2024 Women’s MAC Champs Fan Guide: Veteran-Heavy Akron Primed for 10th Title in 11 Years


  • Dates: Wednesday, February 28 – Saturday, March 2
  • Location: Ohio Aquatic Center, Athens, OH
  • Defending Champions: Akron (2x)
  • Live Results
  • Live Video
  • Championship Central
  • Teams: Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, Miami (OH), Ohio, Toledo


Wednesday (2/28)

  • 200 medley relay
  • 800 freestyle relay

Thursday (2/29)

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

Friday (3/1)

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

Saturday (3/2)

  • 1650 freestyle
  • 200 backstroke
  • 100 freestyle
  • 200 breaststroke
  • 200 butterfly
  • 3-meter diving
  • 400 freestyle relay

2023 RECAP


  1. Akron – 778.5
  2. Buffalo – 641
  3. Miami (OH) – 539.5
  4. Ohio – 535
  5. Ball State – 339
  6. Eastern Michigan – 302
  7. Toledo – 215
  8. Bowling Green – 121

Akron won their 2nd-straight MAC title last year, which was also their 9th title in the last 10 years. Buffalo snapped the Zips’ streak back in 2021 but, outside of that, Akron has won every MAC Championship since 2014.

Last year’s MAC Championships saw 4 championship records fall. Akron’s Weronika Gorecka posted a new meet record in the 200 free, swimming a 1:45.39. Fellow Zip Madelyn Gatrall put up a new championship record in the 100 back (52.03), while teammate Abby Daniel clocked a 51.65 to set a new 100 fly record. Miami’s Nicole Maier lowered the 200 IM record, swimming a 1:56.04.


The MAC has been, for a while now, one the top mid major (non Power Five) conferences in the NCAA, at least in terms of qualifying swimmers for the NCAA Championships. Last year, the conference saw 5 swimmers and 2 divers qualify for NCAAs. All but former Buffalo standout sprinter Toni Naccarella return to the conference this season.

Abby Daniel (Akron)

Last year as a sophomore, Akron’s Abby Daniel lit the pool up. She was a star of the 2023 MAC Championships, winning the 100 fly in a new championship record of 51.65, also claiming victory in the 200 fly (1:56.46), and taking 2nd in the 200 IM (1:56.26). Daniel was also huge for the Zips’ relays, clocking a 22.85 fly split on the 200 medley relay, and 51.75 on the 400 medley relay. She also provided a 22.43 lead-off for Akron’s 200 free relay and 50.01 lead-off on the 400 free relay. All 4 of those Zips relays would win gold.

For her performances at the MAC Championships, Daniel earned an invite to the 2023 NCAA Championships. She very narrowly missed advancing to finals of the 100 fly, where she finished 17th in 51.66, just 0.04 seconds outside what it took to make the ‘B’ final. Daniel also took 24th in prelims of the 200 IM (1:56.50) and 43rd in the 200 fly.

This season, Daniel has been on fire. At the Zippy Invite in November, she ripped a new MAC record in the 100 fly with a 51.31. At the same meet, Daniel also lowered the conference record in the 200 fly with a 1:55.87. Adding to the excellence of those swims, Daniel’s 100 fly is unquestionably fast enough to earn her an invite to NCAAs next month, even if she doesn’t go any faster this week. Daniel has also already been 1:56.78 in the 200 IM this season, so she’ll be coming into the meet as the favorite in all 3 of her events.

Maddy Gatrall (Akron)

Senior Maddy Gatrall is one member of Akron’s great backstroke duo. Last year as a junior, Gatrall won the 100 back at the MAC Championships, swimming a new meet record of 52.03. She would also take 2nd in the 200 back (1:54.75) and 50 free (22.51). Gatrall also helped 4 Akron relays to victory, splitting 24.27 leading off the 200 medley relay, 52.05 leading off the 400 medley, 1:47.01 leading off the 800 free relay, and 48.78 going 3rd on the 400 free relay, which was the fastest split for Akron.

