2022 Women’s B1G Fan Guide: Will MacNeil Propel Michigan To The Top Again?

2022 B1G Women’s Championships

The Big Ten Conference will look a little different this year as it is the first year without the Michigan State women in 51 years after their program was cut last year. Ohio State has won the last two championships, but Michigan has a strong freshman class.

COVID-19 may have slight impacts on the meet as swimmers may have gotten the virus or been in close contact which would result in them missing some practice. time Multiple Big Ten meets were canceled this season due to COVID-19.

Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil will most likely go undefeated this year in her events. The team’s freshman class also has the potential to make a huge impact especially from sprinter Lindsay Flynn and versatile Letitia Sim (although she most likely will swim the breaststroke events).

Ohio State had 422 of their points from seniors last year but their top two points scorers who were seniors both returned. The school’s freshman class has the potential to score a few points, but not as much potential as Michigan’s freshman class has.

Indiana will be without breaststroker Emily Weiss as she announced her medical retirement at the beginning of the year. Distance freestyler Mariah Denigan has the potential to make a big impact.

Northwestern has finished fourth the last two years scoring a program record of 992 points last year. They return both Sophie Angus and Maddie Smith as they took their fifth year allowed due to COVID-19. Those two were huge points scorers for the team last year as they totaled 134.5 points. Wisconsin though has the potential to pass the Wildcats and move up from fifth in the conference as 2020 US Olympian Phoebe Bacon is the Big Ten’s top time coming into the conference championships in the 200 backstroke and 200 IM. The team is also boosted by freshman distance freestyler Paige McKenna.

Minnesota returns NCAA Champion diver Sarah Bacon, and Purdue will look to continue their strength through the diving events and outlast Penn State.

Iowa is under a small roster after being cut then reinstated last year. Rutgers now has returned their roster after most redshirted last season.

Schedule

Wednesday

  • 200 medley relay
  • 800 free relay

Thursday

  • 200 IM
  • 50 freestyle
  • 500 freestyle
  • 400 medley relay

Friday

  • 100 butterfly
  • 400 IM
  • 200 freestyle
  • 100 breaststroke
  • 100 backstroke
  • 200 freestyle relay

Saturday

  • 200 backstroke
  • 100 freestyle
  • 200 breaststroke
  • 200 butterfly
  • 1650 freestyle (timed finals)
  • 400 freestyle relay

Stars

Illinois – Abby Cabush (senior sprinter), Cara Bognar (sophomore distance). Cabush has gone best times this year in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyles and is currently projected to score 11 points in the 200 freestyle. Bognar also has gone a best time this season in the event she is projected to score 11 points in the 400 IM.

Indiana – Anna Peplowski (freshman back/free), Mac Looze (senior IM), Mariah Denigan (freshman distance free), Noelle Peplowski (senior free), Brearna Crawford (freshman breast/IM). Crawford, Looze, and N. Peplowski are projected to go 2-3-4 in the 200 breaststroke which would be huge for the Hoosiers after defending champion Emily Weiss medically retired. Freshman Mariah Denigan will look to score many points in the distance freestyle events.

Iowa – The Iowa roster only lists 13 girls on it including four divers.

Michigan –  Maggie MacNeil (senior free/back/fly), Olivia Carter (senior fly), Letitia Sim (freshman breast/IM), Kathryn Ackerman (sophomore IM/free). Maggie MacNeil will make a huge impact for Michigan as she is projected to win the 100 free, 100 fly, and 100 back. Olivia Carter will look to defend her title in the 200 butterfly. Freshman Letitia Sim helps fill the breaststroke gap as Michigan had no one final in either breaststroke events last year.

Minnesota – Megan Van Berkom (sophomore IM/fly), Hannah Cornish (freshman freestyle), Sarah Bacon (senior diving). Van Berkom was in the A final of the 400 IM last year but will be the top seed this year. Bacon has the chance to score huge points in diving.

Nebraska – Autumn Haebig (senior free/back), Shannon Stott (senior fly/free). Haebig has the potential to make an impact in the mid-distance freestyle events and Stott is projected to be on the cusp of the 200 butterfly A final.

