HardCore Swim of the Week: Simone Manuel from Clutch City

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The HardCoreSwim of the week goes to the only obvious choice. American Simone Manuel anchored the Americans to victory in a spur-of-the-moment mixed-medley tie breaker on Saturday to close the 2013 Duel in the Pool. The young 17-year old was put in a position that a lot of swimmers with for more experience than her could have stumbled in. Not only is she relatively young, at 17, but she doesn’t even swim high school, so this big team-scoring focus is not a scenario that she is frequently in.

But Manuel is from Houston, which is nicknamed “Clutch City,” an old basketball reference. She renewed that nickname with new life after her impressive anchor on Saturday.

On any given Sunday, you’ll find the average sports fan flipping between FOX, ESPN, and CBS hoping to catch a glimpse of the exciting action in different NFL games.  But if you were able to skip by NBC, you were able to catch more action than a whole slew of NFL games could provide on a Sunday combined.  What sport on a Sunday, a day that traditionally belongs to the NFL, could possibly entertain a SportsCenter top ten worthy play?  That would be the wonderful sport of swimming.

Swimming isn’t usually in the sport spotlight unless it’s August during a summer Olympic year.  If Michael Phelps or Missy Franklin happen to grace the cover of magazine once in a while, a few may take notice.  When Ryan Lochte gets mobbed by a crazed teenage girl fan, (surprise, surprise), and injures his knee, he makes headlines for about 12 hours.  But when it comes to the true essence of the sport, the turns, the technique, the strokes, and the finishes, one has to search long and hard to find any coverage.  But one Sunday, one NFL, ESPN top ten play filled, even NBA action Sunday, the sport of swimming proved to get the excitement flowing for sports fans everywhere.

The 2013 Duel in the Pool didn’t feature a slew of Olympic Gold medalists or World Record holders.  Rowdy Gaines’ bursts of enthusiasm weren’t heard throughout races and no major public faces were seen in the crowd.  But there was one thing this meet had that others lacked: adversity.  The US National team is one group that usually finds themselves on top; on top of the podium, in the top of the rankings, on top of the world.  However, in the 2013 Duel in Pool, the Americans got a little too familiar with the bottom.  They were behind the Euros throughout the entire meet until the very last event.  Going into the men’s 400 free relay, the quartet needed a win in order to keep even in the meet.  The US relay followed through with a victory and forced the meet into a relay tie breaker.

The meet came down to 200 meters, four swimmers, and .20 tenths of a second.  With the squad of Eugene GodsoeKevin CordesClaire Donahue, and Simone Manuel, the US touched the wall first.  With the crowd erupting as if they were celebrating a game winning three pointer or a successful hail mary play to the end zone, the sport of swimming became a thriller.  And even though swimming may not be able to keep up this constant excitement, the Duel in Pool made a statement in the sports world: swimming can get your blood pumping too.


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  1. bobo gigi says:

    Well written Mr Keith.
    And as a former Houston Rockets coach said, “Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion!”

    Video of the relay tie-breaker

  2. SwimFanFinland says:

    How the prize money was eventually distributed among swimmers and teams?


    Clutch relay anchor from Simone Manuel ! fabulous swim to keep the europeans at bay . She will probably have a fantastic 2014 year ( Us trials , some big meets like Pan Pacs or Short Course WC ) to show her incredible speed and tachnique . Very promising for the Us in sprint towards Rio .

  4. T Hill says:

    Awesome job by the USA team & 4 great legs of this relay. As we’ve seen over the years Team unity/chemistry are key & our younger swimmers like Simone & others learn a great deal from experiences like this. Much like swim offs, folks love watching an race with known outcome. Nice job USA staff & coaches who help get them ready.

  5. Nance says:

    Another excellent article! The down to the wire thrill of this event hopefully brings attention to the TV airing potential in 2014, and a better coordinated scheduling process. Love those flaming bagpipes! Merry Christmas!

  6. TJ says:

    I think more national level duel meets like this are what the sport needs to get more mainstream.

  7. John Doe says:

    Just out of curiosity,

    Anyone know FINA’s rule regarding relay swimmers remaining in the pool once completing their respective legs? I noticed that two of the European All-Stars stayed in the pool, albeit in a “dead lane” during the competition.

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About Christine Wixted

Christine Wixted Swimming

Hailing from the Mile High city of Denver, CO, Christine Wixted is a current senior at Duke University. Her swimming... Read More »