2021 Swammy Awards: NCAA Female Swimmer of the Year – Maggie MacNeil, Michigan

To see all of our 2021 Swammy Awards, click here.

2021 NCAA FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: MAGGIE MACNEIL, MICHIGAN

Michigan junior Maggie MacNeil is our NCAA Female Swimmer of the Year, thanks to her historic performances in the 2020-2021 season. MacNeil had an absolutely electric 2021 in the pool, earning her our Canadian Female Swimmer of the Year Swammy as well.

In the college season, MacNeil won a pair of NCAA titles, taking the 100 fly and 100 free. In the 100 fly, MacNeil shattered the NCAA Record, swimming a 48.89 to become the first woman in history to break 49 seconds in the event. The history would not stop there, however, as MacNeil also swam a 49.76 in the 100 back, breaking 50 seconds for the first time, and making her just the 2nd female ever to be sub-:50 in the 100 fly and 100 back.

MacNeil is a shockingly versatile sprinter, as she also won the 100 free with a 46.02, breaking the Michigan and Big Ten Records. The time makes MacNeil the #3 performer all-time in the 100 free, and her time is tied for the 4th-fastest performance of all-time.

MacNeil first individual event of the NCAA Championships was the 50 free, where she clocked a 21.17 for 2nd. She ended the season as the fastest performer in the NCAA in the 100 fly, 100 free, and 50 back, and the #2 performer in the 50 free and 100 back.

At the Big Ten Championships, MacNeil won the 50 free, 100 fly, and 100 free, and was a member of the winning 400 free relay. For her efforts, she won Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships, and later won Big Ten Swimmer of the Year. Following the NCAAs, MacNeil was named CSCAA Women’s Swimmer of the Year.

While this award only takes into account the NCAA season, we have to note that MacNeil went on to win Gold in the 100 fly at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. She ended 2021 by winning SC World Champs Gold in 4 events, including the 100 fly, and the 50 back, in which she shattered the World Record. After winning the SC Worlds 100 fly title, MacNeil became the first woman in history to hold the Olympic, LC Worlds, SC Worlds, and NCAA title in the same event simultaneously.

Honorable Mention

In no particular order

  • Paige Madden, UVA – Madden was the only swimmer last season to win all 3 of her individual events at NCAAs, taking the 200 free, 500 free, and 1650 free. She also helped the UVA 800 free relay to victory on opening night of NCAAs, bringing her total number of titles to 4. In addition to winning the 200, 500, and 1650, Madden ended the season as the fastest performer in the NCAA in all 3 events. For Madden, it wasn’t just about the fact that she won those races, how she won is just as impressive. Madden won the 1650 free by 5 seconds, the 500 by 1.4 seconds, and the 200 free by 1.1 seconds, marking 3 comfortable victories at the biggest meet in the NCAA.
  • Kate Douglass, UVA – Douglass is one of the most versatile swimmers we’ve ever seen in the NCAA. She won the 50 free at NCAAs, breaking the ACC Record with a 21.09. While that was her only individual NCAA title, she ended the season as the fastest swimmer in the NCAA in the 200 IM. Douglass was also the #2 performer last season in the 100 free, 100 fly, and 200 breast. Douglass was also a pivotal member of the UVA 200 medley relay at ACCs, which broke the NCAA Record.
  • Sophie Hansson, NC State – Hansson isn’t as versatile as some of the other swimmers on this list, but nonetheless, she had a stellar season. She swept the breaststroke events at NCAAs, breaking the ACC Record in both events. She also helped NC State to its NCAA Record-breaking 400 medley relay, posting a blistering 57.01 breaststroke split. With her win in the 100 breast, Hansson won NC State’s first individual NCAA title in program history. She also swept the breast events at ACCs for the 3rd year in a row.
  • Alex Walsh, UVA – Walsh won the 200 IM at NCAAs, winning the race by 1.5 seconds. She also finished 5th in the 200 free and 200 breast. Additionally, Walsh ended the 2020-2021 NCAA season with 5 top 10 times. In the end, she was the #2 200 IM’er in the NCAA last season, #8 in the 200 breast, and #9 in the 200 free, 200 back, and 100 breast. Walsh would go on to win Silver in the 200 IM at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Previous Winners

  • 2013 – Katinka Hosszu
  • 2014 – Brittany MacLean, Georgia
  • 2015 – Missy Franklin, Cal
  • 2016 – Lilly King, Indiana
  • 2017 – Katie Ledecky, Stanford
  • 2018 – Ella Eastin, Stanford
  • 2019 — Beata Nelson, Wisconsin
  • 2020 — Erika Brown, Tennessee

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Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
4 months ago

where do we think shes gna transfer next year?

HOO love
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
4 months ago

UVA

Kat
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
4 months ago

Cal

Hswimmer
4 months ago

Why doesn’t madden get this award since she won all of her events?

jeff
Reply to  Hswimmer
4 months ago

Madden might’ve been the top scorer but the times overall were pretty lacking, at least compared to winners of the events in previous years.

She is 18th, 14th, and 21st all time in the 200/500/1650 (and her 500 free at NCAAs this year was about 0.6 off her PB) while MacNeil PBed in all 3 events and is now 1st, 3rd, and 4th all time in the 100 fly/100 free/50 free.

tbh even if MacNeil were out of contention and I were giving the award, I would probably give it to Douglass over Madden

Last edited 4 months ago by jeff
Breezeway
4 months ago

“Isn’t as versatile as some of the other swimmers on this list”?

katie’s gator cap :)
4 months ago

what a queen 👑👑

matt
4 months ago

why doesnt maggie swim im

Mike
Reply to  matt
4 months ago

I guess the team wants her to focus on sprint events and that would set her up for relays.

Jackman
Reply to  matt
4 months ago

breastroke hard

ScovaNotiaSwimmer
Reply to  matt
4 months ago

She doesn’t generally swim 200s due to her asthma. I think she did 100 IM somewhere this year?

Kat
Reply to  ScovaNotiaSwimmer
4 months ago

She did in berlin for fina world cup and she ended up finishing 4th in 1min something in the final.

Big Mac #1
4 months ago

Fantastic swimmer, well deserved.

jeff
4 months ago

she’s only the second ever to be both sub 47 in the 100 free and sub 50 in the 100 back, and that’s not even counting her 100 fly or how close she is to breaking 46 in 100 free.

Has anyone ever swept the 100 back, fly, and free at NCAAs before? Because I think she legitimately could do it

Last edited 4 months ago by jeff
Big Mac #1
Reply to  jeff
4 months ago

She could but also I would like to see her race a 200 IM legit. Her front 100 would probably be super fast and depending on her training, her las 50 could be blazing. Idk about her breast.

Last edited 4 months ago by Big Mac #1
There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  jeff
4 months ago

Coughlin probably could’ve done so if she swam 100 free instead of 200 back, e.g. in 2003 Coughlin was 47.00 when a 47.29 won NCAAs.

Also MacNeil would have the small task of taking down Regan Smith in the 100 back…

jeff

oh yeah if I had to bet on who would win the 100 back between the two, I would be going with Regan Smith for sure, its just that if anyone can do it right now, its MacNeil.

in a few years, I bet Curzan would have a decent shot at doing it though

Horksnss

I’m sorry but Regan has no chance against MacNeil in a SCY 100 bk. At SC worlds MacNeil made Masse a 57 LCM back stoker look average going the 3rd fastest time in history. Obviously MacNeil has no chance LC but were talking NCAA.