Swimming is always a premier event in the Summer Olympics.
The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics (scheduled to begin in July 2021) will be no exception.
Returning to the pool to bring home more hardware will be 24 year old Simone Manuel.
Simone Manuel: What You Need To Know
- Persistence pays off.
Simone Manuel swam at the 2012 Olympic Trials and did not place in the top 15 in any event.
- Manuel came back four years later and won four medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
- Her specialty is freestyle sprint events.
- Manuel actually tied for gold with Canadian Penny Oleksiak in the 100 meter freestyle in 2016; both set an Olympic record of 52.70 seconds.
- Though she did not swim on her high school team, she swam on the NCAA Champion Stanford swim teams in 2017 and 2018 before turning pro in 2018.
- Manuel is a collegiate, world, and Olympic champion.
— Olympics (@Olympics) August 12, 2016
The College Years
Simone Manuel enjoyed swimming at Stanford.
When ESPN caught up with her during her final season at Stanford, she said:
“I get a lot out of college swimming. When you’re on a college team, you’re immersed with your teammates, you train with them, you try to score points for yourself but also for them. It’s a close-knit community and it’s something I’m proud to be a part of. It was kind of easy going back to the college atmosphere where I could go to dual meets and swim at Pac-12s and have 21 girls cheering for me. It’s a different atmosphere that I wasn’t ready to leave.”
No one knows if Manuel will continue to compete in 2022 or if this is her final Olympics.
Simone Manuel has never been shy about lending her voice to how African American and female athletes are covered.
She wants to inspire young girls, and she is well on her way to doing so with a new media venture formed with other prominent female athletes.
Female athletes are under covered.
— Talya Minsberg (@tminsberg) March 2, 2021
An excerpt of the statement announcing TOGETHXR said:
“There’s never been a place dedicated to her story. A place that saw her in a way others did not. A place that heard her and elevated her voice. And gave her shoulders to stand on. We got tired of waiting for someone to build it. So we did.”
Back In Competition
— NBC OlympicTalk (@NBCOlympicTalk) March 5, 2021
Simone Manuel and her training partner (fellow Olympian and Stanford Cardinal) Katie Ledecky just returned to competition in San Antonio, Texas in early March 2021 for the first time in a year.
Manuel won the 100m freestyle in 54.62 seconds.
Both Manuel and Ledecky trained in a backyard swimming pool for three months last year when everything closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Then, they chose to skip traveling for meets and train at their alma mater Stanford when the facilities opened up.
Manuel talked about returning to competition.
“Different type of atmosphere. Different type of jitters. Whether I win or lose, I’m pretty critical of my swims. I would have liked to see something a little bit better than that [time].”
Simone Manuel’s preparations will continue leading up to the USA Olympic Team trials in Omaha, Nebraska.
Because of the pandemic, the trials are scheduled in two waves; first is from June 4-7, 2021 and second is from June 13-20, 2021.