Simone Manuel Co-Founder of New Media Company, TOGETHXR

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

On March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day. As a tribute to the women who have contributed to, grown and defined excellence in the sport, Swimming World will run several features throughout the day which celebrate some of the great women and achievements in swimming history.

Olympic gold medalist Simone Manuel is one of four athlete founders of TOGETHXR, a media and commerce company founded to showcase voices of women.

Manuel is joined by soccer player Alex Morgan, basketball player Sue Bird and snowboarder Chloe Kim, standout athletes all, in founding TOGETHXR. The goal is to elevate stories of women, in sports and beyond.

“I can’t wait to share everything we have in store,” Manuel tweeted about it. “There has never been a place for women that exist like this. It’s about damn time.”

 

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“Being a woman, you are told you are too much or not enough of any one thing, all the time, especially in sports,” Manuel, who returns to competition for the first time in a year at this week’s TYR Pro Swim Series, told the New York Times. “It is a consciousness that isn’t even ingrained, it is a byproduct. If we are talking literal financial opportunities, you have to dimensionalize yourself because there isn’t enough respect for women athletes and their athletic performance.”

The company follows recent trends of athletes taking a greater level of control over their representation in the media, with a number of athletes having founded media companies. It also builds on athlete-centered movements and leagues, like Athletes United in volleyball and softball.

“There is more conscious investment and viewership, engagement is growing, cultural rhetoric is there and the significance of these women using their platforms to literally affect political and cultural change is at a fever pitch,” TOGETHXR’s chief content officer Jessica Robertson said. “And this brand is coming alongside or maybe just behind that movement.”

The company seeks to bridge the gap in under-coverage of many female athletes, particularly Olympians like Manuel and Kim who too often only surface every four years. Robertson calls it “an identity brand” that, “will speak to the idea of young women as ‘multi-hyphenates.’”

 

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Bird, who is 40 and just signed on for her 20th professional season, in particular stressed that TOGETHXR’s goals are not so much around the current generation as in changing the paradigms of how female athletes are viewed for the long-term growth of the next generation.

“I always joke that I want to be that older disgruntled athlete, because all the players who are 20, 30 or 40 years younger than me are getting paid millions and are on TV all the time because that means that I helped,” she said. “That means that I did my part when I was playing and I helped move the game and move female athletes forward in some way.”

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