UM junior Maggie MacNeil first woman to break 49 seconds in 100-yard butterfly

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan junior Maggie MacNeil entered the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships with a share of the NCAA record in the 100-yard butterfly.

Friday night, she made it all her own and in stunning fashion.

MacNeil not only won the NCAA title in the event but did so in record-setting fashion in 48.89 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center becoming the first woman to break 49 seconds in the 100-yard butterfly. She is the seventh Michigan swimmer or diver to win an NCAA title and the first since 2008. Her time also is a U.S. Open record. Virginia’s well-decorated Kate Douglass was second at 49.55

Michigan's Maggie MacNeil.

“Winning an NCAA title has been my goal since probably my freshman year,” MacNeil said late Friday in a Zoom with reporters. “I knew that was going to be a challenge. Kate’s such a great racer and competitor. I touched, and I knew I had won at that point in time, but it wasn’t until I looked closer at the scoreboard that I saw that I had broken the 49 seconds.”

MacNeil had a share of the previous NCAA record, which she recorded in December 2019.

During the Big Ten championships last month, MacNeil, a native of London, Ontario, was the only triple winner (50-yard freestyle, 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard freestyle). Already named to the Canadian Olympic team, she also led Michigan’s 200-yard medley relay with an NCAA-record 23.02 in the 50-yard backstroke. MacNeil, named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year in 2019 and Big Ten Swimmer of the Year in 2020, was Swimmer of the Championships at the Big Ten meet for the second straight season.

All Michigan sports paused in late January for two weeks for COVID-related issues, which meant no in-pool training. MacNeil said she had some weight equipment at home and maintained her training that way.

“We were out of the pool for two weeks which wasn’t ideal leading into our championship,” said MacNeil, a 14-time Big Ten champion. “I know there’s been some controversy nationally if we were out of the pool and how long that was for. I can confirm we were out of the pool for two full weeks, only getting back in two weeks before conference.”

There was some rust upon returning to the pool, but MacNeil said because she’s a sprinter, she gets into shape fairly quickly.

“I kind of felt a little bit off at Big Tens and we had gotten back into it and I didn’t really taper because NCAAs was coming up and considering we had just had two weeks off,” MacNeil said. “I would say this week was the week I kind of felt everything back to the way it was before the shutdown.”

Because of campus shutdowns last March, there were no NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. MacNeil said that helped motivate her heading into these championships that conclude Saturday.

“Not having NCAAs kind of fueled the fire in me going into tonight,” MacNeil said Friday night. “I’ve been working a lot on the first 50 of my speed and the first 25 of my 50, so I think that definitely was able to translate into tonight’s swim.”

Twitter: @chengelis