Northwestern – Maddie Smith (senior sprinter), Hannah Brunzell (junior breast), Jasmine Nocentini (sophomore sprinter), Lola Mull (sophomore distance free). Smith and Nocentini may be the best sprinting duo in the Big Ten besides Michigan’s MacNeil and Flynn. Nocentini transferred to Northwestern this year and has strengthened the sprint group. Smith coming back for a fifth year also makes a huge impact. Brunzell leads a great breaststroke group that also includes Sophie Angus and Tara Vovk.

Ohio State – Amy Fulmer (junior free), Katherine Zenick (sophomore free), Kristen Romano (senior IM), Sally Tafuto (senior free), Emily Crane (graduate free/back). Romano was the team’s highest points scorer last year and is projected to be around the A final in the IM events this year. Amy Fulmer is projected to be second in the 100 freestyle only behind Maggie MacNeil. Tafuto is projected to be the top seed in the 500 freestyle.

Penn State – Marie Schobel (senior back), Catherine Stanford (sophomore sprint free). Schobel is projected to be in the A final of the 200 backstroke and on the cusp of the A final in the 100 backstroke. Stanford will help both the individual sprint freestyles as well as the relays.

Purdue – Maycy Folcik (sophomore breaststroke), Madeline Greaves (freshman IM/fly), Lindsay Turner (junior fly), Maycey Vieta (junior diving), Maggie Merriman (senior diving), Emily Pfeiffer (senior diving). Vieta, Merriman, and Pfeiffer all scored the most points for Purdue last year through diving. Folcik is #4 in school history in the 100 breaststroke and is on the cusp of the A final and will help out the medley relays.

Rutgers – Sofia Lobova (freshman fly/free), Sofia Chichaikina (junior fly/free), Abigail Knapton (fifth year diving). Combining the two, and Rutgers is projected to score in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyles as well as the 100 and 200 butterfly. Knapton won platform and the 1 meter last year and was runner up in the 3 meter so she has the potential to boost Rutgers there.

Wisconsin – Phoebe Bacon (sophomore back/IM), Mackenzie McConagha (freshman backstroke), Paige McKenna (freshman, distance free), Mallory Jump (junior fly/IM), Kaylyn Schoof (sophomore fly/back). Bacon will look to defend her titles in the 100 and 200 backstrokes. The team could potentially have three A finalists in the 100 backstroke as well. Paige McKenna has the fastest time in the 1650 freestyle this season in the conference by almost 10 seconds.

Showdowns

100 Backstroke: Phoebe Bacon vs Maggie MacNeil

Bacon made the US Olympic Team in the 200 long course meters backstroke. MacNeil broke the World Record in the 50 short course meters backstroke back in December 2021. The 100 backstroke short course yards meets in the middle. MacNeil did not swim in the event at last year’s championships but this year is different as teammate Flynn has the #2 time (behind MacNeil) in the 50 freestyle this season in the conference. MacNeil may opt to swim the 100 backstroke instead of the 50 freestyle. Bacon won the event last year at the championships and will look to defend her crown.

200 IM: Letitia Sim vs Phoebe Bacon

Bacon and Sim are the top two projections in the 200 IM. Bacon won the head-to-head battle at the Michigan-Minnesota-Wisconsin tri-meet last month by over 2 seconds. Expect this race to be much closer.

200 freestyle relay

Last year, OSU topped Michigan in the relay, winning in a time of 1:27.53. Michigan swam to second in a time of 1:27.99. This year’s top relay looks to be between the two teams again. OSU returns 3 out of their 4 legs as they only graduated Taylor Petrak who led off last year in a 22.04. Michigan also returns 3 out of their 4 legs as only Daria Pyshnenko graduated. Pyshnenko did not swim at NCAA’s last year so Michigan has already gone through a championship meet without her on the relay. Michigan has multiple options for this relay, and may end up switching Olivia Carter out as well.

Selections

The Swimulator does not factor into diving points, which will become a factor in the final outcome especially for teams like Purdue and Minnesota. Defending champion Ohio State is projected lower than Michigan, even though the OSU women also beat the Michigan women in a dual meet last month. Ohio State has also been projected below Michigan the past two championships, but ended up winning the conference title. The difference between the last two years and this year is the scoring roster switching from 24 to 18 which may have an impact on Ohio State which is known for its depth.

