Olympic champion Simone Manuel will anchor the U.S. women's 4x100 freestyle relay during the first night of swimming finals in Tokyo, the start list for the event revealed.
Erika Brown will lead off the relay, followed by Abbey Weitzeil and Natalie Hinds before Manuel.
Manuel, the 2016 Olympic champion in the 100 free alongside Canada's Penny Oleksiak, missed out on making the final for the event at U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in June, where the top six swimmers are selected to represent the U.S. in the free relay. Brown and Weitzeil qualified for the individual event.
The order and members of the relay, however, are ultimately up to the coaches' discretion; U.S. women's head coach Greg Meehan is Manuel's longtime coach at Stanford. Teammate Katie Ledecky, who anchored the silver medal 4x100 freestyle relay in 2016, also had an outside shot to be picked.
After she missed the 100 at Trials, Manuel revealed that she was diagnosed with "overtraining syndrome" in March and took three weeks out of the water from late March through mid-April. Symptoms included insomnia, anxiety and depression, among other things.
Manuel later qualified for the team individually in her last chance, the 50-meter freestyle, in which she took second to Weitzeil.
Widely regarded as one of the most clutch sprinters in American swimming history, Manuel became the first U.S. woman to sweep the 50 and 100 freestyles at a world championships when she did so in 2019. She won seven medals at the meet, the most ever by a female swimmer at a single worlds. Manuel also won the 100 at the 2017 World Championships.
Even with the addition of Manuel to the U.S. team, Australia's team of Bronte Campbell, Meg Harris, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell is the gold medal favorite.