Simone says: Olympic champ pushes for change in, out of pool

FILE - In this July 27, 2019, file photo, United States' Simone Manuel starts a heat of the women's 50-meter fresstyle at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. Manuel joined with fellow Olympians Sue Bird, Chloe Kim and Alex Morgan to launch TOGETHXR, a media and commerce company aimed at girls and women. It will create content for social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok as well as its own YouTube channel. Billie Jean King cheered its announcement this week. I cant wait to share everything we have in store," Manuel tweeted earlier this week.  (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)
FILE - In this July 27, 2019, file photo, United States' Simone Manuel starts a heat of the women's 50-meter fresstyle at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. Manuel joined with fellow Olympians Sue Bird, Chloe Kim and Alex Morgan to launch TOGETHXR, a media and commerce company aimed at girls and women. It will create content for social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok as well as its own YouTube channel. Billie Jean King cheered its announcement this week. I cant wait to share everything we have in store," Manuel tweeted earlier this week. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The pool has long been home to Simone Manuel. Outside of it, the Olympic champion is pushing herself in a new endeavor to boost the profile of women’s sports.

She joined with fellow Olympians Sue Bird, Chloe Kim and Alex Morgan to launch TOGETHXR, a media and commerce company aimed at girls and women. It will create content for social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok as well as its own YouTube channel. Billie Jean King cheered its announcement this week.

“I can’t wait to share everything we have in store,” Manuel tweeted. “There has never been a place for women that exist like this. It’s about damn time.”

Manuel has been busy making her own news in the water. She broke out at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, becoming the first Black woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming with her victory in the 100-meter freestyle, one of four medals she earned.

In 2019, she became the first American woman to sweep the 50 and 100 freestyles at the world championships.

She’s aiming to defend her 100 free title at the Tokyo Olympics, delayed for a year by the coronavirus pandemic. When Stanford closed its facilities last March, Manuel and training partner Katie Ledecky found a backyard pool to work out in.

“If you think about it, we’ve essentially been training for five years for the Olympics, so it takes a lot out of you and it takes a lot of mental strength to continue to push on through this period,” Manuel said Thursday in a virtual interview. “We’re all kind of going through the ebbs and flows of how to train for an extra year.”

Although the self-critical Manuel wasn’t pleased with her time, she won the 100 free on Thursday at the TYR Pro Swim meet in her home state of Texas. She touched in 54.62 seconds at the indoor pool in San Antonio. Abbey Weitzel was second at 54.68. Ledecky took third in 54.74.