Simone Manuel is the new face of U.S. Swimming and she may be the top story going into the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The 21-year-old made history by winning the 50 and 100 freestyle at the FINA World Swimming Championships in South Korea on Sunday. She set a new U.S. record in the women’s 100-meter freestyle.
After Manuel won the 50 and 100 freestyle, she then went on to anchor the women’s 4×100 medley relay.
Her swimming career is impressive but what she did outside of the pool is making the biggest splash. She has been dedicated to growing diversity in the sport.
“The gold medal wasn’t just for me; it was for people that came before me and inspired me to stay in the sport,” she told The New York Times in a 2016 interview regarding her win at the Rio Olympics.
“For people who believe that they can’t do it, I hope I’m an inspiration to others to get out there and try swimming. You might be pretty good at it.”
Earlier this year, Manuel was a guest speaker at the LeBron James’ I Promise School in Akron, Ohio. She has pledged to give swimming lessons to all of the students at the Akron Area YMCA this summer. She has also spoken to them about the importance of learning to swim.
“The most important thing is saving lives more than winning gold medals. Representation is important,” Manuel stated.