Disclaimer: Blueseventy Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The blueSeventy Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.
It’s a common theme in NCAA recruiting that projected conversions from long course times rarely give an accurate picture of an athlete’s short course yards impact. But most of the time, those critiques of time conversions are attempting to lower expectations on athletes, who don’t often immediately translate their long course speed to the short course pool.
For Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil, we could make the opposite argument. Time conversions just didn’t do her speed justice.
When she verbally committed to Michigan last fall, the 17-year-old MacNeil was 59.54 in the long course 100-meter fly – a time we roughly converted to 52.37 in short course yards. Over the summer of 2018, MacNeil would drop to 58.38 at Junior Pan Pacs, converting to about 51.33 in yards with our simple converter and 51.46 in our Swimulator converter.
MacNeil essentially hit the first conversion in her first meet, out, going 52.69 in a Sept. 28 dual with Miami. She rattled the next two conversions in an Oct. 19-20 dual with Northwestern, hitting a 51.49, then going 51.57 in a triangular a couple weeks later.
But last weekend, she shattered all projections, smashing to a 50.09 at the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. That’s the top time in the nation this year, the top freshman time of all-time and the 6th-best performance in history in the event. MacNeil now appears on track to become just the fourth swimmer to break 50 seconds in the event, joining Kelsi Dahlia, Louise Hansson and Erika Brown.
MacNeil, Hansson and Brown should compete for the NCAA title this year, a conversation in which MacNeil went from an outsider dark-horse pick to perhaps the frontrunner. Her swim last weekend proves that while we often overestimate long-course-to-short-course conversions, we can sometimes underestimate them, too.
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