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The last few years for Simone Manuel have been pivotal. And while she’s on a significant global stage, still, very private.
Simone is so often a first, and an only. Her achievements are as big as the ceiling she’s shattered, which is to say, seemingly infinite. What’s possible for her in and outside of swim, even bigger than that.
Expectations for Tokyo 2020 were goalposts, constantly shifting, as Simone navigated a pandemic and a diagnosis of overtraining syndrome. She shouldered the weight of an entire community, as the nation reckoned with racism and racist systems that kept Black people from swim and so much more.
Simone stands as a pillar for excellence and progress and change, but with that comes expectations and the pressure to win. The 2020 Olympics didn’t see her compete at the level of expectation. And that’s just the beginning of the story.
TOGETHXR presents a short documentary that serves as a raw, honest exploration about what it means to be a first, to be an only — a glorious but often lonely journey for Simone Manuel as she looks towards the Paris 2024 Olympics, and begins a new chapter of competition at Arizona State University. Featuring interviews with Simone and her mother Sharron, as well as archival footage, candid verite and b-roll, this short doc isn’t just about Simone revealing herself to the world for the first time.
It isn’t just about getting something off her chest...
It’s about getting everything off her shoulders.
"I just want to swim with no pressure or expectations from anybody, even myself."—Simone Manuel
Scenes from Head Above Water
"Swimming is something I love to do, and I have never let any obstacle, performance, pressure, or expectation stop me from doing what I love."—Simone Manuel