Simone Manuel is now a bride-to-be!
On Monday, the Olympic swimmer, 26, announced she is engaged to her longtime boyfriend Denzel Franklin on Instagram alongside photos of the couple smiling together and the athlete showing off her engagement ring.
"Major changes outside the pool as well… ~ 7.3.22 ~ Easiest and quickest 'YES'! 😂," she captioned the snaps.
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She added, "Nothing tops being able to experience life's blessings and challenges with your best friend. So excited to continue this journey called life with you! ❤️🔥"
Manuel — who became the first African-American woman to win gold in an individual swimming event at the Olympics in 2016 — also announced her return to the pool on Monday after taking a break from training following the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. She competed in the U.S. women's 4×100 free relay and the individual women's 50 free at the event.
In a second Instagram post, Manuel revealed that she would begin training at Arizona State University with Michael Phelps former coach, Bob Bowman.
"Hey y'all! After a long and much-needed break, I have made major changes," she shared. "I'm excited to announce that I will be training at ASU under the guidance of Bob Bowman, Herbie Behm, and the coaching staff at ASU!"
She added, "New opportunities. New location. Same destination!"
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Back in 2020, Manuel opened up to PEOPLE about experiencing racism as a swimmer.
"I think that my journey in the sport of swimming as a Black woman has been one with many trials and tribulations," Manuel tells PEOPLE.
The Texas native recalls the many prejudiced responses she experienced from people once they discovered she was a swimmer. The reactions varied from distinct looks of bewilderment to being asked why she didn't choose a different sport, like "track or basketball."
"It's very obvious that it's rooted in the thinking that Black people can't swim, shouldn't swim or can't be successful in the sport of swimming," she says. "I've gotten responses like that. I've gotten laughed at when I've told people I swim."
"Those are some experiences that have hurt down pretty deep, because it's really hard to always feel like you have to kind of defend what you love, defend your passions, defend your ambitions," she continues. "That was something that was really difficult for me because I always knew what the responses and the reactions were rooted in, and that it had to do with the color of my skin."