Gatrall qualified for NCAAs last year as well. At the NCAA Championships, Gatrall was phenomenal, qualifying for the ‘B’ final of the 100 back, swimming a new MAC record of 51.59 in prelims. In finals, she would take 16th with a 52.16. Gatrall also finished 38th in prelims of the 200 back (1:54.64) and 34th in the 50 free (22.38).

This season, Gatrall leads the MAC in the 100 back, having posted a 52.36 at the Zippy Invite. Her season best in the 200 back comes in at 1:55.86, which is 2nd in the conference. She’s only been 23.08 in the 50 free this season, however. As far as career bests go, Gatrall’s 22.38 50 free and 51.59 100 back from last year’s NCAAs are her best, while she’s been as fast as 1:53.50 in the 200 back.

Weronika Goerecka (Akron)

Weronika Gorecka is the other half of Akron’s backstroke duo and has returned for her fifth year with the Zips. Gorecka won the 200 back in 1:53.33 at last year’s MAC Championships, and finished 2nd to Gatrall in the 100 back with a 52.54. She’s also a great 200 freestyler, having won the event last year in a new championship record of 1:45.39. As far as relays go, Gorecka clocked a 1:45.00 on the 3rd leg of Akron’s 800 free relay, 22.54 on the 2nd leg of the 200 free relay, anchored the 400 medley relay in 48.91, and split 49.02 on the 2nd leg of the 400 free relay.

Having qualified for the 2023 NCAA Championships, Gorecka also managed to make a final, like Gatrall. In prelims of the 200 back, Gorecka clocked a new MAC record of 1:52.43, which was enough for her to make the ‘B’ final. She would go on to swim a 1:52.63 in finals, which earned her 13th place. In the 200 free, Gorecka came in 31st with a 1:46.04, while she tied for 41st in prelims of the 100 back with a 53.08.

This season, Gorecka has only been 1:53.01 in the 200 free, although she’s leading the conference in the 200 back with a 1:54.38, and is 2nd in the 100 back (52.74).

Nicole Maier (Miami)

Miami’s Nicole Maier has been a star of the MAC for the past 3 years, breaking a bunch of conference records. As a junior last season, Maier won the 200 IM (1:56.04) and 400 IM (4:09.22). She came in 2nd in the 200 fly with a 1:56.56.

Maier qualified for NCAAs, where she would swim a different set of events, showing off her versatility. At NCAAs, she made the ‘B’ final of the 400 IM, swimming a 4:09.61 in prelims. In finals, she went on to blow that time away, posting a 4:05.84 and winning the ‘B’ final (9th overall). She also finished 24th in prelims of the 500 free with a 4:41.47 and swam the 100 free as well, where she tied for 28th in 48.42.

Maier has been dominant in the conference since her freshman year. She currently holds the MAC records in the 100 free (47.97), 200 free (1:44.50), 500 free (4:39.96), 200 IM (1:56.04), and 400 IM (4:05.84).

This season, Maier leads the conference in the 400 IM with a 4:11.28. She hasn’t been nearly as fast in the 200 IM, where she’s only clocked a 2:00.79 so far, but she set the MAC record of 47.97 in the 100 free at the Miami University Invite. Maier also leads the MAC in the 200 free with a 1:46.22 and the 500 free (4:46.46). She already has an NCAA invite secured with her 47.97 100 free, so it’s hard to tell which events Maier will be swimming this week.

Victoria Franz (Buffalo)

Victoria Franz was one of two Buffalo divers to qualify for NCAAs last season. She was a senior last year but has returned to Buffalo using her fifth year of eligibility this season. At last year’s MAC Championships, Franz won 1-meter diving and came in 2nd in 3-meter. She went on to qualify for NCAAs, where she came in 26th in prelims of 1-meter, and 46th in 3-meter.

Marialis Kwak (Buffalo)

Junior Marialis Kwak was the other Buffalo diver to qualify for NCAAs last year. At the 2023 MAC Champs, Kwak complimented Franz perfectly, winning 3-meter and taking 2nd in 1-meter. She went on to compete at NCAAs, where she came in 31st in 1-meter and 41st in 3-meter.


