U.S. Olympic Trials: Greg Meehan Reveals Why Simone Manuel Scratched 200 Free

simone-manuel-
Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials: Greg Meehan Reveals Why Simone Manuel Scratched 200 Free

Simone Manuel, the Olympic and world champion in the 100 free, has grown into an impressive 200 freestyler. She led of the American women’s 800 free relay at the 2019 World Championships and split 1:56.09 on the way to a silver medal and American record (which surpassed the previous world record). Manuel entered the meet as the third seed for the 200 free, but she did not walk out for the fifth heat of the event.

Greg Meehan, Manuel’s coach at Stanford and the head coach of the U.S. women at the Olympics, said after the session that Manuel was never planning on competing in the 200 free through all three rounds, and that a combination of factors led to the decision that she would not swim at all. However, Meehan noted that he was still considering Manuel for a spot on the 800 free relay at the Olympics, and she has shown enough both based on her career accomplishments and in practice and informal racing to deserve that consideration.

“We had done a couple of pretty good 200s back home, so I feel like we’ve checked that box,” Meehan said. “It’s not an event that, even in the grandest of plans, we were never going to swim all the way through because if things go well the back half of the week, she just has too many races to then add. If she were to have an amazing 200 free and make it individually, it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t help her, and it doesn’t help Team USA medal contention.”

Manuel actually has not competed in the 200 free all year. She missed the TYR Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo in April, but she posted solid efforts in racing both the 50 free and 100 free at her last tuneup meet in Austin, Texas, with times of 24.70 in the 50 and 53.83 in the 100. Manuel will have a busy back half of the week with three rounds of the 100 free Thursday and Friday and three rounds of the 50 free Saturday and Sunday.

“Coming out of April and May, we’re getting focused in on the 100 and 50 and letting it roll there,” Meehan said.

Manuel was not the only swimmer to put her attention on individual swims instead of seeking spots as relay alternates. Both Melanie Margalis and Olivia Smoliga did not swim the 200 free as they focus on other events coming up.

But if Manuel was knew she was not going to swim the 200, why was she still on the heat sheet? “I forgot to scratch her,” Meehan said, “so I had to do the DFS. I saw the heat sheet, and it was like, ‘Agh.'”

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