Simone Manuel is heading in to her first Olympics next month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and based on her nickname, it was her destiny.
Before the 19-year-old was a Stanford University student preparing for her first Olympics, she was on a club swim team, where one of the parents of a fellow swimmer nicknamed her “Swimone.
“I think one time she was saying like, ‘Simone swims…’, ‘Swim, Simone.’ Then when she said it, like, it all came together and she was like, ’Swimone!’ she tells Us Weekly of the fateful naming. “So after that a lot of people have called me Swimone!”
While the freestyle swimmer is also often called “Simon,” as a way of shortening Simone, she says “Swimone” is popular and she prefers it.
“I think it fits!” she says with a laugh.
It was in 2014 that “Swimone” overtook “Simon.” She tweeted early that year, “People call me Swimone more than Simon now…. Not quite used to that yet!”
Even her phone thinks it’s a good fit. Late last year the student, who loves to collect sunglasses, tweeted, “Ashamed that I’m typing in the first person, but my phone just changed Simone to Swimone.”
The nickname is sure to catch on even more when she swims the 50- and 100-meter freestyle races at the Summer Games — an achievement she’s been working toward since 2008, when at 11 years old, she quit all other sports to focus on swimming, her favorite sport.
“I definitely [remember watching] Michael Phelps and just all the amazing things he’s done for the sport of swimming,” she recalls. “I think when I watched him swim in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics. I was really, really impressed. I was like, ‘I want to do that one day!’ Maybe not the eight gold medals, but go to the Olympics!”
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