Heartbroken after finishing ninth, Olympic champion Simone Manuel reveals why she struggled

Story Highlights

  • Manuel holds the American record in the 100 free in 52.04 seconds
  • She revealed she was diagnosed with overtraining syndrome in March
  • Manuel suffered from insomnia, depression, lack of appetite and other symptoms

OMAHA, Neb. – Simone Manuel, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the 100 freestyle who failed to qualify for the final in that event Thursday night at the 2021 U.S. Olympic trials, revealed she was diagnosed with overtraining syndrome in March and spent three weeks out of the pool two months before the trials.

"It was kind of one of those bittersweet moments where my body wasn’t doing what I knew it was capable of," said Manuel, 24, the only Black female swimmer to win an individual Olympic gold medal and one of the most popular and recognizable names in her sport.

"I had moments where I didn’t even want to go to the pool because I knew it was going to be bad," she said in a press conference a little more than an hour after her race. "It was one of those moments where I felt relief because (taking time off) is what I need to even get to Olympic trials, but it also was hard because 11 weeks out from Olympic trials, you’re taking three weeks out of the water. I wasn’t doing any exercise. I went home and I spent time with my family."

Manuel said she experienced various symptoms starting in January: an increased heart rate, both at rest and in training; insomnia, depression, lack of appetite, anxiety and muscle soreness. 

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