2022 W. NCAAs Previews: Maggie MacNeil Chasing 45-Point in the 100 Free

2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships

Record Watch:

  • NCAA Record – 45.56, 3/18/17 Simone Manuel (Stanford)
  • NCAA Championship Record – 45.56, 3/18/17 Simone Manuel (Stanford)
  • American Record – 45.56, 3/18/17 Simone Manuel (Stanford)
  • U.S. Open Record – 45.56, 3/18/17 Simone Manuel (Stanford)
  • Defending Champion – Maggie MacNeil, Michigan – 46.02

The 100 free features a loaded field at this year’s NCAAs, featuring a few of the young stars in the NCAA. Virginia freshman Gretchen Walsh comes in as the #1 seed after swimming a personal best of 46.86 to win the ACC title last month. While it seems a little silly to nit-pick a freshman who went 46.8 in the 100 free, Walsh’s 100 at ACCs did leave room for improvement. After swimming a blistering personal best of 21.04 in the 50 free, Walsh took her 100 out in 22.34, a very reasonable opening split for her. However, Walsh came home in 24.52, 2.2 seconds slower than her first 50. That being said, it appears Walsh has more in the tank than her ACC performance would let on.

Although she’s not the #1 seed, Michigan senior Maggie MacNeil is the favorite in this event. MacNeil is the defending champion in the event, and has a long history of swimming at her best at NCAAs. Additionally, MacNeil’s personal best of 46.02, which she swam at NCAAs makes her the #3 performer all-time in the event. The swim also ties for the 4th-fastest performance of all-time.

All-Time 10 Performers, Women’s 100 Yard Free

  1. Simone Manuel, Stanford, 45.56
  2. Erika Brown, Tennessee, 45.83
  3. Maggie MacNeil, Michigan, 46.02
  4. (TIE) Mallory Comerford, Louisville/Anna Hopkin, Arkansas, 46.20
  5. Abbey Weitzeil, Cal, 46.29
  6. (TIE) Kate Douglass, Virginia/Olivia Smoliga, Georgia, 46.30
  7. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, Auburn, 46.61
  8. Siobhan Haughey, Michigan, 46.64

While it’s still unlikely that MacNeil can get down to Simone Manuel’s 45.56 record, it’s very plausible that she could become just the 3rd swimmer in history to crack 46 seconds in the 100 free. If MacNeil were to accomplish that, she would be the first women’s swimmer in history to be sub-50 in both the 100 fly and 100 back, and sub-46 in the 100 free.

We should note that there’s a huge absence from this year’s field: Virginia junior Kate Douglass. Douglass took 2nd last year, swimming a 46.30. She’s opted to swim the 200 breast this year, where she’s the top seed. That opens thing up significantly for MacNeil, who with Douglass’ absence, has the fastest personal best in the field by 0.84 seconds.

Cal senior Izzy Ivey finished 3rd last year, swimming her personal best of 46.95. She’s been 47.53, but has a history of putting up her top performances of the year at NCAAs, so she’ll be live to give the higher seeds a tough race.

NC State junior Katharine Berkoff is the #2 seed, coming in with a season and personal best of 46.89. She swam that time at ACCs, going up against Gretchen Walsh. Berkoff notably chose to race the 100 free over the 200 back on Saturday.

Stanford freshman Torri Huske is the #3 seed, coming in with her personal and season best of 47.07, which she swam at Pac-12s a few weeks ago. Stanford didn’t look like they were fully tapered for Pac-12s, so it will be interesting to see what Huske has in the tank for NCAAs.

Alabama senior Morgan Scott took 4th in the 100 free last year with a 47.48. Scott has already been faster this year, swimming a personal best of 47.32 at SECs. Another Alabama senior Kalia Antoniou, came in 5th last year, swimming a 47.64. Antoniou is the #11 seed this year with her season best of 47.67, just 0.03 seconds off her best time. The field is deeper this year than last, so Antoniou may have a harder time getting into the A final, unless she’s able to swim a best time in prelims, in which case she should make it.

