Simone Manuel Upsets for 100 Free Gold from Lane One in American Record Time


If there’s one thing that Simone Manuel of the United States has taught us, it’s that it all matters what you can do in the final.

Despite being out-split on relays this weekend, and barely slipping into the 100 free final tonight in seventh after semifinals, Manuel charged from lane one for the world title. Her time of 52.04 won the gold by nearly four tenths of a second, and it erased her own American record time of 52.27 from the 2017 Worlds.

This race is obviously reminiscent of her upset win at those 2017 Worlds, where she upset Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström. The Swede had just set the World Record at 51.71 leading off the 4×100 free relay earlier in the meet, and out of lane five, Manuel was out in 25.21 (behind only Sjöström and Denmark’s Pernille Blume) but came home in a blistering 27.06 to hit the wall at 52.27, just four hundredths ahead of Sjöström.

This was also a very different swim from her 2017 performance. Yes, she upset the field. But this time, she did so out of lane one, and she seriously attacked the race, screaming out to a 24.81 first 50 and holding it down on the back half (27.23) to secure the win over Australia’s Cate Campbell (52.43) and Sjöström (52.46). We’ve grown accustomed to Manuel’s lethal back half, making up ground and making her moves over the final 20 meters or so — this time, she left it all on the line from the start, and it paid off.

Manuel is only the second woman in history to win back-to-back World titles in the 100 free. This hasn’t happened since East Germany’s Kornelia Ender won in both 1973 and 1975. Meanwhile, Sjöström has medaled in the last four editions of this event, taking silver in 2013, 2015, and 2017 and bronze this year.

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A true champion showing that all you need to have is a lane in the final and the heart of a lion and you have a chance

Justin Thompson

It’s both a surprise, but not really. Amazing swim considering being out split earlier, barely making it into the final, and having the mental toughness to move past that and drop the hammer from the outside lane.🇺🇲💪


Wow! Way to go Simone!


That was an AWESOME SWIM!


As a european I was willing Sarah but hats off for a fantastic win

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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