Simone Manuel, Ashleigh Johnson Make Forbes 30 Under 30 for 2022

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Simone Manuel. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Simone Manuel, Ashleigh Johnson Make Forbes 30 Under 30 for 2022

Olympic swimmer Simone Manuel and water polo player Ashleigh Johnson were named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for 2022, unveiled on Wednesday.

Both athletes are Black women who’ve achieved fame in an aquatics realm that has historically been unwelcoming to people of color. They’ve both used their platforms in a variety of ways to advocate for racial justice causes.

Manuel became the first African American woman to win an individual swimming gold medal, in the women’s 100 freestyle at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She added silver in the 50 free, silver in the 400 free relay and gold in the medley relay. She struggled at U.S. Olympic Trials this summer, failing to qualify in an individual event, but rallied to earn a relay spot. She served as a team captain in Tokyo, winning her fifth Olympic medal in the 400 free relay with a bronze.

Outside the pool, the 25-year-old Stanford grad is one of four co-founders of Togethxr, a women’s media company. Her endorsement deal with TYR, signed in 2018, features an inclusion rider that requires the company to emphasize diversity in their practices.

Johnson, 27, is the starting goalie for the U.S. water polo team, which won its third straight gold medal in Tokyo. Johnson was the backstop in the last two squads. In 2016, she became the first Black woman to make a U.S. Olympic water polo squad. The Princeton grad is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world and was voted the top goalkeeper at the Tokyo Olympics.

Among her many charitable endeavors is a swim school for middle school students in traditionally underserved areas in Miami. She runs the program with her sister, Chelsea.

Other swimmers to be named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 List in recent years include Jessica Long in 2018 and Katie Ledecky in 2016. The full 2022 sports list is available here.