American swimmer Simone Manuel proved her winning performance in the 100-meter freestyle at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro wasn’t a fluke on Friday when she added another gold to her growing medal collection by winning the event at the FINA World Championships in Budapest.
Manuel, who had never medaled in the event at worlds before, set a new American record on Friday, winning in 52.27 seconds.
The 20-year-old also beat out heavy favorite Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, who holds the world record in the event and had days earlier swam the length in 51.71 seconds as part of Sweden’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay team. (Incidentally, Team USA, which included Manuel, ended up winning that event, too.)
Sjostrom, 23, was unable to reproduce that superstar time, however, and finished the race on Friday with a time of 52.31 to take second place. Denmark’s Pernille Blume rounded out the podium with a time of 52.69.
The lone other American in the 100-meter freestyle finals, Mallory Comerford, came in fourth, with a time of 52.77.
The race didn’t begin with Manuel in the lead. Sjostrom’s pace for the first 50 meters had the Swede on track to break her world record. However, after the turn, Sjostrom’s pace tapered off while Manuel’s held steady, and within the last 10 meters she was able to pass her opponent.
“I just saw an incredible mirror image of exactly what happened a year ago,” the announcer on NBC Sports’ broadcast. “Unbelievable.”
The announcer was referring to Manuel’s Olympic performance that saw her come back in the final meters of that race to touch the wall again ahead of Sjostrom. In that case, Canada’s Penny Oleksiak tied Manuel for the gold, but on Friday, Manuel owned the podium on her own. (Oleksiak finished in sixth place with a time of 52.94.)
Despite surprising the swimming world again, Manuel didn’t offer much in the way of reaction on Friday. She simply glanced up a few times at the results then hugged her opponents. She kept her smile for atop the podium.
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