Viva Viola Valli

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Viola Valli is one of the most successful female open water swimmers in history who has yet to be recognized by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

At the top of her game around the turn of the 21st century, Valli won golds, silvers, and bronzes at the FINA world championship events, from Hawaii to Egypt. She fought her way in my relentless windmill style to become a world champion at 5 km, 10 km and 25 km.

At the 2003 FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, Valli not only won 2 gold medals in the 5 km and 10 km within a 3-day period, she beat two International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmers (Edith van Dijk and Angela Maurer) along the way.

In addition to her 11 Italian national championship titles from 400 meters to 25 km, her international career progression was as follows:

1997 Mediterranean Games in Italy: 400m bronze, 800m bronze
1998 Latin Cup in Portugal: 800m bronze
1999 Latin Cup in Mexico: 800m bronze
1999 European Championship in Turkey: 5 km silver
2000 European Championship in Finland: 5 km 13th, 25 km fourth
2000 FINA World Open Water Swimming Championship in Hawaii: 5 km team gold, 25 km solo/team silvers, 5 km bronze
2001 FINA World Championship in Japan: 5 km gold, 25 km gold
2002 FINA World Open Water Swimming Championship in Egypt: 5 km solo/team gold, 10 km team gold, 10 km silver

2002 European Championship in Germany: 5 km gold, 10 km 11th
2003 FINA World Championship in Spain: 5 km gold, 10 km gold

She received the Cavaliere Ordine al merito della Repubblica Italiana (Knight Order of Merit of the Italian Republic) in 2003.

In 2005 upon her official retirement at the age of 32, she wrote, “I have thought deeply and I have no more doubts. I leave as a winner with the still fresh memories. I defended my world championships in 2003. I will miss in sea battles, the long swim, but I feel satisfied and ready to turn the page.”

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