Simone Manuel, America’s fastest swimmer, has the slowest pets

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IRVINE, Calif. — Simone Manuel can cover the length of an Olympic swimming pool in 23.97 seconds, faster than any American woman in history.

Her pets could do it in about 4,000 seconds. If the pool was empty.

Manuel, the Olympic and world champion in the 100m freestyle, came to the U.S. Championships this week following a few life changes.

She recently completed her NCAA career at Stanford, earning the Honda Cup as the top female college athlete in the country. Manuel announced Tuesday that she signed with swimwear sponsor Tyr, kicking off her professional career.

And she recently celebrated her two-month anniversary with Shaka and Zulu.

“I didn’t pick the names,” Manuel said. “My boyfriend picked the names.”

Shaka and Zulu are Manuel’s pet snails. She found them on a walk in May, picked them up and gave them a new home — a Glad container.

“I’ve learned a lot about snails and Googling why they do certain things,” she said.

Snails reach a top speed of 50 yards per hour or about a half-inch per second, according to snail-world.com. It would take them about two weeks to cover a mile without stopping.

“They’ve kind of taught me to slow things down,” Manuel said. “When they come out of their shells I watch them. I don’t know. It’s weird talking about it now.”

Manuel looked plenty fast on the opening night of nationals Wednesday, winning the 100m free in 52.54 seconds, the fastest ever time in a U.S. pool and the second-best time of her career.

Manuel booked a spot in this year’s major international meet — the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo and August — and all but assured her place on the 2019 World Championships team.

Shaka and Zulu are also eligible for a world championships. The world snail racing championships are held every July, the latest edition happening last Saturday in Great Britain. Snails race 13 inches on damp cloths marked with rings, according to Reuters.

In Rio, Manuel became the first female African-American swimmer to win an individual Olympic title. She sometimes feels reduced to a label — “the black swimmer,” she recently wrote — when she knows she is so much more.

Part of that is sharing her life on social media, especially in Instagram stories heavily populated by Shaka, Zulu and her cooking personality, “Chef Swimone.”

Another part is embedded in her Tyr contract. A first-of-its-kind inclusion rider stipulates that Manuel’s partners “extend meaningful opportunities to traditionally underrepresented groups and that diversity be reflected in the creative efforts she pursues with the brand.”

“I’m kind of quirky and nerdy,” said Manuel, a ballerina from age 2 to 12 who performed in “The Nutcracker” in the Houston area. “I don’t really like nature, so I’m not sure why I picked up the snails that day. But I kind of want people to be more involved and really interact with [my social media] and let them have a better understanding of who I am outside of the water.”

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South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

Lim Hyo-Jun
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Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

Another star South Korean skater, triple 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ahn Hyun-Soo, switched to Russia after not making the 2010 Olympic team. He then won three golds for the host nation as Viktor Ahn at the 2014 Sochi Games.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

Brigid Kosgei
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World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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