Global swimwear brand arena is pleased to announce that 2016 Olympic 100m freestyle champion, Simone Manuel, has joined their team of elite swimmers, signing a sponsorship through to the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
“It’s so great to be teaming up with arena,” said Simone. “Going back to my first days as a professional swimmer, I’ve always loved their gear, mainly for their performance, but also for their Italian style, and it’s great to be part of a team that includes many of the world’s best. As I start a new chapter in my life and my career, I’m looking forward to continuing my growth and taking my performance to the next level with arena.”
Following a much-needed break after the postponed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the 26-year-old from Sugar Land, Texas, is now returning to the pool after making some key decisions about her future, including signing with the renowned Italian swimwear brand. Simone is the current 50m and 100m freestyle American Record holder, and, in 2019, set a new high mark for the most medals by a Woman at a single World Aquatics Championships.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Simone to the arena family,” said Mark Pinger, General Manager for arena North America. “We love everything Simone stands for in and out of the pool. Like most competitive swimwear brands, we pursued Simone early in her professional career and have always regretted letting this amazing athlete slip through our hands” Pinger explained. “As the fastest growing brand in the sport of competitive swimming, we’re a different company today than we were just a few short years ago and we’re honored to now welcome Simone to Team arena. She’s already accomplished so much, yet she’s only 26 and clearly has much more to give. We believe Simone to be an ideal ambassador for the brand, and we’ll give her full support in pursuing her goals both in the pool and beyond.”
Simone started swimming lessons when she was four and soon showed great promise in the pool, while her enthusiasm and athleticism helped her to flourish at soccer, volleyball, basketball, and dance. By the time she graduated from high school, she had already broken an American Record in the 100 yard freestyle, going on to become a multi-time NCAA All-American and Champion for the Stanford Cardinals.
Simone made her Olympic debut at the 2016 Olympiad in Rio. She made history as the first African- American woman to win gold in an individual swimming event when she tied for first place in the 100m Freestyle, setting a new Olympic and American Record time (52.70) in the process. Two days later she won her second gold for Team USA in the 4x100 medley relay and went on to win 2 additional silver medals in the 50m freestyle and 4x100 freestyle relay.
A year later at the World championships in Budapest, Simone won 5 gold medals, including the 100m freestyle with a come-from-behind victory in 52.27s. Four relay golds followed, 3 of them in world record times (4 x 100m medley, 4 x 100m mixed freestyle, 4 x 100m mixed medley) and the fourth (4 x 100m freestyle) in a new national record. Her 50m freestyle bronze also set a new national record as she became the first American woman to break 24 seconds in the event (23.97s).
In 2018, she turned pro and, in signing her first sponsorship agreement, set a new precedent by incorporating an inclusion rider in her contract, the first of its kind in the world of professional sports.
2019 was another landmark year for Simone as she became the first American woman to win both the 50m and 100m freestyle at a World Championships. She ended up winning a total of 7 medals in Gwangju, the most-ever in history by a woman at a single World Championships, in the process setting two new World Records (4x100m medley, 4x100m mixed freestyle) and three new American Records (100m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle).
The advent of Covid and the racial reckoning of 2020 interrupted Simone’s ascension as the lack of racing and Overtraining Syndrome hampered her preparation for the postponed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Despite missing out on qualification for the 100m freestyle, she courageously qualified for the team in the 50m freestyle and swam the critical anchor leg for the 4x100m freestyle bronze medal team.
Following a much needed mental and physical break from the sport following the Tokyo Olympics, Simone launched her return with a significant career move - announcing in August of this year that she had decided to move to Arizona in order to train with the Arizona State pro group under head coach Bob Bowman. The move signals a new beginning for her, and it coincides with her decision to team up with arena, signifying a desire to pursue her refreshed personal goals on her terms as she makes a much anticipated return in her professional career.
Beyond the pool, Simone’s work has been focused on expanding opportunities for others. She co-founded media and commerce company, TOGETHXR and has partnered with multiple organizations on programs to provide resources and aid to underserved kids and families, invested in teaching anti-racism in all forms and actively promoted inclusion in swimming. She has served as an ambassador for USA Swimming’s Make A Splash initiative and in 2019, she partnered with Lebron James’ Promise School in Akron, Ohio, piloting a 4- week summer swim program for students of the school. Early next year, Simone will launch The Simone Manuel foundation, with programming and grants focused on expanding her work around inclusion and wellness, throughout an extended network of schools and community organizations.
Simone Manuel Bio
Born: 2nd August, 1996, in Sugar Land, Texas Primary Discipline: Freestyle
Coach: Bob Bowman
Club: ASU Pro Group, Tempe, Arizona
Bronze: 4x100m freestyle
2016 Rio De Janeiro
Gold: 100m freestyle, 4x100m medley Silver: 50m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle
Gold: 50 & 100m freestyle, 4x100m medley, 4x100m mixed freestyle Silver: 4x100m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle, 4x100m mixed medley
Gold: 100m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle, 4x100m medley, 4x100m mixed freestyle, 4x100m mixed medley
Bronze: 50m freestyle 2015 Kazan
Gold: 4x100m mixed freestyle
Bronze: 4x100m freestyle
Gold: 4x100m freestyle
Pan Pacific Championships
Silver: 50 & 100m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle, 4x100m medley Bronze: 4x100 mixed medley
2014 Gold Coast
Silver: 4x100m freestyle, 4x100m medley Bronze: 100m freestyle