If you want to know what taking care of your physical and mental health looks like at the elite-level in swimming, five-time Olympic medalist Simone Manuel unpacks it here. Simone’s dominance in the pool, certainly as a big meet swimmer, was pure joy to witness. Breaking barriers and making history as the first black women to win Olympic gold was moving for fans worldwide. That historic run came to a halt at the last U.S. Olympic Trials when she hit a wall. Simone knew what was happening – she had already been diagnosed with overtraining syndrome a few months earlier – but it played out in dramatic fashion at U.S. Trials.
In this interview Simone details how she put the pieces back together. Her search for the right training environment is interesting by itself. As we all know, she’s with Bob Bowman’s pro group now, and Bob believes in honest work. How they’ve collaborated and slowly built back Simone’s capacity to train at a pro level is worth your time–especially if you’ve ever suffered through burnout.
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Opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the interviewed guests do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the hosts, SwimSwam Partners, LLC and/or SwimSwam advertising partners.
This is a Gold Medal Media production presented by SwimOutlet.com. Host Gold Medal Mel Stewart is a 3-time Olympic medalist and the co-founder of SwimSwam.com, a Swimming News website.
I swam for a mega miles team in the 70s..the team as a whole performed poorly at trials.personally, I had swollen glands, was sick all the time, and lost all speed..We called it a slump, and I retired after trials..couldn’t look at a pool. Two years later as a coach, I swam an intersquad meet and swam a great time. It changed my whole thought process about training.. I am curious, with blood draws so common now, why wasn’t her condition spotted sooner?
Is she training with bowman or Herbie? Is she at altitude with Bowman or at ASU? You really think she is on track physically to be at the top of her game?
I’m very happy she will be coming back she inspired me to start swimming.
Great to have her back. Take your time and go for ‘24
It’s fascinating hearing about her road back from overtraining and burnout!
After a ~30 year swimming career, I experienced mental burnout after USMS Nationals last spring for the first time and ended up taking about 9 months mostly out of the water. While the pressure on me wasn’t even remotely close to what Simone and others at that caliber deal with, but I just couldn’t keep forcing myself through it.
I swam 15-20 times between last May and this February, and when I did swim, it was one of the swimming-related physically hardest things I’ve done to force myself to get in the water and swim a full practice. I finally worked back up to a full training regimen this… Read more »
You describe it as mental burnout, which is 100% real, especially in our sport…but did you have an issue with your iron levels? I went through that– cost me 18 months before I felt normal again in the pool.
I don’t know if it was specifically iron levels, but I wasn’t consuming enough nutrients for the training I was doing.
For me it was a combination of overtraining, not enough nutrients to support that training base with all the physical issues that caused (issues with energy levels, recovery, etc), plus the mental strain of it all. It all came to a head at USMS Nationals and I physically and mentally had to take a break.
I seem to have gotten the nutrition and mental side of things ironed out, but I’m still comparatively quite out of swimming shape vs where I’m usually at at this point in the training cycle.
Your nervous system can get fried, and it’s life + swim trying to manage it all. Takes a long time to reset too and get it back to our baseline.
Super interesting that she’s not yet at a full practice load. Seems as if they are doing this slowly and carefully
…she can slowly ramp through the summer, building her base. Fall through holiday training and into Feb-March 2024 is the tough work. A lot of elites come back and get it done in that training window. Pablo Morales comes to mind. He had a great 1984, a tough ’88 and he returned in 92 strong. Pablo was out of shape August 1991.
If we had Simone back to peak form we’d have a much better chance against the Australians. I wish her the best.
Bob’s swimmers are performing. That’s a positive sign….
Didn’t know she was in Bob’s group till now. Figured she’d be with Herbie.
Even at Simone’s peak, there would be 2-3 Aussies ahead of her & that not including C1.
At her peak (16-19), she destroyed the Aussies. I’m still counting all of the excuses that were being made
You’re both equally wrong and both sound like children.
Manuel won one event in 2016, one in 2017, zero in 2018 (losing both to Cate Campbell) and two in 2019.
Manuel never destroyed anyone, but also there were not 3 Aussies ahead of her at her peak.
Quit being so sensitive Jimmy. No Aussie beat her at Olympics or Worlds at her peak. Pan Pacs is like the NIT but a race is a race so I’ll give you that. And Cate made every excuse in the book in 16 after Simone and Penny walked her down in the 100.
Manuel had the fastest time in the 100 free in 2019. That’s it. She’s never been ranked first in the world in any event other than that one time. I think you may need to revisit your definition of “destroyed”. The only thing she destroyed was her own ability to race.
I could care less about the fastest time. She walked away with the title in 16,17,19. No Aussie did those years.
This is laughable, oh you won the SuperBowl but you didn’t score the most points in a game this year. 😂
Every swimmer I hear says they would want an Olympic/Worlds gold over a world record but I guess that WR certificate is equal according to you.
Again, she walked down C1 in 16, SS in 17 and destroyed them from lane 1 in 19. That race wasn’t close. It was over at the 50
You know Cate Campbell has literally double the number of Olympic golds that Manuel has right? Plus 3 individual world records to Manuel’s zero.
Give us a call if she swims an internationally relevant time this decade. If she doesn’t I’m sure it won’t be her fault, it’ll be “overtraining syndrome” lol
You mean Cate has twice as many Olympic RELAY medals? Does Cate have any individual Olympic gold medals? Simone Manuel does. Manuel also has more individual World Championship Gold medals than Cate Campbell. Give us a call if Cate wins back to back to back individual international title this decade. Who cares about world records when you can’t back it up with a world title? Manuel still living rent free in ya head.
Simone Manuel isn’t living rent free anywhere. Although she’ll need somewhere to live for free soon if she doesn’t start swimming relevant times lol.
And no, Cate actually has 4x times as many relay gold medals, double as many total gold medals.
At 2018 Pan Pacs with Simone right next to her Cate swam faster than Simone has ever or will ever swim in the 50 and 100. Not exactly Simone being a “destroyer” is it? Lol
Not sure why you think I’m obsessed when I didn’t start this. Robbos said something stupid, Breezeway said something like equally stupid, Jimmy called them both out and then Breezeway chucked a tantrum lol. And now here you are.
No tantrum here, just stating facts. When Cate does something individually in the Olympics/Worlds, talk to me. Again, SM torched the field from lane 1 in 2019. And for the peanut gallery who said “no one” saw her out there, she did it again from the middle of the pool in the 50. Case closed. I wish C1 well.
I find it hard to believe you wish C1 well when you randomly started insulting her for no reason. You’re the one that started throwing out insults first and then getting upset when someone responded.
I never said anything about people “not seeing” Simone so not sure why you brought that up?
I have nothing against Manuel. She did what she had to do and won (tied for) an individual Olympic gold. But this narrative that she was so far above everyone else is just objectively false.
Cate Campbell is an individual world champion and won two gold medals in Tokyo. She swam faster in the 50 and 100 free at 2018 Pan Pacs than Manuel has ever swam,… Read more »
And I find it hard to believe you wish the best for Manuel as well considering your insults of her and your “lol”s.
Unless you know her financial situation, what makes you think she will need a free place to live? If you listened to the video, you’d understand that Simone is well aware of what she’s up against. In the video, Simone acknowledged that she didn’t need to come back. It’s a choice she made. The problem is people don’t listen objectively and are hasty to make comments and judge when they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Cate has 2018 Pan Pacs. Fact. Simone has 2016, 2017, 2019 World Titles. Fact.
Comparing best times… Read more »
This 👆🏾. Perfectly explained, Level Up.
Blame team culture