How Simone Manuel Swam Past Every Adversity to Make Her Return Trip to the Olympics

screenmixJuly 18, 2021

When she returned to practice in April, she was far from full-speed ahead, struggling through sessions and rarely getting in the full-workout, calling that final push “an uphill climb.” 

Entering the Olympic trials in Omaha this June, Simone was cautiously hopeful. “My faith is extremely important to me, so I think I was having a lot of moments where I was just telling myself to believe,” she told reporters. “Of course, you know in the back of your head this is a realistic voice saying, ‘OK, but you’ve only been in the water for eight weeks, and you are about to swim at Olympic trials.'”

Ultimately, her 54.17 finish in the semifinals of the 100m—that left her just 0.02 seconds away from a spot in the finals—”was the best I could be today, in this moment,” the current American record holder admitted to reporters, as she fielded questions for 24 unflinching minutes. “That’s a tough pill to swallow, but what makes it easier to swallow is that I went out there and did my best.”