Federica Pellegrini

Nicknamed “Italy’s national darling,” Federica Pelligrini, has not only just wooed her home country, but has attracted international attention with her record-smashing swimming feats.

A native of Mirano in the Venice province, Federica now holds the world record for both the 200- and 400-meter freestyle in women’s swimming. She is the first Italian swimmer to become an Olympic champion as well as the first to set multiple world records.

At 16, she debuted her record-breaking speed at the 2004 Olympics, Athens. At 20, she broke the 200-meter freestyle record at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. This year, she went on to 400m freestyle at the 2009 Mediterranean Games in Pescara.

If her athletic prowess weren’t enough, her beauty has captured the world’s eye. She most recently appeared in a glamourous, high-style photos in Vanity Fair, her hair teased high and her face lavishly made-up, a stunning contrast to her sweet, sporty appearance.