Simone Ashley Manuel (born August 2, 1996) is an American competition swimmer specializing in sprint freestyle. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, she won two gold and two silver medals: gold in the 100-meter freestyle and the 4×100-meter medley, and silver in the 50-meter freestyle and the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.
In winning the 100-meter freestyle, a tie with Penny Oleksiak of Canada, Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic gold in swimming and set an Olympic record and an American record.
Manuel also holds three world records as a member of a relay team, and she is a two-time individual National Collegiate Athletic Association champion, becoming one of the first three African American women to place in the top three spots in the 100-yard freestyle event in any Division I NCAA Swimming Championship. Since 2014, she has attended Stanford University, where she swims for the Stanford Cardinal.
Simone Manuel was born in Sugar Land, Texas, on August 2, 1996. She has two older brothers, one of whom played basketball for Southern Methodist University. Her parents encouraged competitive sports in the three children, and Manuel was introduced to swimming through her brothers, who swam summer league competition.
She asked to join the swimming team at four, and she was enrolled in swimming lessons. She was swimming with her local club, First Colony Swim Team, by eleven, and there she swam under head coach Alison Beebe, whom Manuel cited as a significant teacher. She graduated from Fort Bend Austin High School in 2014 and started attending Stanford University the same year.
Manuel swam at the 2012 United States Olympic Trials, placing 20th in the 50-meter freestyle and 17th in the 100-meter freestyle events.
After entering Stanford in 2014, she is a member of the Stanford Cardinal women’s swimming team. She broke the school records in the 50-, 100-, and 200-yard freestyle in the same year, and in 2014, her freshman year, she also broke the American and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) records for 100-yard freestyle. Manuel is a two-time individual NCAA champion: winning the 50- and 100-yard freestyle in 2015.
She competed at the 2013 US National Championships, where she finished third in the 100-meter freestyle and second in the 50-meter freestyle events. She qualified for the 2013 World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona, and she won a gold medal in the preliminary for the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.
She also competed in the 2013 Duel in the Pool, where she won first in the 100-meter freestyle, third in the 50-meter freestyle, second in the 400-meter freestyle relay, and first in the 200-meter mixed medley relay.