Dolfin Swim of the Week: MacNeil Earns Major Upset With 58-to-57-to-55 Season

Disclaimer: Dolfin 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  Dolfin 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.

Heading into the 2019 World Championships, you could break down most of the events by their predictability: some events (the men’s 100 breast, the women’s 1500 free) feel almost locked in for gold based on historic, world-dominant performers. Others (the men’s 200 free, the women’s 200 fly) feel completely up in the air.

As of yesterday, many of us would probably have put the women’s 100 fly in the former category.

Sarah Sjostromthe world record-holder, had won the the last three World Champs gold medals in the event (and four of the last five), plus 2016 Olympic gold. She held the 11 fastest swims of all-time, and 14 of the top 20.

But Canada’s Maggie MacNeil pulled off arguably the upset of the year, going 55.83 to beat Sjostrom for 100 fly gold.

With all due respect to Australia’s Ariarne Titmus (who had a massive upset of her own in the 400 free), MacNeil’s swim was more shocking because it came completely out of nowhere.

Heading into the meet, MacNeil’s best time ever was a 57.04 from Canadian Trials in April. Before this year, her lifetime-best was a 58.38 from Junior Pan Pacs last summer. MacNeil in on an absurd trajectory. Before yesterday, she didn’t even have her own Wikipedia page. The 19-year-old is now the second-fastest flyer in history; two days ago, she wasn’t even in the top 20. While many were projecting a breakout summer for Canada internationally, almost no one expected their first gold to come from MacNeil.

Now, the excitement only continues to grow. MacNeil already put up a valiant 53.1 split on Canada’s bronze-medal-winning 4×100 free relay. She’ll be the flyer on their medal-contending women’s 4×100 medley relay, and could even swim a leg of the mixed medley, which now looks like a legit contender too. Just 19, MacNeil could be a legitimate world record challenger by the Tokyo Olympics – she’s currently just four tenths away, and the closest anyone in history has been to Sjostrom’s record.

And just six months ago, MacNeil wasn’t even a serious candidate for the 100 fly final. How quickly things can change in the sport of swimming.

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Looked up her wikipedia, apparently her strokes are freestyle. I mean sure but… c’mon


Then edit it.

William Charles Alexander

I mean most butterfly specialists are excellent freestylers… see sjostrom, oleksiak, caeleb dressel etc.


Biondi / Gross

Philip Johnson

Is it true Sarah said she isn’t as strong as she use to be in the 100s?

William Charles Alexander

Something to that effect: she said she’s bulked up about 10 kilos, so she’s gained power in the 50m sprints at the expense of her 100m+ distances.


I wonder what the rationale behind that is given only the 50 free is an Olympic event.

Ol' Longhorn

She’s made a lot of money in the various pro series in SCM and sprints.

Ol' Longhorn

She’s also playing around with USRPT, especially for her fly sets, she’s said (25’s at race pace). Not convinced it translates that well to the 100 fly and the lurking Grim Reaper at 40 meters.

Steve Nolan

Didn’t even win NCAAs, lol.

Philip Johnson

I think she’ll take this over an NCAA title.


IMO she’s a far better long course swimmer.

Steve Nolan

I mean I wasn’t knocking her, just adding to the insane trajectory she’s been on.


Almost a better comment on how insane Hansson’s NCAAs were. McNeil has a great season with insane times.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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