Get used to hearing the name, Simone Manuel! The 20-year-old swimmer became the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in an individual swimming event for the U.S. at the 2016 Rio Olympics AND she set an Olympic record! Here’s everything YOU need to know about the swimmer who’s well on her way to becoming a household name!
Simone Manuel, 20, is who everyone is talking about and the buzz surrounding her doesn’t seem like it’s going to die down anytime soon. Her life is about most likely change in more ways than one after making epic history at this year’s Olympic games, so we’ve rounded up five key things you should know about the swimmer!
1. Simone started swimming at the age of 4, and her close-knit family had a lot to do with it!
The Texas native got her feet wet at a young age by “watching her two older brothers swim summer league,” her mother, Sharron Manuel told SwimSwam.com. “She always loved the water…When she was 4 years old she asked to join the swim team. I didn’t think she was ready so to appease her, I told her she had to take swim lessons first (as her brothers did).” Well, that changed! She and her big bros are super close too. Simone posts a lot of photos of the trio and it’s adorable how much she looks up to them.
2. Simone made history at the Rio Olympics, but she actually thought about QUITTING swimming! (We’re SO happy she didn’t!)
“I always had an issue with not seeing ‘people that looked like me’ in the sport,” she told The Huffington Post. “My parents and my coaches were always encouraging and kept me going.”
Simone shot to stardom when she and Canadian Penny Oleksiak took the podium after they tied for the gold in the 100m freestyle on August 11, making Simone the first American to win that event since 1984, and as we told you, she’s the first African American woman to win an individual competition for the United States, EVER. It’s worth mentioning, again! On top of that, the girls’ time beat the old Olympic record, setting a new world record time of 52.70. WOW!
3. The 20-year-old proudly attends Stanford University, where she’s on the swim team.
As a rising junior at Stanford in CA she chose her school for more reasons than just a change of scenery from her TX roots. “You have to work hard and be pretty smart to get into a school like this — but honestly, that’s another reason why I picked it, because I wanted to be in this atmosphere and challenge myself,” she told USA Swimming this year. She went on to say the school “challenges” her “academically and athletically.” In order to be Olympic ready, she even decided to redshirt herself, therefore she was allowed to train with her college teammates, but she couldn’t compete. But, we’re thinking it obviously paid off!
4. If she wasn’t swimming, Simone would be a “dancer or a singer!” Oh, and she loves to cook…(is there anything she can’t do?)
In a Q&A from the Rio Olympics website she said she “would always be an athlete” but her evident love for her singing and dancing (as seen on her Insta), would “maybe” lead her to be a “dancer or a singer.” Let’s be serious, she DID admit she’s a fan of Beyonce, 35! She also expressed her love for cooking, and her tasty masterpieces are even displayed on her Instagram page.
5. She has a nickname, and did we mention she’s fan of a few familiar names, to say the least!
“Swimone” is what she’s been dubbed after making major waves in Rio with her skills, and it’s a pretty cool name! She’s even taken to Instagram to post a pic of she and Simone Biles, 19, with the cute caption “Twas magical,” with the hashtag “simonesquared.”
People call me Swimone more than Simon now…. Not quite used to that yet! 😏
— Simone Manuel (@simone_manuel) January 25, 2014
But, her swimming idol seems to be none other than Michael Phelps, 31. In 2008, at age 11, she “quit all other sports to focus on swimming,” Simone told Us Weekly. “I definitely [remember watching] Michael Phelps and just all the amazing things he’s done for the sport of swimming,” she said. “I think when I watched him swim in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics. I was really, really impressed. I was like, ‘I want to do that one day!’ Maybe not the eight gold medals, but go to the Olympics!” AW!
HollywoodLifers, you can congratulate Simone in the comments below on her Olympic accomplishments! How awesome is she?!