2022 Women’s MAC Fan Guide: Akron Out For Redemption

2022 MAC Women’s Championships

The Akron women came into the 2021 Mid-American Conference Championships as the seven-time defending champions, but in what can only be described as a massive upset, the University of Buffalo pulled out an epic victory for their first title in school history.

The Bulls edged out the Zips by just seven points, sealing the victory by claiming the meet-ending 400 free relay. While it should be noted the meet took place later than usual (April) due to COVID-19, nothing can be taken away from Buffalo’s win.

This year, however, Akron is projected to dominate, and it will take another special effort from Buffalo to keep things interesting, especially having lost three of their top six scorers from last season’s championships to graduation.

SCHEDULE

Wednesday

  • 200 medley relay
  • 800 free relay

Thursday

  • 500 free
  • 200 IM
  • 50 free
  • 1-meter diving
  • 200 free relay

Friday

  • 100 fly
  • 400 IM
  • 200 free
  • 100 breast
  • 100 back
  • 400 medley relay

Saturday

  • 1650 free
  • 200 back
  • 100 free
  • 200 breast
  • 200 fly
  • 3-meter diving
  • 400 free relay

STARS & SHOWDOWNS

Star: Nicole Maier, Miami (OH) – Miami’s Nicole Maier burst onto the scene last year with a dominant freshman performance, winning the 500 free (4:39.96) and 400 IM (4:11.30) in conference record time. She’s far and away the MAC’s top swimmer this season in the 200 free (1:45.99), 500 free (4:42.60) and 400 IM (4:12.59), but would face a daunting double on Friday if she opted to swim both the 200 free and 400 IM.

Last season Maier raced the 200 fly on the final day, placing second to Akron’s Sarah Watson. The two swimmers rank 1-2 this season in the conference in the 100 free and 2-3 in the 200 fly, with Watson leading Maier in both. If they happen to collide in one of those races, it will be one of the best showdowns of the meet. If Watson goes for the 100 free, Maier will likely end up battling another Zip swimmer, Paulina Nogaj, in the 200 fly. Nogaj leads the MAC this season with a time of 1:57.95, with Maier having been 1:57.54 at last year’s championships (and 1:59.08 this season).

Star: Sarah Watson, Akron – Watson, a Canadian native, has had an illustrious MAC career, winning eight of the nine individual events she’s entered over the course of three conference championship meets. She’s won the 200 IM in three straight seasons, and also owns a pair of victories in the 100 fly, 100 free and one in the 200 fly last year.

This season, the senior is a lock to go for the four-peat in the 200 IM, as she’s the only woman sub-2:00 this season at 1:57.67, and also ranks first in the conference in the 100 free (48.76). In the 100 fly, she sits second to her teammate, Nogaj, with a time of 52.20 to Nogaj’s 51.97. As mentioned above, she could also go for the 200 fly (would be in place of 100 free), the event in which she set a new conference record en route to winning last season in 1:55.88.

Both Maier and Watson are big favorites to win two individual events, and will have a great chance at a third. The possibility of them clashing in that third event, on the final day no less, is intriguing.

Star: Daisy Platts, Bowling Green – Bowling Green senior Daisy Platts is the three-time defending champion in the 200 back and the two-time defending in the 100 back, and will be aiming for a third straight sweep in the BK events this week. Platts leads the MAC this season in the 100 back at 52.75, with Akron’s Maddy Gatrall next up at 53.09. In the 200 back, Platts (1:55.01) is followed by Akron’s Weronika Gorecka (1:55.24) and Gatrall (1:55.78).

Platts’ best times, however, give her some breathing room, having been 52.39 and 1:53.67, respectively at the 2021 MACs. Look for her to put on a show in her senior year.

Showdown: 50 Free – The 50 free figures to be a razor-thin battle with all eight of last season’s finalists returning and five women sub-23 this season (actually six, but Watson will surely opt for the 200 IM). The fastest swimmer this season is Buffalo fifth-year Jillian Lawton at 22.52, followed by her teammate and defending champion Toni Naccarella (22.61). Naccarella won in decisive fashion last year, clocking 22.37 to Lawton’s 22.91, and a win would be her third in a row. Trailing those two is Arkon’s Nogaj (22.66), Sofia Henell (22.87) and Rachel Schiffli (22.94), making for a lightning-fast event after only two women broke 23 seconds in the 2021 final.

Showdown: 1650 Free – The 1650 free has a solid chance to turn into a great battle for the win, with the conference’s top three swimmers this season all separated by less than three seconds. Eastern Michigan’s Savanna Mouat (16:46.67) leads, followed by Ball State’s Marcella Ribeiro (16:46.89) and Akron’s Gail Workman (16:49.47). Last year we saw Ribeiro emerge in a tight battle with Toledo’s Jovana Duric, who ranks fifth in 2021-22 at 16:59, but was 16:33.01 in that race last season. We also can’t count at Akron’s Brooke Lamoureux, who’s been 16:56 this season and was 16:41 to finish third last year. Mouat, a Canadian native, didn’t compete last season but was third back in 2020 at 16:35.

SELECTIONS

Swimulator Results

NOTE – this does not include diving, and Swimulator works as an approximation and projection based on 2021-2022 season bests. Not every team tapers the same way, injuries/illnesses come up, and projections are merely projections. 

  1. Akron, 833.0
  2. Buffalo, 490.5
  3. Miami (OH), 470.5
  4. Ohio, 343.5
  5. Ball State, 308.0
  6. Eastern Michigan, 285.0
  7. Toledo, 224.5
  8. Bowling Green, 219.0

SwimSwam Picks

  1. Akron
  2. Buffalo
  3. Miami
  4. Ohio
  5. Eastern Michigan
  6. Ball State
  7. Toledo
  8. Bowling Green

Akron is just too strong this year and shouldn’t have an issue reclaiming their place at the top of the conference. Eastern Michigan has some strong diving which gives them a chance to move up and leapfrog Ball State.

7
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of

7 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tommy
9 months ago

Let’s go Bulls!

Nicole Maier Superfan
9 months ago

Can’t wait to see Maier dominate the MAC in record fashion! Will surely be a great show! Redhawks on the rise….soon they will be on top for both men and women!

ArtVanDeLegh10
Reply to  Nicole Maier Superfan
9 months ago

How soon?

Nicole Maier Superfan
Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
9 months ago

The men are already there and the women are following close behind! Don’t blink…you might miss it!

SmarterThanYouLook
Reply to  Nicole Maier Superfan
9 months ago

She’s great…but the team…? There’s a big gap between her and the rest of them. Akron is the class of the MAC.

Holly
9 months ago

Go Hawks! #FullTilt

Brian
9 months ago

Let’s Go Zips!!

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 …

Read More »