Manaudou Comments on Decision to Move to Italy

CANET, France, May 8. IF you listen to her words, you have to wonder where her heads stands with the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing a little more than a year away. Certainly, it seems she's more concerned with her personal life than maintaining the high level of success that has made her the world-record holder in the 200 and 400 freestyles.

Indeed, Frenchwoman Laure Manaudou is leaving coach Philippe Lucas and will be moving to Italy to live with her boyfriend, Luca Marin. Manaudou, fresh off victories at the World Championships in the 200 and 400 free events in Melbourne, spoke to Gazetta dello Sport about her decision. Her comments, picked up by numerous news outlets, including, clearly indicate that her focus doesn't currently revolve around swimming.

"My choice is based on love," she told Gazzetta dello Sport. "Between Italy and France, I have chosen Luca, the love of my life. I want to live with him and have a baby. There is no doubt in my mind, I will not return to France. I want to stay in Italy and I am ready to remain in Turin."

Lucas has molded Manaudou into one of the premier swimmers in the world, perhaps No. 1 among female competitors. At the World Champs, he was a constant presence on the deck, never far from his former pupil. Now, Manaudou is searching for another coach and it will be interesting to see if she can locate the same magic she's known under Lucas. For that to happen, she'll need to adjust her focus to the pool.

Marin, the bronze medalist at the World Champs in the 400 individual medley, is coached by Alberto Castagnetti, but the coach stated that he was not looking to begin guiding Manaudou as long as she remains a French citizen. Although she is moving to Italy, nothing has been said about changing her nationality.

"Our federation categorically wants to avoid any problems with the French federation and I am totally in agreement with that," he said. "If on the other hand Manaudou takes Italian nationality, that would be different though."