Simone Manuel, the defending NCAA Champion in the 50 and 100 yard freestyles (including the fastest swimmer in history in the latter of those races) has decided to sit out the 2015-2016 NCAA season.
Manuel was ominously absent from the team’s first two meets, resounding in-conference wins over Washington State and Utah, leading to speculation that she might choose to sit out the season in preparation for the 2016 Olympic Trials.
The news was confirmed today by Stanford head coach Greg Meehan. This makes her the third favorite for an NCAA Champion who won’t race this season for the Cardinal – World Record holder Katie Ledecky already announced that she was deferring her freshman year at Stanford to remain on the east coast and prepare for the Olympics with Bruce Gemmell; and diver Kassidy Cook has decided the same (2nd in the 1-meter at NCAA’s last year).
“After careful thought and discussion with my coaches, I have decided to redshirt and shift my focus to long-course training and competition for the upcoming year,” said Manuel, who was also named a Scholar All-America first team selection last season. “I am still training with Stanford University and will continue my journey academically. I am fortunate and grateful to be a part of the Stanford family, as we share and support each other on our journeys.”
Manuel finished the 2014-2015 NCAA season as the fastest swimmer in history in the 100 yard free (46.09) and very close to the same honor in the 50 yard free (21.32). Including relays, she earned 4 NCAA Championships, 7 All-American Honors, and 57 individual points: second-most only behind Missy Franklin at the NCAA Championships in Greensboro.
The result will be an uphill battle for the Cardinal toward a possible 2016 title – though defending champions Cal lost two of the very small handful of counter-punches to Manuel, after Abbey Weitzeil deferred her freshman year and Missy Franklin turned pro following two years of college swimming.
As valuable as Manuel is for Stanford, she could be equally as important to Team USA’s success in long course at the Olympic Games. She finished the summer tied for 10th in the world in the 100 meter free (53.81), which made her the second-fastest American behind the aforementioned Franklin.
View Top 36»
NED 52.69 04/04 2 Cate
AUS 52.69 04/08 4 Sarah
SWE 52.70 08/07 5 Ranomi
NED 53.17 08/07 6 Emma
AUS 53.32 05/23 7 Melanie
AUS 53.50 04/08 8 Brittany
AUS 53.66 04/08 9 Missy
USA 53.68 08/02 10 Siobhan-Marie
GBR 53.81 04/14 10 Simone
USA 53.81 08/06 10 Aliaksandra
BLR 53.81 07/15 13 Chantal
CAN 53.83 07/14 14 Natalie
USA 53.85 07/14 14 Sandrine
CAN 53.85 08/02
She was also the 8th-best 50 freestyler in the world, and the #1-ranked American. She swam both races at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
“This is a great decision for Simone,” said Meehan, who guided Stanford to a third-place finish at NCAA Championships in 2015. “Continuing her academics, training and social life here at Stanford allows for consistency over the next eight-plus months leading up to the Olympic Trials. Simone will still benefit from training in the team environment and our program will certainly benefit from her presence. Our lineup looks slightly different without Simone and sophomore All-American diver Kassidy Cook (also redshirting the 2015-16 season), but I’m excited about the opportunities for our team. So far, I’ve been really impressed with how they are taking advantage of these opportunities.”
Stanford began the season ranked 2nd in the initial 2015-2016 SwimSwam Power Rankings before news of Manuel’s redshirt. They should still contend for a spot on the overall podium, though, as each of the top three teams in that ranking (Cal, Georgia, and now Stanford) will be without their top sprinter this season.
Manuel has been named to the 2015 Duel in the Pool team, where the best Americans will take on a team of European All-Stars. In 2013, a high school Manuel was the hero, bringing home a tie-breaking mixed medley relay for a win and a 1-point American margin.