She spoke as an ambassador for the USA Swimming Foundation, which will provide free swim lessons to every student at a camp in June 2019, according to Manuel’s Instagram post.
The I Promise School opened last summer and currently serves students in grades three and four, with plans to teach grades one through eight by 2022. The school is specifically designed to cater to at-risk youth in the Akron area and features 8-5 school days with a shortened summer vacation. There are also family-oriented programs, including GED courses for parents.
Since she turned professional last year, Manuel has been vocal about her desire to lower the high drowning rate within the black population through her work with the Foundation, which provides swim lessons to communities nationwide – regardless of students’ ability to pay.
Back in 2016 when she became the first black American woman to win swimming gold, James posted on Instagram to congratulate both Manuel and gold-medal gymnast Simone Biles and called them “truly inspiring especially for so many young black girls.”
Now, all three athletes – James, Biles, and Manuel – are a part of Nike’s 30th-anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. Manuel’s most recent spot reads: “Be the first champion like you, then make sure you’re not the last.”