2021 Swammy Awards: Canadian Female Swimmer of the Year – Maggie MacNeil


The 2021 Canadian Female Swimmer of the Year Swammy Award goes to Maggie MacNeil, making her the first repeat winner of this award. 

MacNeil, who competes in the NCAA as a member of the Michigan Wolverines, began her year with explosive performances in the SCY Pool at the 2021 NCAA Championships. During the meet, MacNeil picked up individual victories in both the 100 freestyle (46.02) and the 100 butterfly (48.89), becoming the first woman to break 49 seconds in the latter of the two events. In addition, MacNeil picked up a second place finish in the 50 freestyle and split 49.76 on the backstroke leg (not even her primary stroke! But more on this later) of Michigan’s 400 medley relay. For her efforts, MacNeil was named the CSCAA NCAA Female Swimmer of the Year. 

Following a strong NCAA performance, MacNeil exploded in Tokyo, claiming the Olympic gold medal in the 100 butterfly with a blistering time of 55.59 to break her own Canadian Record and become the 2nd fastest swimmer in history in the event. Showcasing her freestyle prowess, MacNeil also contributed a valuable 53.47 split to the Canadian women’s 400 freestyle relay, picking up a silver medal in the process. MacNeil managed to close out her first Olympics with a bronze medal as a member of the 4×100 medley relay, giving her a medal of each color. For her efforts, MacNeil was named the Best Female Athlete of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. 

After conquering the LCM and SCY pool, MacNeil showcased her strength in the SCM pool at the Short Course World Championships, putting up a dominant performance. MacNeil finished the meet with a total of 6 medals, including golds in the 100 butterfly, 50 backstroke, women’s 4×100 freestyle relay, and the mixed 4×50 freestyle relay. And, remember how we said she was a really good backstroker, MacNeil picked up her first world record in the 50 backstroke, swimming a time of 25.27 to chop over .3 off of the previous world record. Following her performance, MacNeil expressed her own disbelief of her first world record coming in a backstroke event. 

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Penny Oleksiak – After struggling on the international stage for a few years following her breakout at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Oleksiak found her rhythm in Tokyo claiming a silver medal and two bronze medals. At the Games, Oleksiak threw down best times in the 200 freestyle and 100 freestyle, claiming an individual bronze medal in the former of the two events. Despite missing the podium in the 100 free with a 4th place finish, she posted a time of 52.59, faster than her Canadian record and gold medal-winning time from Rio. With her performances in Tokyo, Oleksiak brought her lifetime total up to 7 Olympic medals, making her the most decorated Canadian Olympian of all time. 
  • Kylie Masse – Like the aforementioned Oleksiak, Masse also earned several medals in Tokyo, finishing the Games with 2 silver medals and one bronze. Individually, Masse picked up silver medals in both the 100 and 200 backstroke, finishing second to Australia’s Kaylee McKeown in both events. In 2021, Masse also broke Canadian records in both backstroke events, throwing down times of 57.70 in the 100 backstroke and 2:05.42 in the 200 backstroke, becoming the third woman to ever go a 57 in the 100 backstroke. At the 2021 Short Course World Championships, Masse earned 4 silver medals, making the podium in the 50, 100, and 200 back, along with contributing to Canada’s 400 medley relay team. 


Previous Winners 


In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Incredible season for Maggie starting with NCAA’s, Olympics and world’s. Clear cut for sure, however not due to lack of other competitors like in some years past, some awesome women (and girls… Summer), with amazing seasons showing Canada’s rise in the swimming world:
* Summer world 🥈 and multiple 🇨🇦 records
* Sydney world 🥇 and ISL performances
* Tessa world 🥇
* Ingrid Wilm #1 100 back in the world before world champs
* Kayla, Rebecca, and more …

In 2 years Swimswam has to do a “1st Decade Swammy’s” with all the same categories and maybe a few additional ones! Canada’s female has to be Masse, at least at this point. Medals at… Read more »

Reply to  Njones
1 year ago

There’s really little grounds for debating that the CAN women’s team are very much “major league” and USA women should be looking north as well as south-west with regards to peak rivals/competitors. This is NOT to say world beaters or major competitors will not come from elsewhere, far from it, just that these will tend to be more “isolated” cases or a couple/handful per country (or at most 1 relay) rather than the wider spread we are seeing from CAN or AUS. All 3 CAN female relays are certainly medal contenders at very minimum.

BTW, very much concur with your comments on Masse. Admirable consistency and was superb in Tokyo.

Neil Jones
Reply to  commonwombat
1 year ago

True on relays, top 3 nations somewhat solidified. However China and Sweden certainly will have something to say about that.

1 year ago

no surprise here- great SCY season, great LCM season, great SCM season

1 year ago

Congratulations to MacNeil, well deserved! Also impressed with Masse being the only Canadian swimmer to win 2 individual medals at Tokyo in addition to relay medal, excellent performances throughout ISL and multiple individual and relay medals at scm Worlds and several Canadian records set in 2021.

1 year ago

Canada has some very very good quality swimmers in the women’s side McNeil, Oleksiak, Masse, Ruck & McIntosh.

1 year ago

arguably best female swimmer this year

Reply to  matt
1 year ago

in the world

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  matt
1 year ago

Not for me. Only one individual Olympic event — to be the best swimmer in an Olympic year, you gotta deliver the goods in more than one individual event (or be Peaty-level dominant).

For example, Zhang Yufei was out-touched by MacNeil in the 100 fly, but then dropped a 2:03 gold-medal winning 200 fly. I’d argue that’s more impressive than MacNeil (even when you factor in MacNeil’s SCM performance — that 2:03 was like Agnel’s 1:43, mindblowingly brilliant without being very close to the WR).

2 individual Olympic golds + other medals > 1 individual Olympic gold, relay silver + bronze, some good short course performances (including WR). And there’s four women who fit that first description (Ledecky,… Read more »

Reply to  matt
1 year ago

One individual gold though. The Australian women (3) won 2 each plus a silver for Titmus and a bronze for McKeon. I’m not sure that a SC WR puts MacNeil ahead of them.

Reply to  matt
1 year ago

MacNeil is fantastic! But no, not even close. Emma was 0.14 behind MacNeil in the 100 fly, then won two other individual golds and two other relay golds and two other relay bronze plus a world record. She was also MVP of the World Cup.

Kaylee McKeown had two individual golds, a relay gold and a relay bronze plus a LCM world record (which, let’s be honest, is worth more than an SCM one).

Titmus had two individual golds and a silver plus a relay, almost taking down a crazy fast super suit WR.

Ledecky won two individual golds plus a silver and a relay as well.

There is literally no argument for MacNeil being best female swimmer of the… Read more »

Big Mac #1
1 year ago

A clear winner with some great honorable mentions

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After competing for the swim …

Read More »