Stanford senior Simone Manuel reminded people Friday that she was two years old the last time an American woman won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle at the FINA World Championships.
It was also the first medal of any kind in the event since Natalie Coughlin won silver in 2005. Stanford Jenny Thompson, then the most decorated American swimmer, won gold in 1998.
"It's great to bring American sprinting to the forefront," Manuel said. "Along with Mallory and others who are really amazing swimmers, we're trying to make a statement as sprinters."
For Manuel, it was her third gold medal of the championships, being held in Budapest, along with the 400-meter free relay and 400-meter mixed medley relay.
Manuel went 52.27, to edge Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom, who set the world record in the event at 51.71 leading off the Swedish 400-meter free relay earlier in the competition.
“I think I always have a shot,” Manuel said. “I think that’s why I’m the swimmer that I am. I just know how to race, and I try to get my hand on the wall first. I just had confidence in the training I had done and my performance going into the race.”
Manuel placed second to Sjostrom in Thursday's semifinal but set an American record doing so. That's two American records and a world record (in the mixed medley relay) on Manuel's slate.
“I think that my path in swimming has just been progressing forward,” Manuel said. “It happened at the right time, and I’m really happy with that, and I’m really hoping that trend can continue on through my swimming career.”