The two-time world junior champion of 2017 is getting ready to be in top form for the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital. Last week she obtained four qualifying time standards set by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to be eligible to compete at Buenos Aires 2018.
“Buenos Aires 2018 is my big goal. That’s what we’re training for. All the planning with my coach is based on getting to the Youth Olympics in the best condition.”
Delfina Pignatiello entered the aquatic centre for the National Swim Championship in Buenos Aires - a youth tournament for Argentine athletes - with an unshakable concentration level. She then went on to secure the winning tickets for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games by achieving the qualifying standards.
After an unforgettable 2017, the 17-year-old swimmer now has the next competition that she hopes to shine at marked on her calendar. “Buenos Aires 2018 is my big goal. That’s what we’re training for. All the planning with my coach is based on getting to the Youth Olympics in the best condition,” said the San Isidro native, a city in the province of Buenos Aires.
Why was 2017 a breakthrough year for Delfina? At the World Junior Swimming Championships in Indianapolis, in the United States, she finished as the world’s best in the 800 metre freestyle with a new South American record. In the 1500 metre freestyle she won with more than a 30 second difference from the second place swimmer. When she got out of the pool and realised that she had done it in less than 16 minutes - her time was 15:59:51 – she couldn´t believe it: she had the Championship’s record time.
Only three swimmers have managed to get under 16 minutes for this race before turning 18, a ranking headed by the multiple Olympic medalist Katie Ledecky, from the United States.
Swimming has been part of Pignatiello’s life since she took her first steps. “I started swimming when I was a baby. My mom taught me, she’s a swimming instructor,” the young athlete told buenosaires2018.com.
At age 12, Pignatiello started her impressive journey in the water. Her story began at the San Isidro Municipal Club, her daily training place. It was there that Juan Carlos Martin became something more than just her swim instructor. Known throughout the Argentine swimming world as “The Spaniard,” Martin set the training foundation from which to lead the naturally talented girl to international stardom.
“He always says that swimming is for intelligent people. This means that you need to be disciplined and responsible to train and compete,” explained the athlete, who won eight medals at the Santiago 2017 South American Youth Games. “The other thing he always says to me is that medals are won between Monday and Friday and Saturday is when they go to pick them up. This made me understand that you have to train hard during the week to have success during the competition,” she added.
In the first official competition of 2018 Pignatiello got one step closer to participating at the Youth Olympic Games. During the National Swim Championship, a tournament for young Argentine swimmers aged 16 to 21, she won the 200 metre freestyle with a time of 2:00:61, beating her personal record, in addition to the 400 metre freestyle, with a time of 4:09:85. What’s more, she led the 100 metre freestyle with 56:88 and the 800 metre freestyle with a time of 8:38:82. In total she won four of the ‘A’ qualifying standards required by the International Swimming Federation to compete at Buenos Aires 2018.
It will soon be time for Pignatiello to continue her work, but in just a few weeks she’ll have a well-deserved vacation. It will be time to relax before resuming her daily training routine with her coach. “I get up at 4.50 in the morning and we train from 5.30 to 7.30. In the afternoon, I complete my second training session,” she described.
Almost 4,000 young athletes from 206 countries will arrive in Buenos Aires to compete in the Youth Olympic Games that will be held from October 6 – 18.
For Pignatiello, to compete at home will mean experiencing something that she will never forget: “I’m very proud that the Games are taking place in Buenos Aires. We’re going to have lots of people cheering for us, something that’s going to help all the (Argentine) athletes a lot.”