5 Things You Need to Know About U.S. Olympic Swimmer Simone Manuel - NBC Connecticut
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5 Things You Need to Know About U.S. Olympic Swimmer Simone Manuel

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    Gold medalist Simone Manuel of the United States celebrates during the medal ceremony for the Women's 100m Freestyle Final on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    In case you missed it, Simone Manuel tied with Penny Oleksiak of Canada for a gold medal during last night's 100m freestyle event. Manuel's win was even more special because made it her the first African-American woman to ever medal in an individual swimming event. We're talking history, people.

    The 20-year-old's incredible swim was just another day in the pool though, as Simone has been making splashes within the swim community years prior to her Olympic debut. In fact, Manuel already made sports history before she even touched down in Brazil.

    Here's everything you need to know about the powerhouse athlete:

    1. She Almost Quit the Sport: Four years after her parents first enrolled Simone and her two older brothers in swim lessons to learn water safety, the Olympian-in-training almost traded her swimsuits for dance leotards at 9 years old. But with a little convincing from her family, Simone stuck to what came to her naturally. After all, her mom knew she was destined for the pool after a trip to a local water park, telling Sugar Land Magazine, "The second we put her in the water, she splashed and splashed and splashed. It was like a transformation."

    2. She's No Stranger to Making History: Back in 2015, Simone made headlines for what would not be the last time when she finished first at the Women's Division 1 NCAA Championship in the 100m freestyle. (Not to mention she also set a NCAA, American, U.S. Open, Championship and Pool record after clocking in with a time of 46.09). Alongside fellow Olympian Lia Neal and Natalie Hinds, the three became the first African-American swimmers to have ever swept the podium. Not too shabby, Simone!

    3. She Understands the Work Hard, Play Hard Mentality: While most of us will never fathom the level of dedication and sacrifice it takes to compete on the world's stage at the Olympics, Simone is able to do all that and maintain a positive outlook on the sport's most grueling aspects. Take her workouts for example, which feature the swimmer and her teammates lifting weights to Beyonce and fitting in some dance breaks along the way. In a recent interview Manuel said her pre-meet routine is less about scoping out the competition and more about having a good time.

    "I like to keep things light-hearted and fun. For the most part I'm joking around with my teammates, sending Snapchats, doing anything but focusing on my race. I think that helps me not have too many nerves," she said.

    4. She's a Student at a Top University: Simone studies and swims for Stanford University, and with such a rigorous course load on top of her training schedule, the athlete says she's able to handle it all by, "[communicating] with my teachers early, and I study the syllabus. The syllabus always keeps me on track," adding, "I always find time for naps, so that allows me to stay balanced and take care of all of my priorities."

    5. She's Outspoken About the Lack of Diversity in Swimming: Ahead of her Olympic journey, Simone opened up to the Huffington Post about grappling with the sport's demographic. "I have felt like quitting," she told the outlet, adding, "I always had an issue with not seeing 'people that looked like me' in the sport."

    Of her gold medal win, Manuel said, "It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality. This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My color just comes with the territory."