2022 Commonwealth Games Previews: Triple Mac Attack In Women’s Fly

2022 COMMONWEALTH GAMES

  • Friday, July 29 – Wednesday, August 3, 2022
  • Birmingham, England
  • Sandwell Aquatic Center
  • Start Times
    • Prelims: 10:30 am local / 5:30 am ET
    • Finals: 7:00 pm local / 2:00 pm ET
  • LCM (50m)
  • Meet Central
  • Event Schedule
  • Entry List
  • Entries (in seed order) – h/t to Troyy

The women’s butterfly events at the Commonwealth Games will be highlighted by the Mac trio: Maggie MacNeilEmma McKeon and Summer McIntosh.

Each swimmer comes into the Games with a unique storyline. MacNeil is racing individually after only taking on relay events at the World Championships last month, McKeon opted to sit out of Worlds, and McIntosh is coming off a phenomenal performance in Budapest that included winning two individual titles and four total medals.

In the fly races, MacNeil and McKeon will be the ones going head-to-head in the 50 and 100-meter events, while McIntosh is the huge favorite in the 200 after winning the world title in a World Junior Record of 2:05.20.

Given that we’ve only received glimpses of MacNeil this year and nothing from McKeon makes their head-to-head clash in the 100 fly an intriguing battle, with two other Australians capable of working their way into the mix if the Macs aren’t at their best.

WOMEN’S 50 BUTTERFLY

  • Commonwealth Record: 25.20, Francesca Halsall (ENG), 2014 Commonwealth Games
  • Commonwealth Games Record: 25.20, Francesca Halsall (ENG), 2014
  • 2018 Commonwealth Champion: Cate Campbell (AUS), 25.59

Despite upsetting Sarah Sjostrom and winning a breakout world title in the 100 fly, Maggie MacNeil was not a factor in the women’s 50 fly at the 2019 World Championships, failing to make the final in 14th place.

Emma McKeon is in a similar boat. A top-tier swimmer in the 100 fly and the 50, 100 and 200 free, the 50 fly has never been an event she seriously pursued, with not only a packed schedule of individual races, but also relay duties at every major international competition.

McKeon owns a best time of 25.87, set in March 2020, and has essentially been the same time opening up the 100 fly (25.96 at the 2021 Olympic Trials). MacNeil broke 26 seconds for the first time at this year’s Mare Nostrum stop in Canet (25.97).

While neither McKeon or MacNeil have ever truly focused on this race, they seem to be the frontrunners (and capable of going faster than their career bests), but the swimmer with the best 50 fly pedigree in the field is veteran Holly Barratt.

Barratt, 34, won this race at the Australian Championships in May, clocking 26.02, and has been sub-26 13 times in her career, most recently in January of this year when she was 25.87. She was also the 2018 silver medalist.

The third Aussie entrant, Alexandria Perkins, swam a best time of 26.18 in May, while Canadian Katerine Savard swam her fastest time in six years (26.14) to take 13th at the World Championships.

South Africa’s Erin Gallagher was a finalist four years ago, placing seventh, and should also be a medal contender after clocking 26.39 in April. Harriet Jones of Wales owns a best of 26.34 and has been 26.48 this year, too.

SwimSwam’s Predictions

Rank Name Country Season-Best Lifetime Best
1 Holly Barratt Australia 25.87 25.31
2 Emma McKeon Australia N/A 25.87
3 Maggie MacNeil Canada 25.97 25.97
4 Katerine Savard Canada 26.14 25.92
5 Alexandria Perkins Australia 26.18 26.18

WOMEN’S 100 BUTTERFLY

  • Commonwealth Record: 55.59, Maggie MacNeil (CAN), 2021 Olympic Games
  • Commonwealth Games Record: 56.78, Emma McKeon (AUS), 2018
  • 2018 Commonwealth Champion: Emma McKeon (AUS), 56.78

MacNeil has gotten the better of McKeon by a narrow margin in their last two major championship head-to-head races in the 100 fly, claiming gold at the 2019 Worlds and 2021 Olympics with McKeon settling for bronze both times out.

Here, McKeon comes in as the defending champion, but her form remains a question mark as we haven’t seen her race this year. MacNeil clocked 57.13 at the Canadian Trials, and despite opting out of individual events at the World Championship, we saw her split 56.80 on Canada’s bronze medal-winning 400 medley relay.