Payton Kelly (Ball State)

Ball State’s Payton Kelly has really developed into a force to be reckoned with in the sprint free events, especially the 50 free. As a freshman last year, Kelly made a huge impact, taking 2nd in the 50 free with a 22.51. She also came in 3rd in the 100 free with a 49.81.

This season, Kelly has been on a tear. She broke the Ball State program record at the House of Champions Invite in November, swimming a 22.32 in the 50 free, which leads the conference this season. It may be a bit of a stretch this season, but given Kelly’s improvement since arriving at Ball State, Megan Burns’ MAC Record of 22.04 in the 50 could very well be in play at some point during Kelly’s career.

While the 50 free is Kelly’s best event, she’s made strides in the 100 free as well. Coming into the meet, She holds the 4th-fastest time in the MAC this season, having gone 49.12 at the House of Champions Invite. The event where Kelly has shown the most growth this season is the 200 free. Last year, she had a season best of 1:51.71 and came in 30th in prelims at the MAC Championships, posting a 1:52.62. This year, Kelly has shed a ton of time in the event, having swum a 1:48.24 at the House of Champions. In the span of a year, she’s gone from the outside looking in in the 200 free to a likely ‘A’ finalist.

Zita Szoke (Ohio)

Ohio has seen a huge addition in freshman Zita Szoke, who looks ready to make a huge splash in her first MAC Championships. Szoke comes into the meet with the 2nd-fastest 100 free in the conference this year, having gone a 48.95 at the TYR ’85 Liberty Invite.

While the 100 free is her best event, Szoke is a very good 200 freestyler as well, holding a season best of 1:47.86. In the 50 free, Szoke has been 23.09, which is 8th in the MAC this year. She’s also a great 100 flyer, swimming her season high of 54.16 at the TYR ’85 Liberty Invite, a time which ranks 6th in the conference.

Szoke came to Ohio from Hungary, where she was a top junior swimmer. She competed for Hungary at international meets such as the World Junior Championships, World Cup, and the European Junior Championships.

Madeline Padavic (Miami)

Coming off a very successful sophomore campaign, Miami junior Madeline Padavic is set for score even higher this year. At last year’s MAC Championships, Padavic came in 3rd in the 100 back, where she swam a 53.58. She also posted a 4th-place finish in the 50 free with a 22.77, and came in 8th in the 200 back (2:00.48).

Padavic has been terrific this season. She comes into the meet as the 3rd-fastest 100 back in the conference, having gone 52.88 in Miami’s dual meet against Kenyon in late January. That time stands as a career best for Padavic. It’s just one of many career bests Padavic has clocked this season. She also put up a personal best of 50.14 in the 100 free in that dual meet with Kenyon. On top of that, Padavic swam a career best of 1:57.73 in the 200 back at the Miami Classic Invite a couple weeks ago.

Mia Naccarella (Buffalo)

Buffalo senior Mia Naccarella is another one of the top backstrokers in the conference. At last year’s meet, she came in 4th in the 100 back with a 53.85 and was 5th in the 200 back (1:57.83). Naccarella also took 8th in the 200 free, where she swam a 1:48.55.

Like many of the other swimmers in this preview, Naccarella has already been even faster this season than last. In the 100 back, she’s 4th in the MAC this season with a 53.25. She’s been great in the 200 back as well, coming in with the 3rd-fastest time in the conference (1:57.10). Her 200 free time has also come down, as she’s been 148.31 to this point in the season.

Greta Kolbeck (Miami)

After a strong showing in her first MAC Championships last year, Miami sophomore Greta Kolbeck is set to make some noise this year. As just a freshman, Kolbeck won the 500 free last year in 4:47.44, also taking 4th in the 200 free (1:47.78) and 19th in the 100 free (51.48).

Having won the 500 last year, Kolbeck comes into this meet with the #2 time in the conference this season (4:49.23). While she’s 2nd, it’s her teammate Nicole Maier, who is ahead of her. There’s no guarantee Maier will race the 500 free at this meet, so Kolbeck may still be the top seed.

