim under or over the water for as long as they please and with every technique, we would have to reconsider who the best are. I know this is a grey area and a much debatable matter …

Billabong

Great article Craig. Federica is pure class, and If she was American, she would be recognised more widely than she is today. I saw her in Rome in 2009, and she was peerless.

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