While many of the top Canadian swimmers were finishing up their collegiate seasons at the U SPORTS Championships in Vancouver over the weekend, some of their national teammates were in NCAA action as the first batch of Conference Championship meets took place.
The most noteworthy performance came from Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil, who continued her historic freshman campaign with the 2nd fastest 100 fly swim of all-time in 49.59 at the Women’s Big Ten Championships. She is now just 16 one-hundredths behind the NCAA and U.S. Open Record of 49.43 held by Kelsi Dahlia, and is the only freshman to have ever broken 50 (now having done so three times).
The former London Aquatic Club member put up a total of 92 points at the Big Tens, tied for 2nd most among all swimmers, as she also won the 50 free (21.65) and took 2nd in the 100 back (50.50). Her breakout season lines her up for a big summer.
At the 2018 Canadian Championships MacNeil qualified and then declined her spot on the Pan Pacific Championship team in favor of Junior Pan Pacs, where she went on to win four medals including a gold in the 100 fly in a best time of 58.38.
If her short course yards performances are any indication, she’ll be faster than that this upcoming long course season, and will challenge Penny Oleksiak and Rebecca Smith for an individual spot in the event at the World Championships and a spot on the medley relay.
Her sprint freestyle performances have also been fast this season, now breaking 22 seconds in the 50 four times and breaking 48 in the 100 on Sunday, and will be a valuable asset on the already stacked 400 free relay for the Canadians moving forward.
However, before the long course season gets underway MacNeil will enter her first NCAA Championships with an excellent shot at a National title. Only four women have ever been sub-50 in the 100 fly, and three of them will be racing head-to-head there. She’ll be joined by Louise Hansson of USC (best of 49.80 – still with Pac-12s to come), and Erika Brown of Tennessee (best of 49.85).
OTHER CANADIANS MAKING SOME NOISE
- Sydney Pickrem: The Texas A&M senior had a pair of runner-up finishes at the SEC Championships in the 200 breast and 200 IM, becoming the 4th fastest performer of all-time in the latter. Pickrem won bronze at the 2017 World Championships in the 400 IM and silver at the 2018 Pan Pacs in the 200 IM, and remains a serious medal challenger in both on the international stage. She’s also in the hunt for an NCAA title next month in either medley event.
- Nina Kucheran: The Florida State freshman had a breakout performance at the ACC Championships, placing 2nd in the 200 breast (2:08.78) and 5th in the 100 breast (59.61) in lifetime best times. The Sudbury native was the highest point scorer among any Seminole swimmer with 68, and is projected to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
- Mackenzie Padington: The Minnesota sophomore placed 2nd in the 500 free at Big Tens in 4:37.27, just off her PB set earlier this season of 4:37.01. This was a big improvement from the 16th place she finished in her freshman season, and puts her in position to make the ‘A’ final at NCAAs.
- Bailey Andison: The Indiana senior put up 83 points as the Hoosier women won their first B1G title since 2011, hitting personal best times in all three of her individual events. She won the 400 IM (4:02.37), took 3rd in the 200 IM (1:53.27), and was 6th in the 200 breast (2:08.84).
- Sofia Carnevale: The UGA junior put up 41 points at SECs, including a 3rd place finish in the 100 breast in a best time of 59.19. Her 13th place 2:10.20 was also a PB in the 200 breast.
- Gator Women: Emma Ball, Mabel Zavaros, and Rosie Zavaros all swam well for Florida as they placed 2nd at SECs, contributing a combined 54 individual points. Ball led with 33 points including an 8th place finish in the 100 back, while Mabel Zavaros is the most proven over long course after making two ‘A’ finals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and three at the Pan Pacs.
- Javier Acevedo: Not to be forgotten among the women, the junior led the Bulldogs with 79 points including a new best time in the 200 IM (1:43.29). After dealing with injuries early in the season he is rounding into form nicely for both the NCAA Championships in March and the Canadian Trials in April.
- James Guest: Acevedo’s senior teammate Guest finished off his SEC Championship career with the 2nd most points on the Bulldogs (68), placing 2nd in the 200 breast (1:53.11) and 4th in the 400 IM (3:43.61). Last season he swam a lifetime best of 1:53.10 in the 200 breast prelims at NCAAs, qualifying him for the ‘A’ final where he ended up finishing 8th.