Simone Manuel has completely turned the page on her professional swimming career.
After a three-year run as one of the best female swimmers in the world—and undoubtedly the best freestyle sprinter—Manuel has largely stayed out of the limelight and only competed a few times since the onset of the pandemic.
She only raced a handful of times prior to the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials, where we learned that the 2016 Olympic champion had been dealing with overtraining syndrome in the lead-up, and she subsequently failed to qualify for the team in the 100 free, the event in which she was the reigning Olympic champion.
Manuel battled back and made the Olympic team in the 50 free, and went on to win a bronze medal at the Games as a member of the U.S. women’s 400 free relay.
But after that stretch, from March 2020 through Tokyo, which was “exhausting” for a number of different reasons, it was clear it was time for Manuel to hit the reset button.
For a time, her competition status was unknown. The defending world champion in the women’s 50 and 100 freestyle didn’t turn up in April to vie for a spot on the U.S. World Championship team, and the question of whether or not she would race again began to creep into the minds of fans.
Revitalized, Manuel was ready to tackle the next two years in the run-up to the 2024 Olympics.
When announcing her move to join Bowman, Manuel noted she had made “major changes,” and we now know she wasn’t just talking about Arizona.
After spending the first three years of her pro career not only at Stanford, but signed with TYR, Manuel has switched her suit sponsorship, announcing a new deal with arena on Tuesday.
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“As I start a new chapter in my life and my career, I’m looking forward to continuing my growth and taking my performance to the next level with arena,” Manuel said in the arena release on Tuesday.
Changing training bases, coaches, and now sponsors (also getting engaged). One of the greatest sprinters of this era, who experienced unparalleled success in short order from 2016 to 2019, appears to be all-in.
Whether her career in the pool goes beyond Paris (she’ll turn 28 during the Games) remains to be seen, but with this new direction, we should expect these next two years to be exciting in the world of women’s sprinting.
One of the most clutch performers of the past decade is back.