SUGAR LAND, Texas, October 8. THE top sprinter in the Class of 2014 is First Colony’s Simone Manuel, and she just made Stanford head coach Greg Meehan’s night by accepting a scholarship from the Cardinal. Manuel told Swimming World exclusively about the decision tonight.
Manuel, who is ranked sixth in the Class of 2014 by CollegeSwimming.com, has a stunning amount of top-end speed. This August at the FINA World Championships, Manuel became the first 18-and-under in American history to break the 25-second barrier in the 50-meter freestyle.
That’s historic stuff. She crushed the 15-16 National Age Group record, and continued to lower it throughout the summer. And, if not for turning 17 during Worlds, she would have blasted Kara Lynn Joyce’s 17-18 National Age Group record of 25.00 when she blasted a 24.93 in prelims. She wound up finishing the meet in Barcelona with a blistering lifetime best of 24.80, and will just have to duplicate that effort in the next year or so to claim Joyce’s mark.
Manuel made sure to find the school that also fit her needs academically, and she said the collaboration with professors and the Stanford athletic department stood out for her.
“Before (the end of my recruiting trip), I felt that it was the place for me,” Manuel said.
Manuel is also world-class in the 100-meter freestyle with a stunning time of 53.86 at the 2013 U.S. Nationals. She also has a 22.04, 47.73 and 1:44.22 to her credit in yard competition at the 2013 NCSA Junior Nationals, all taking place live on SwimmingWorld.TV. At NCAAs last year, she would have tied Florida’s Natalie Hinds for third in the 100, finished seventh in the 50 free and sixth in the 200 free last year.
NCSA Juniors 50 free
NCSA Juniors 100 free
NCSA Juniors 200 free
And, that’s just Manuel’s efforts in her key events. She has a tremendous amount of depth to her schedule, but has primarily focused on the sprint freestyle events to make the FINA World Championship roster. She told Swimming World that one of the things that Stanford head coach Greg Meehan said that convinced her Palo Alto was the right place to be was the plan to expand on her event lineup. Manuel said the 100 fly, 100 back and 200 IM are events she’d like to explore in collegiate competition.
“They do a lot of similar sets to what I do with Coach Allison (Beebe at First Colony),” Manuel said. “I’ve done very well with that type of training, and I think I can continue to improve.”
In 2011, she clocked a swift 54.50 in the 100-yard back at NCSAs, and also posted a 1:59.10 in the 200-yard IM at the 2012 Winter National Championships. She even has a 1:58.95 in the 200-yard backstroke, all incredibly strong swims for the teen prodigy.
In long course, she also has a 1:59.83 in the 200-meter free as well as a 29.03 in the 50-meter fly and 30.68 in the 50-meter back to provide some sprint medley relay potential. She also owns a 1:03.23 in the 100-meter back and could easily drop some serious time in that stroke during her college career as she begins to focus on multiple events.
That’s a huge counter punch for Stanford after Georgia picked up its third top 10 recruit of the Class of 2014 with Meaghan Raab earlier tonight. The Cardinal now have No. 2 Janet Hu, No. 3 Ally Howe, No. 6 Simone Manuel, No. 10 Lindsey Engel, No. 23 Alex Meyers and No. 45 Heidi Poppe for a truly special class.
Add in Olympian and current freshman Lia Neal, and Stanford will have a loaded field of talent for freestyle relay purposes starting next fall.