2022 CANADIAN FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: MAGGIE MACNEIL
The 2022 Canadian Female Swimmer of the Year award goes to Maggie MacNeil. This is MacNeil’s 3rd-straight year winning this award.
In 2023, MacNeil dealt with more adversity and change this year than she has in years past. While swimming for Michigan, she opened 2022 with three individual Big Ten Championship titles in the 50 free (21.32), 100 free (47.10), and 100 fly (49.74). She went to NCAAs, where she grabbed 3rd place in both the 50 free (21.38) and 100 fly (49.18).
While a good performance by both standards, given her NCAA Championship and record-setting history, it was a bit flat. We later learned that she fractured her elbow in a pool-deck slip. Her injury from NCAAs put her on kicking-only duty for the spring, but with a gutsy performance at Canadian Trials in April, she still managed to qualify for their World Championship and Commonwealth Games team in a relay-only capacity.
Meanwhile, MacNeil also dealt with uncertainty surrounding coaching and program changes this year. She originally entered the transfer portal after Rick Bishop, her primary coach at Michigan, took the head coach position at LSU. In late March, she announced that she would be using her final year of eligibility at Cal, which at the time was led by head coach Teri McKeever. Following McKeever’s forced leave of absence on allegations of abuse at Cal, MacNeil shifted her commitment to LSU in June, where she would be reunited with Bishop. In the meantime, she was back home in Toronto training at the High Performance Center there, making for a whirlwind year.
In July at the 2022 World Championships in Budapest, MacNeil helped Canada to a silver medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay and a bronze medal in the 4×100 medley relay, splitting a 56.80 on the butterfly leg.
At the Commonwealth Games in August, MacNeil added two individual events back into her schedule, highlighted by a gold medal in the 100 fly with a time of 56.36, marking a new Championship record. She also swam the 50 fly in Birmingham, where she finished just off the podium in 4th with a 26.17. She continued to be a key member of Canada’s relays, as she contributed to their 4×100 freestyle relay and the mixed 4×100 freestyle relay, both of which grabbed bronze. She was the fly leg of both the women’s 4×100 medley relay and mixed 4×100 medley relay, which both picked up silver medals.
MacNeil has had a strong start to her first, and only, season at LSU this fall. Through the Art Adamson Invitational in November, she has remained undefeated in all of the individual events she has raced. Her highlights at LSU so far include briefly holding the fastest un-suited 100 fly time at 50.84, tying the SEC record in the 50 free with a 21.03, and clocking the fastest 50 fly split ever in a 21.85.
MacNeil capped off the year at the 2022 SC World Championships with arguably her best performance yet, as she notched three gold medals and two world records. She first tied with Torri Huske for gold in the 50 fly with a 24.64. She then won the 50 backstroke in a 25.25, breaking her own World Record time. She ended her meet with the 100 fly, where she recorded a 54.09, obliterating the previous World Record of 54.59 set by Kelsi Dahlia. In addition to her individual performances, she was also a key member of Canada’s 4×100 freestyle relay, 4×100 medley relay, and 4×50 mixed medley relay, all of which took bronze.
- Summer McIntosh: The 16-year-old shook up the international stage this summer, while also making her presence known in the U.S. as a short course yards swimmer in the fall. In Budapest, she earned a silver medal in the 400m freestyle (3:59.39), and gold medals in the 200 fly (2:05.20) and 400 IM (4:32.04). She moved to the United States to train with the Sarasota YMCA Sharks, and attended both the U.S. Open and Speedo Winter Junior Championships (East). At Winter Juniors, McIntosh became the 2nd-fastest performer in the 500 free with a 4:27.52, and the 7th-fastest performer in the 200 free with a 1:40.63. All in all, she came away with four individual victories and five meet records.
- Kylie Masse: After cruising through the Canadian Trials in April with a slew of best times, Masse picked up a gold medal in the 50m backstroke World Championships with a final time of 27.31. She also picked up silver in the 100 back (58.40), while also leading off Canada’s bronze medal 4×100 medley relay. She went on to win gold again in the 50 back (27.31), and silver in the 100 (59.73) and 200 back (2:07.81) at the Commonwealth Games in August. At the SC World Championships this month, Masse earned a bronze medal in the 200 back with a personal best time of 2:01.26. She has announced that she will be making the full-time move to Spain to continue to train with Ben Titley.
Taylor Ruck is worth a mention. She’s overcame so much this last year, and was back better than ever!
Best Canadian overall, no, but come back of the year for sure. #1 is that she has improved her mental and physical health, can end there. As for swimming from a fan perspective, that she remained an important leg in multiple relays and had decent individual success is promising and exciting. If she can return to anywhere near her 51.7 (s) and 154 speed, Canada’s free relays could be right in the mix with Aus, US, China in 23 and most importantly 24.
Maggie indeed had a great year, capped off by her recent success at the Short Course Championships. But I’m surprised the award didn’t go to Summer. She had great performances throughout the entire year, and in so many different events. I think her overall body of success and consistency at the highest levels should have resulted in her being the winner.
The beauty of this debate for Canadian swim fans is that we are actually talking about NOT awarding the Swammy to a 2 time world record holder! In what other year ever have we had so many strong world class women that the choice comes down to an athlete who has been on an international podium for 8 straight years, a multi Junior world record holder scaring the bejizus out of a host of the best event specialists in the world, and arguably the best ‘winner’ of an event over the past 4 years topped off with a couple world records to boot!
I don’t think there is anything wrong with this choice. Summer did a lot of great things in a lot of events but at the end of the day Maggie broke 2 world records which essentially ends the conversation in my opinion. Maggie is the GOAT and Summer is the Future GOAT but she isn’t at the moment.
I still think McIntosh’s achievements are more impressive than the 2 SCM world records- she’s already firmly established herself as the best LCM 400 IMer in the world, as well as among the best in the 200/400 free, 200 fly, and 200 IM. In terms of short course, McIntosh had some crazy swims too, perhaps not on the level of Maggie’s but that truly was a crazy 500 free time
Don’t look down upon short cours meter, I remind you that summer also swam short course meters and didn’t break any world records
Maggie’s great but I’m stunned it’s not Summer.
It almost smacks of gross inconsistency after claiming Maggie a clear SOTM at SC Worlds NOT to have her an obvious Canadian Swimmer of the Year of either gender but …… in all honesty, this should go to Summer.
Maybe there is an inherant bias LC > SC but Maggie’s successes were primarily SC whereas Summer’s yearly CV has LC World titles/CG LC titles as well as world ranking performances in the SC pool (even if she did not go to SC Worlds).
In another year, this may well have been a no-contest for Maggie but in the wider context of performance, I view Summer has having the better year.
SwimSwam. You do realize that Maggie spells her last name Mac Neil, with a space between the ”c” and ”N,” yes? I hope moving forward you can spell her last name correctly. She deserves at least that much.