U.S. Olympic Trials: Simone Manuel Drops 24.13 to Win 50 Free

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials: Simone Manuel Drops 24.13 to Win 50 Free

All of the talk Saturday night, after semifinals of women’s 50 freestyle at U.S. Olympic Trials, focused on other people. Could Torri Huske or Gretchen Walsh crack 24 seconds? Could Abbey Weitzeil get on the team in an individual event?

If anyone forgot about Simone Manuel, it was at their own peril.

Manuel blasted a time of 24.13 to win the event at Lucas Oil Stadium, giving her an individual swim at her third straight Olympics.

“It means a lot,” Manuel sad. “This meet hasn’t been exactly what I wanted or what I worked hard for. It’s been a roller coaster. I’m grateful to be back on the team, and that’s how I was feeling after the 100 free but also disappointed in the time. I really wanted to try to refocus  for the 50, get back on the team in an individual swim.

“It means the world, and I’m glad that I continued to keep fighting, regardless of what’s thrown at me. I think even more so than just getting the first place is continue to show up and try to be my best every time I step up on the blocks.”

Second was Gretchen Walsh, who went 24.15, to grab the second individual spot ahead of Weitzeil (24.26) and Huske (24.33).

Manuel was already on the team after finishing fourth in the 100 free for relay duty, same as Weitzeil. Manuel had won the 50 at Trials in 2021 in 24.29 despite battling with overtraining syndrome. She finished 11th in Tokyo.

Huske had set the pace in prelims at Trials in 24.47, ahead of Catie DeLoof. Walsh took over in semifinals, her 24.06 just ahead of the 24.09 of Huske. Weitzeil was third in semifinals in 24.48, and Manuel was fourth in 24.51, admitting she wasn’t very happy with it.

But Manuel surged as the race went on Sunday, her stroke remaining clean and with the power of days of old. The margin over Walsh was off the blocks – Manuel reacted in 0.67 to Walsh’s 0.73 – but Manuel kept her stroke strong and fast as she came home.

Weitzeil and Huske were in that lead pack, with the top four finishers separated by two tenths. Fifth was 15-year-old Rylie Erisman in 24.62. Erika Connolly and DeLoof, who authored such an engrossing swim-off for sixth in the 100 free, were separated by .06 this time around, Connolly beating her former Tennessee training mate for sixth. Maxine Parker was eighth in 24.90.

Walsh was OK if not blown away by the performance.

“I was happy with it,” Walsh said. “I think I have something better in me, but to perform like that on the very end of the of a nine-day-long swim meet is pretty phenomenal. I’m just proud that I got my hand in the wall, and I’m really excited to be doing another individual event in Paris.”

The world will be chasing Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom in Paris. She owns the eight of the nine fastest times in the world this year – including 23.69 to win the World Championship in Doha and 23.75 Sunday at Sette Colli. Only three other women before the final at Trials had broken 24 this year, and the lone American to do so was Kate Douglass, who scratched the event. Manuel’s time is 18th in the world this year.

For Manuel, Sunday’s swim was validation of all the resilience and all the hard work she’s put in.

“I wasn’t shocked because I did believe it was possible,” he said. “Like I said, I know the work I put in. Eventually, if you continue trying and continue working hard, your hard work will pay off. I think it was more relief, excitement, glad it’s over.

“Last time, in 2021, that was the longest 50 of my life, and today once again felt like the longest 50 of my life because I wanted it bad. I really wanted to swim an individual event. It wasn’t that I was shocked that I could win because I know the work I put in and the racer that I am. It’s more excitement.”


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22 days ago

She’s a true champion!

22 days ago
Reply to  SETH

Good to see her make your team.
But I think the Gold is an absolute lock for Sjostrom along with her WR going.
Silver is between Jack and Wasick.

Steven Mamou
Steven Mamou
22 days ago

We Are Looking at and Witnessing World History
Congratulations 🎊🎉 Simone and The Entire Manuel Family

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