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Simone Manuel and Katie Ledecky on what sets Stanford apart

Why two of the world's best swimmers chose to pursue their dreams on the Farm

Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Simone Manuel wrapped up her races in Rio yesterday, finishing with four medals -- getting gold in the 100m freestyle and 4x100m medley, and silver in 4x100 freestyle relay and the 50m freestyle. Manuel, who is from Texas, explained why she chose to attend Stanford, saying "I wanted to be in this atmosphere and challenge myself. It challenges me academically and athletically, and socially I get to be around such different people, though we also have something in common by being here." This fall will be Manuel's redshirt junior year on the Farm.

Manuel's feelings toward attending Stanford are similar the feelings of many other Stanford athletes, including five-time Olympic medalist Katie Ledecky, who will be a freshman at Stanford. While Ledecky could easily go pro and begin earning millions of dollars, she explained that "I'm only 19... I only want to represent myself and my coach and my family and my teammates. I don't think I want to represent anything bigger than that right now."

Stanford coach Greg Meehan mirrored Ledecky's views, saying, "Stanford offers the opportunity for Katie to be herself. It's the reason Chelsea Clinton and Tiger Woods chose Stanford. Because those people can just come and be part of the climate on campus. I think that climate is going to allow her to have a sense of calm."

Manuel and Ledecky represent why it's great to be a student-athlete at Stanford. They can be a part of a competitive Stanford team, without having to compromise academics or who they are. The 2016 Rio Olympics has shown light to the extraordinary opportunities Stanford provides, which sets the university apart from the rest.