No not every post that I make is going to involve swimmers but sometimes the timing of the articles is simply out of my hands. This is one of them. NBC will be covering the women’s 400m freestyle qualifying Sunday afternoon from 4-6PM EDT. Somehow I don’t think they’ll cover this story. Then agaiin, it’s just juicy enough that it might get mentioned but it sure won’t be covered like I’m about to.
First a little bit about the antagonists. They are Federica Pellingrini of Italy and Laure Manaudou of France. Here they are in happier times.
Here’s a shot of them a couple of months earlier at the European Short Course Championships following the 400m freestyle championships.
Federica is a nineteen year old freestyle swimmer from Italy and holds the world’s record in this event. Federica also briefly held the world record in the 200m freestyle when she broke Manaudou’s mark in the semifinals of the 2007 World Championships 16 months ago. Manaudou came back to reclaim the world record when she won the finals (see picture above).
Pelligrini will be competing in Beijing in the 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, and 800m freestyle. Time Magazine listed Federica as #28 of the 100 Athletes to Watch feature story in their Beijing Olympic Preview issue.
Here are some Pelligrini photos of her in her element.
And some fewer clothes on.
And a little better view of the above shot.
Now the other half.
Manaudou is a 22 year French swimmer and is the current world record holder in the 400m freestyle (Short Course) and the 200m freestyle (Long Course). In the 2004 Athens Olympics she won Gold in the 400m freestyle, Silver in the 800m freestyle, and Bronze in the 200m backstroke, becoming only the second Frenchwomen to win three Olympic medals.
In Beijing, Laure will be competing in 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke, and today’s event the 400m freestyle. Despite being the world record holder and the #1 ranked woman at 200m Laure failed to make the French team at that distance, so the 400m freestyle will be the only event that both Manaudou and Pellegrini will compete.
Manaudou in the pool.
And now some shots out of the pool
And now a couple of shots where I’d like you to note Laure’s tattoos.
We have one on her back right shoulder and one way below her navel.
Now here’s where the drama starts. In March of 2007 Manaudou announced to the French public that she was leaving her French club and moving to Italy to be with her Italian boyfriend Luca Marin. As Laura phrased it.
“I am choosing l’amour,” said the 20-year-old swimmer, who is almost single-handedly carrying French hopes for the Beijing Olympics next year after winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the Athens Games in 2004. “I want to live with him and have a child with him.”
Here’s a video with lots of shots of Manadou and marin canoodling.
French official were irate, believing that Marin would marry her and have her switch nationalities and compete for Italy. Manaudou professed that she would remain French and swim for her home country in Beijing. But Manaudou was adamant that she would not abandon her French passport, saying: “I’m going to swim for France.”
The French officials needn’t have worried.
Less than a year later, Manaudou and Marin had a very public break up following the aforementioned European short course championship.
Later that day, these photos and a racy sex video (a vidcap is included in the photo gallery) appeared on the internet. I’ve password protected these raunchy (hint, hint) photos as a little extra protection from some innocent person stumbling across them.
Suspicion of posting the photos immediately focussed on Marin but he, naturally, denied any involvement.
Shortly, thereafter Luca Marin sought comfort in the arms of Pelligrini. Now I haven’t a clue what’s being said in this interview but it’s clear the two of them are in a relationship
Needless to say, Laure Manaudou wasn’t amused by these developments. She responded by performing poorly at the French national championships, struggling in the 400m freestyle but managing to finish third and thus qualify for the French team, then withdrawing from the 200m free.
The NY Times filed this story talking about how the Olympics will provide Manaudou with a chance to redeem herself. It will be interesting to see what happens when Manaudou and Pellegrini meet up in this event, presumably in the finals.