Simone Manuel’s New arena Deal Signifies “New Chapter” In Her Swimming Career

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.

Then came the bombshell last month. The 26-year-old was heading to Arizona State to train under esteemed coach Bob Bowman and his ever-growing pro group in Tempe.

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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A post shared by Simone Manuel (@swimone)

“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.

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3 days ago

The women’s sprint in USA is well behind in international competition and desperately needs a swimmer of Manuel’s caliber. Any news of Simone coming back are very welcome. But how strong Simone Manuel is now and what can we reasonably anticipate from her is very hard to tell. The OTS reason of her decline is looking more like a coverup than a clear explanation of what had happened to her. She was underperforming from the Fall 2020 when she just got into training cycle in preparation for Tokyo. Has she been already overtrained then? Greg Meehan has a strong experience in training sprinters but we had heard nothing from him in Manuel’s case. Has she already overcome the problem that… Read more »

Reply to  Yozhik
3 days ago

Simone seemed fine with that 53.3 in November 2020. It was in March 2021 that things seemed off when she went 54.3 at a PSS meet.

Reply to  Yozhik
3 days ago

We don’t need revisit what happened as it’s in the past now. A long break and new training environment should be enough of a cure for whatever she had. I think worst case she only breaks 53. I’d like to see her swim fast more often and not have to wait until next summer to see it

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Yozhik
3 days ago

Are they really “well behind in international competition?” Only country that’s for sure better is Australia, which is just one country.

Reply to  Steve Nolan
2 days ago

Canada is stronger in the 100 and GB and Sweden aren’t far behind in the 100. From a relay pov yeah USA are still near the top but individually they just don’t compete with the likes of the top 6-8 Aussies, Sjostrom and Haughey to name a few

Reply to  Yozhik
2 days ago

I suspect she was practicing too much with Ledecky in that 2 lane backyard pool during the early pandemic days and it wore her down over time

3 days ago

Praying to the swimming gods for a Simone Manuel comeback.

3 days ago

Happy she’s in a good place but think her best years are behind her.

3 days ago

how much is a sponsorship like that worth ?

The alpha dog
Reply to  Stevo
3 days ago

a few hundred bucks

Reply to  Stevo
3 days ago

It is negotiable and it varies greatly depending on your swimming résumé, your social media following and of course your ( or your agent’s) negotiation skills. I’ve heard some swimsuit contracts include zero salary and only are based on bonuses for accomplishments all the way up to multi million dollar contracts.

Reply to  Swimfan
3 days ago

Arena has to be approaching the salary cap now with Popovici leading the charge

3 days ago

So exciting. Glad she took a break and still wanted to come back.

3 days ago

Very excited for Simone and her future in and out of the pool! She seems to be in a good place.

3 days ago

Let’s go Queen!

ur mom
3 days ago

team arena ^^^

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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