Kolbeck has made improvement in the 200 free over last year. She’s been 1:46.91 this season, which is, once again, 2nd in the conference to Maier. Kolbeck has also taken her 100 free down, having posted a 50.49 at the Miami Classic Invite a few weeks ago.


200 Free

The 200 free will be an interesting race this week, partly because it’s hard to tell who will be in it. Miami’s Nicole Maier, the MAC record holder in the event (1:44.50), has clocked the top time in the conference this season with a 1:46.22. It seems more likely than not that Maier will race the 400 IM rather than the 200 free, but there’s still a chance she does the 200 at this meet. If she’s in it, Maier will be the favorite.

Though she’s only been 1:53.01 in the 200 free, Akron’s Weronika Gorecka is the next-fastest 200 freestyler in the conference. Gorecka won the event at last year’s MAC Championships, setting a new championship record of 1:45.39. It would be easy to miss her on the heat sheet this year but, make no mistake, she’s a top contender in this race.

Another Redhawk, Greta Kolbeck, has been excellent in the 200 free this season, holding the 2nd-fastest time in the MAC with a 1:46.91. That time also stands as Kolbeck’s career best in the event.

Ohio freshman Zita Szoke, a former Hungarian National Junior Team member, looks like a force to be reckoned with in the 200 as well. Szoke has already been 1:47.86 this season, which puts her just ahead of Akron’s Rebecca Reid (1:47.90).

Ball State’s Payton Kelly is another swimmer to keep a close eye on. She came in 30th in the event at last year’s meet but has made tremendous strides this season. Her season best f 1:48.24 also stands as her career best. Kelly is one to watch because she’s primarily a 50 freestyler, so look for her to use her front end speed to her advantage.

100 Back

The MAC is currently filled to the brim with great backstrokers. There’s the Akron duo of Maddy Gatrall and Weronika Gorecka, both of whom qualified for NCAAs last season. So far this year, Gatrall holds the top time in the conference with a 52.36, while Gorecka is 2nd with a 52.74. Not far behind is Miami’s Madeline Padavic, who has been 52.88 this season, which is also her lifetime best. Buffalo’s Mia Naccarella put up her career best of 53.25 earlier this season, while another Akron swimmer, Rebecca Reid, has been 53.50.

Gatrall should be viewed as the favorite, since she’s the MAC record holder in the event with the 51.59 she swam at NCAAs last year.

100 Breast

The 100 breast looks like one of the deepest events in the conference. The top 6 swimmers in the MAC this season have all been 1:01-point. Toledo’s Leah Gentry-Tuney holds the top time coming into the meet, having gone 1:01.32 at the Magnus Invite. Akron’s Sara Bozso is right behind her with a season best of 1:01.42. Ball State’s Laura Wright (1:01.66), and the Ohio trio of Julia Strine (1:01.75), Edie Sawyer (1:01.80), and Casi Dibetta (1:01.82) round out the top 6.

Ohio’s Ami Hornyak won the event last year in 59.89. Hornyak is listed on Ohio’s roster this year but doesn’t appear to have competed so far this season. With Hornyak out of the equation, the fastest returner from last year is Dibetta, who came in 4th woth a 1:01.44.


  1. Akron
  2. Miami (OH)
  3. Ohio

Having won 9 o the last 10 MAC titles, we’re rolling with Akron to make it a 3-peat this week at the Ohio Aquatic Center. The Zips have the most depth in the conference and they’re likely to win all the relays.

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avg college swim fan
1 month ago

fyi Leah Gentry-Tuney is out for MACs oops

1 month ago

Go Ohio! Enjoy home pool advantage.

1 month ago

What I want to know is did Dekker really win the pre-championships poker game? Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then! Fun meet – a lot of enthusiasm and excitement from the deck and stands. Enjoy 🙂

Reply to  Greg
1 month ago


1 month ago

Let’s go Zips!!!!

1 month ago

Let’s go Buffalo. Horns up!