2021 W. NCAA Picks: Douglass V. MacNeil Part 2 – The 100 Butterfly

2021 NCAA WOMEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

  • When: Wednesday, March 17 – Saturday, March 20, 2021
  • Where: Greensboro Aquatic Center / Greensboro, NC (Eastern Time Zone)
  • Prelims 10 AM / Finals 6 PM (Local Time)
  • Short course yards (SCY) format
  • Defending champion: Stanford (3x) – 2019 results
  • Streaming:
  • Championship Central
  • Psych Sheets
  • Live Results

WOMEN’S 100 BUTTERFLY

Maggie MacNeil, 2019 World Championships. Courtesy Joseph Kleindl

Michigan junior Maggie MacNeil is one of the fastest butterfliers in the world, having won the 2019 World Championship after her debut collegiate season. At the 2019 NCAA Championships, then-freshman MacNeil was runner-up to alum Louise Hansson with a sub-50 effort of 49.66.

With the pandemic putting the entire world on pause for nearly an entire year, MacNeil never got to follow up on her 2019 World title with an NCAA title in 2020, though a mid-season 49.26, tied as the fastest time in history, certainly gave her the pole position for that title.

The NCAA’s two other fastest butterfliers in history, USC’s Hansson and Tennessee’s Erika Brown, are now graduated, putting MacNeil in position to have a shot at winning a her first NCAA event title. MacNeil enters the meet with the fastest seed time on the psych sheets at 49.68, which she won the 2021 Big Ten title with. MacNeil also holds the fastest lifetime best at 49.26, which ties the NCAA and US Open records with Hansson. The Canadian native has been under 50 seconds in this event 8 times in her career, tied with Hansson as the most times under the barrier by a SCY female performer. Only one other swimmer has been under 50 seconds in this event this season: Virginia sophomore Kate Douglass.

At the 2020 UT Double Dual Finals, Douglass threw down a blazing 49.73, tying her as the 5th-fastest performer in history. Douglass was a prospective newcomer last year with a 2019-20 season best of 50.30, yet unfortunately never got the chance to swim at the cancelled 2020 NCAA Championships. With the versatile Douglass focusing solely on the sprint free events and the 100 fly, she could certainly have a chance to push MacNeil off the top spot on the podium. During this year’s conference championship bouts, Douglass took her race out in a 22.98 to win the ACC title while MacNeil had a stronger back-half by a half second to win the Big Ten title, closing in a 26.38. MacNeil and Douglass will also be racing each other in the 50 free and 100 free, raising the stakes for each duel throughout the meet.

The only freshman this season who could be featured in the 2021 NCAA final is Texas’ Olivia Bray, coming in with the #3 seeded time of 50.37. At the high school level, Bray threw down a 50.19 to break the then-NAG in March 2019, which now ranks 2nd all-time (only behind Torri Huske‘s 49.95 newly-minted NAG). At this year’s Big 12 Championships, Bray won the event title in a 51.05, which would rank 8th on the psych sheets. With a relaxed, elegant stroke and powerful underwaters, Bray will be a great addition to this year’s competitive 100 fly field.

Last season, Virginia’s Lexi Cuomo had a 51.51 season best as a freshman while NC State’s Kylee Alons was at a 52.12 after swimming 51.69 her freshman year in 2019. At the 2021 ACC Championships, sophomore Cuomo swam at lifetime best of 50.65 to touch 0.09s ahead of junior Alons, who also set a personal best at 50.74, for second. The day before at the championships, Alons won the 50 free title while Cuomo took second after a lights-out performance from lane one. While Alons is more known for her freestyle capabilities, Cuomo’s underwaters were what made her 50 free and 100 fly runner-up finishes a reality.

Cal junior and versatile sprinter Izzy Ivey is seeded in 6th at a 50.87, just ahead of Alabama junior Rhyan White, who holds the top NCAA seeds in both backstroke events. As both swimmers enter this event, both their chances of winning the battle against each other are equal. Ivey and White were both on-fire at their respective conference meets, with Ivey easily winning Pac-12s at 50.87 while White stormed SECs at 50.94. Ivey also added the 100 back and 100 free titles while White swept the backstroke events. Both swimmers have strong underwaters, yet Ivey has the upper-hand in her versatile sprinting skills while White will certainly want to build momentum heading into her backstroke events.

Seeded in eighth is Michigan junior Olivia Carter, who swam a personal best of 51.44 to place second and earn the Wolverines a 1-2 finish at the 2021 Big Ten Championships alongside teammate MacNeil. As a freshman with UGA, Carter placed 12th in the 2019 NCAA consolation final at 51.77 before finishing 7th in the 200 fly A-final. Carter is more of a 200 flyer with her 3rd seed in the 200 fly and 2019 World University Games silver medal to her name. Behind Carter is a quartet of freshman who will fight the junior for the 8th spot in the A-final.

Texas’ Emma Sticklen (51.49), Louisville’s Gabi Albiero (51.59), UCLA’s Sam Baron (51.65), and Virginia’s Abby Harter (51.73) all swam some of the fastest all-time freshman times this season, and are within striking distance of both A or B finals. Sticklen was the Big 12 runner-up to Bray while Baron was the Pac-12 runner-up to Ivey. Meanwhile, Albiero (4th) and Harter (8th) both placed in the ACC championship final. Texas A&M senior Taylor Pike also dropped from 52.89 to 51.71 to become the SEC runner-up to White and rank in the top-16 alongside the freshman group.

Official Top 8 Picks

Place Swimmer Team Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Maggie MacNeil Michigan 49.68 49.26
2 Kate Douglass Virginia 49.73 49.73
3 Olivia Bray Texas 50.37 50.19
4 Lexi Cuomo Virginia 50.65 50.65
5 Kylee Alons NC State 50.74 50.74
6 Rhyan White Alabama 50.94 50.80
7 Izzy Ivey Cal 50.87 50.82
8 Olivia Carter Michigan 51.44 51.44

Dark Horse Threat: Sarah Watson (JR), Akron (52.07 — 24th seed) — Akron is part of the Mid-American Conference, which is one of the few NCAA conferences that pushed their championships until after NCAAs. At the Akron Last Chance Meet at the end of February, Sarah Watson swam a season best of 52.07 to qualify for NCAAs. As a freshman, Watson placed 11th at the 2019 NCAAs at 51.73, which is right behind the middle-pack freshman group’s lifetime bests from this past month. Last season, Watson only managed a 52.93 season best. However, without the aid of MACs this past month, the Canadian native could make some noise for the mid-major programs.

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wow
1 month ago
  1. MacNeil 48.98 NCAA
  2. Douglass 49.44
  3. Ivey 50.49
  4. Bray 50.50 (seems focused and aimed on the 2Fly title and recent 100FL times support this)
  5. White 50.59 (feel wasn’t rested much at SECS – we will see)
  6. Alons 50.67
  7. Cuomo 50.98
  8. Albiero 51.31
Last edited 1 month ago by wow
Hswimmer
Reply to  wow
1 month ago

I think Cuomo will be quick. She’s been 22. Multiple times on relays

Anonymous
Reply to  wow
1 month ago

This seems more plausible to me. The MacNeil v. Douglass 3x matchup may play in favor of uVa points, but I don’t know if Douglass will be able to snatch an NCAA individual title.

frizzaly
1 month ago

I thought the 49.26 was tied as the fastest time, not the second fastest

About Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro started swimming at age 11, instantly becoming drawn to the sport. He was a breaststroker and IMer when competing. After joining SwimSwam, the site has become an outlet for him to research and learn about competitive swimming and experience the sport through a new lenses. He graduated in …

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