There is quite a fall off after the sixth team Minnesota, meaning that the top 6 are definitely right, but are most likely to finish in a different order. Emily Weiss is still factored into the Swimulator scoring 41 points, which is just slightly above the point differential between Indiana and Wisconsin.

Swimulator

  1. Michigan 1147.5
  2. Ohio State 1074.5
  3. Indiana 1061.5
  4. Wisconsin 1013
  5. Northwestern 812.5
  6. Minnesota 722
  7. Nebraska 384
  8. Penn St 372.5
  9. Purdue 287.5
  10. Rutgers 202
  11. Illinois 197
  12. Iowa 152

SwimSwam Picks

  1. Michigan
  2. Ohio State
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Indiana
  5. Northwestern
  6. Minnesota
  7. Purdue
  8. Nebraska
  9. Penn St
  10. Illinois
  11. Rutgers
  12. Iowa

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Swimfan
4 months ago

This aged poorly

Mike
4 months ago

You pick MacNeil to win the 100 back. My guess is that she avoids Bacon and swims one event day each day. In 2019 she did the 100 fly 100 back double and finished second in the 100 back. She will swim the 50 free, 100 fly and 100 free. This will keep her fresher for the 200 free relay on Friday. With as close as this meet could be, Michigan will need all the relay points they can muster.

DMSWIM
4 months ago

Rutgers has the defending Big 10 champion on 1 meter and platform and last year’s SEC champion on platform on their team and the divers don’t even get a mention? Rutgers is ranked ahead of Illinois on the swimulator predictions that don’t factor in diving, but when you consider diving and add in two of the top divers in the conference they somehow fall below Illinois?
Also, I agree that Iowa was disrespected. This was a poorly researched article.

Former Big10
Reply to  DMSWIM
4 months ago

Legit the only team, in any write up, that has no individual swimmer mentioned. This “write up” is also far less in depth than the other conferences.
I get that maybe the Big10 isn’t as glamorous as the ACC/PAC/SEC… but we’ve still got Olympians and NCAA champions.

swimapologist
Reply to  Former Big10
4 months ago

Watching in real time as Iowa fans realize just how bad their team is this year…

It’s like a slow motion trainwreck.

Former Big10
Reply to  swimapologist
4 months ago

Look, I get it. I went there, and swam for that awful staff, and athletics department. Part of me is happy, most of me is sad—about the train wreck.

Doesn’t mean the current group of ladies should be ignored. Regardless of their swimming/diving abilities.

urahrah
Reply to  Former Big10
4 months ago

I agree. The girls that stayed deserve to be recognized. What they are doing competing at conference with so few girls on the team is not an easy thing to do.

Swimdad21
Reply to  swimapologist
4 months ago

Thats a crappy thing to say…..its not the girls fault their team was torn apart.

DMSWIM
Reply to  DMSWIM
4 months ago

Just saw that Abby Knapton got added to the write up. Thank you for the update!

Elle
4 months ago

Northwestern has Ashley Strouse (1:45/4:41/16:01). You all really forgot about her? She was ranked on top 20 for 2021 all 3 years

urahrah
Reply to  Elle
4 months ago

And where the heck is Abby Carlson? She’s won every single dual meet 200 free for Wisconsin and A-finaled at the MN invite.

Chris Pillen
4 months ago

Psych sheet out yet?

Big Mac #1
4 months ago

Yes, yes she will.

Klorn8d
4 months ago

Ohio state has repeatedly shown they’re built for this meet. They’ll dominate again

Big Mac #1
Reply to  Klorn8d
4 months ago

But not for ncaas

Former Big10
4 months ago

Rutgers was really improving in the rankings, prior to last year. They’ll surprise, same with Nebraska.

Couldn’t even write something on the best swimmer from Iowa? Kinda disrespectful.

Top 4 teams are pretty set, but NU has had a really great last couple of years.

Expecting MN to underperform, or is that expected now? 🙃

About Anya Pelshaw

Anya Pelshaw

Anya has been with SwimSwam since June 2021 as both a writer and social media coordinator. She was in attendance at the 2022 Women's NCAA Championships writing and doing social media for SwimSwam. Currently, Anya is pursuing her B.A. in Government & Law and Economics at Lafayette College. There she is …

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