BlackGirlMagic was in full effect at the FINA World Championship in South Korea. According to Team USA, Olympic swimmer Simone Manuel won the 100-meter freestyle competition for the second consecutive year and made history in the process by setting a new U.S. record.
Manuel—who hails from Houston, Texas—made it to the finish line in 52.04 seconds. She edged out Swedish swimmer Sarah Sjostrom and Australia’s Cate Campbell. She is the second woman to win two consecutive world titles. The first woman to do so was swimmer Kornelia Ender 44 years ago. This isn’t the first time that Manuel has made history. In 2016 she became the first Black woman to win an individual Olympic gold medal in swimming.
Her impact goes far beyond the water. Manuel is big on philanthropy and is on a mission to diversify swimming. “The gold medal wasn’t just for me; it was for people that came before me and inspired me to stay in the sport,” she told the New York Times in an interview. “For people who believe that they can’t do it, I hope I’m an inspiration to others to get out there and try swimming. You might be pretty good at it.”
Earlier this year, she visited LeBron James’ I Promise School in Akron, Ohio to talk with students about water safety and encourage them to learn how to swim. In partnership with the Akron Area YMCA, she will provide all of the students with swimming lessons this summer. She is also spreading awareness about the high drowning rate within the Black community and is working hard to reverse the alarming trend. “The most important thing is saving lives more than winning gold medals. Representation is important,” she said.