Another Alabama swimmer, Cora Dupre (junior), is a returning A finalist. Dupre took 7th last year in 47.72, marking her personal best. She enters the meet as the 21st seed with her season best of 47.91. Like Antoniou, Dupre will need to be faster in order to make it back to the A final this year, given the deeper field.

Texas A&M sophomore Chloe Stepanek finished 8th in the 10o free last year, swimming a 48.30 after posting a 48.06 in prelims. Stepanek swam a personal best of 47.78 at SECs last month, which makes her the #17 seed coming into the meet.

USC senior Laticia Transom sat last season out during the COVID-19 pandemic but enters the meet as the #5 seed this year. Transom swam a personal best of 47.21 at Pac-12s a few weeks back, setting herself up nicely for a potential A finals appearance.

A pair of Buckeyes, Katherine Zenick and Amy Fulmer, both swam lifetime bests at the Big Ten Championships last month. The pair were right next to each other at the conference meet, with Zenick posting a 47.40, and Fulmer a 47.46. They’re the #7 and #8 seeds respectively.

Another swimmer to watch is Penn 5th year Lia Thomas, who enters the meet at the #10 seed in the event. Thomas is a transgender woman who was previously on the Penn men’s team before beginning hormone treatments. After some waffling on establishing new rules for transgender athletes, the NCAA decided to leave their current guidelines in place for this season. Thomas is well within those guidelines, and therefore, she has been cleared to compete at this meet.

That being said, it was notable that Thomas, who has a background as a distance swimmer, chose the 100 free over the 1650 free as her Saturday event for NCAAs. She did the same at the Ivy League Championships, winning the 100 free in a huge new personal best of 47.63. While the general consensus was that Thomas wasn’t very rested for Ivies, and while it’s possible that was the case, I’m not sure how likely it is with her background as a distance swimmer that she’ll be able to swim another significant personal best in the 100, just a month later.

Place Swimmer School Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Maggie MacNeil Michigan 47.10 46.02
2 Gretchen Walsh Virginia 46.86 46.86
3 Torri Huske Stanford 47.07 47.07
4 Katharine Berkoff NC State 46.89 46.89
6 Laticia Transom USC 47.21 47.21
5 Izzy Ivey California 47.53 46.95
7 Morgan Scott Alabama 47.32 47.32
8 Lia Thomas Penn 47.63 47.63

Darkhorse: Kylee Alons (NC State) – Alons was an A finalist last year, finishing 6th with a 47.71, which also stands as her personal best. Alons is seeded 65th this year, but don’t let that fool you. Her season best is only 49.34, which is from a dual meet. Alons didn’t race the 100 free at ACCs last month, instead racing the 100 back and 100 fly. If Alons is at the top of her game in Atlanta, she could absolutely find her way into the A final.

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3 months ago

Berkoff top 3, book it!

3 months ago

It’s just a shock to my system seeing :45 in the headlines talking about women’s 100 free. That’s just damn fast.

Big Mac #1
3 months ago

The goat and our queen

Negative Nora (they/them)
3 months ago

1 M. McNair MacNeil 46.26
2 Gretchen Walsh 46.59
3 Torri Huske 46.69

3 months ago

Correction, Gretchen did not win the ACC title, Kate Douglass did. However, Kate isn’t swimming this event which is why Gretchen is top seed

3 months ago

my pick has to be Maggie, she always puts up the times when they matter most

bob evans
3 months ago

1) Lia (hasn’t broken a sweat in the 100 FR yet this yr, def can drop a 46-low)
2) Huske
3) Maggie

Torri Stan
Reply to  bob evans
3 months ago

I think Lia wasn’t below 47 before she transitioned. It’ll take at least a 46 point something to win.

Reply to  Torri Stan
3 months ago

How many guy milers do you see ever swim the 100? They don’t bother to swim the sprints because there’s no point. Thomas’ split from her best 200 pre-transition is very likely her actual PB, for lack of swimming the 100. Make no mistake, her unfair advantages will have her up there with the best females.

3 months ago

1. Maggie
2. Berkoff
3. Walsh