The only finalist from the 2022 World Championships who will be in the field is Australia’s Brianna Throssell, who cracked 57 twice in Budapest, establishing a best of 56.96 in the semis before placing sixth in the final in 56.98.

The Canadian duo of Savard and Rebecca Smith were both semi-finalists at Worlds, as was England’s Laura Stephens. Among that trio, Savard is the fastest this year, clocking 57.86 in April and then 57.98 at Worlds. Australia’s Perkins is also in the conversation after clocking 58.39 in May.

With a negligible difference in their personal best times, we’ll give MacNeil the slight edge given she’s had more racing under her belt in recent months.

SwimSwam’s Predictions

Rank Name Country Season-Best Lifetime Best
1 Maggie MacNeil Canada 57.13 55.59
2 Emma McKeon Australia N/A 55.72
3 Brianna Throssell Australia 56.96 56.96
4 Katerine Savard Canada 57.86 57.27
5 Rebecca Smith Canada 58.15 57.59

WOMEN’S 200 BUTTERFLY

  • Commonwealth Record: 2:03.41, Jessicah Schipper (AUS), 2009 World Championships
  • Commonwealth Games Record: 2:05.45, Alys Thomas (WAL), 2014
  • 2018 Commonwealth Champion: Alys Thomas (WAL), 2:05.45

While the 50 and 100-meter events could well come down to the touch, the 200 fly has a clear favorite in Summer McIntosh.

The reigning world champion swam to a time of 2:05.20 last month in Budapest, putting her nearly two seconds clear of the next-fastest swimmer in the field in terms of 2022 times.

Placing fifth at the World Championships was rising Australian star Elizabeth Dekkers, who got faster in each of the three rounds to finish off with a personal best time of 2:07.01.

England’s Stephens was 10th in the semis in 2:08.47 after going 2:07-low at Mare Nostrum, while another Australian youngster, 17-year-old Abbey Connor, swam a PB of 2:08.58 in May and then placed 12th in her Worlds debut.

Throssell, who was out-touched by Connor for second at the Australian Championships in 2:08.71, has 10 career swims sub-2:08 and could lean on her experience to come away with a medal after finishing fifth in 2018.

Defending champion Alys Thomas of Wales, now 31, has only been 2:11.51 this year, a far cry from her winning time of 2:05.45 four years ago. She was 2:07.90 at the Olympics 12 months ago, and she’ll likely need to be at least that to have a chance at the podium.

SwimSwam’s Predictions

Rank Name Country Season-Best Lifetime Best
1 Summer McIntosh Canada 2:05.20 2:05.20
2 Elizabeth Dekkers Australia 2:07.01 2:07.01
3 Laura Stephens England 2:07.12 2:07.04
4 Abbey Connor Australia 2:08.58 2:08.58
5 Brianna Throssell Australia 2:08.64 2:06.58

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commonwombat
4 months ago

Outside the female relays, McIntosh in 200fly is one of the safest bets on the program. Dekkers should pick up silver; it will be interesting if she can make some further progress from Budapest. Bronze looks open; on paper I would suspect it’s between Stephens and Throssel.

The composition of 100 podium looks fairly clear cut; the only issue being who fills the top spot. On paper, one would lean McNeill but we’ve seen little fly of consequence from her this year and significantly less from McKeon. Whilst we’d love to see something top drawer from either/both; I’m not sure we will see it. I can go along with SS prediction.

50 looks a total lottery, am insufficiently brave to… Read more »

João Abreu
4 months ago

I was expecting McKeon to swim the 200 free, but instead she chose the 50 fly… will see, hope she wins it.

Troyy
Reply to  João Abreu
4 months ago

She wasn’t pre selected for 200 free because she didnt medal in it in Tokyo (didn’t even swim it).

Sub13
Reply to  Troyy
4 months ago

Even if she had the option, she knows she can’t win it. Why do the 200 which is realistically a bronze at best when she can do the 50 fly and potentially win.

João Abreu
Reply to  Troyy
4 months ago

But why was she pre selected for the 50 fly? She hasn’t swam that event in a while as well…

Troyy
Reply to  João Abreu
4 months ago

Only top 2 at trials got the QT so the third spot was still available for her. The 200 on the other hand had many under the QT.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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