Maggie MacNeil Says Paris Will Be Her Last Olympics, Eyeing Sjostrom’s 100 Fly World Record

Tokyo Olympic champion Maggie MacNeil sees the end of her competitive career coming within the next four years.

MacNeil told CBC Sports that the 2024 Olympics in Paris will be her last run at the Games with plans of attending law school within the next two years.

“I haven’t decided on a firm end date, but I know I’m not going another quad,” MacNeil told CBC. “I’ve never wanted to [compete] to 2028. I want to go to law school in the near future.

“I’ve accomplished more than I ever wanted in swimming and by doing that, I would be happy if I retired now.”

MacNeil, who turned 24 on Monday, burst onto the senior international stage in 2019, upsetting Sarah Sjostrom for gold in the women’s 100 butterfly at the World Championships in Gwangju.

MacNeil followed up by winning Olympic gold in the 100 fly two years later in Tokyo, nearing Sjostrom’s world record (55.48) in a time of 55.59 that remains the third-fastest clocking in history.

After adding Olympic medals with a silver in the women’s 400 free relay and a bronze in the 400 medley relay in Tokyo, MacNeil has gone on to pile up medals on the major international stage, including winning a combined seven golds at the Short Course World Championships between 2021 and 2022.

At the 2021 SC Worlds in Abu Dhabi, MacNeil set a world record in the women’s 50 back (25.27) and also won gold in the 100 fly, and at the 2022 championships in Melbourne, she defended both titles and set new world records in both, clocking 25.25 in the 50 back and 54.05 in the 100 fly, while also winning the 50 fly world title.

She also won Commonwealth Games gold in the 100 fly in 2022, owns eight medals from the LC World Championships, and in 2023, won a record five gold medals and seven total at the Pan Am Games.

The London Aquatic Club product, who also had an incredible NCAA career at the University of Michigan and LSU, admitted to having mixed feelings about retirement.

“I think most athletes do. It’s something you’ve spent your life doing, it’s part of your identity,” she said. “I’m lucky my parents always had me focused on school first and swimming second. I’ve always had education to fall back on.”

MacNeil had an illustrious four-year career at Michigan before transferring to LSU for her fifth season of eligibility, which concluded last year. She continues to train in Baton Rouge under LSU coach Rick Bishop, who also spoke to CBC on her future retirement.

“She’s won the world championships, broken two world records, held an NCAA record at one time, Olympic gold, world championship gold, Pan Ams,” he said. “You name it, she’s won it.”

MacNeil’s departure will leave a hole on the Canadian National Team in the future, Bishop added.

“You’re talking about someone who you could count on year in and year out,” he said. “She’s been invaluable on relays, from a butterfly and freestyle perspective.”

MacNeil is in the midst of completing her masters of science in sports management at LSU, with exams set to wrap up just before the 2024 Canadian Olympic Trials in May (May 13-19).

“My last exam is May 7 or 8 so it’s cutting it a little close but that’s my life the last 16 years as a student-athlete,” said MacNeil.

“I’ll miss graduation due to Trials and I didn’t go to my undergrad graduation either, but there’s nothing I would rather miss it for than to make the Olympic team, hopefully.

“I always find school keeps my mind off swimming. I think I would go crazy if I just focused on swimming. I always like to have something to think about. I’m enjoying the ride now knowing it’s going to come to an end soon.”

MacNeil added that she plans on racing at the Canadian Swimming Open in mid-April, but that’ll likely be her only meet prior to Trials.

“It’s good to get some good training, and I think that will make me more confident than racing.”

She also spoke highly of her experience at LSU, where she aligned with Bishop who had previously coached her at Michigan.

“Last year was a great change in atmosphere and environment for me,” she said. “I’ve rarely had a bad day since I moved to LSU. I’m doing great now.

“I can have more input with my coach about how I’m feeling and what workouts I do.”

She concluded her interview with CBC by noting that no woman has ever repeated as Olympic champion in the 100 fly, and that Sjostrom’s world record is on her mind.

“Winning two [Olympic] gold in a row has never been done in the [women’s] 100 fly so it’s definitely something I’m thinking about. And the world record is right there as well.

“Those are the two things my coach and I have been talking about.”

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Beginner Swimmer at 25
1 month ago

where do we think shes going to law school, my guess is harvard

I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
Reply to  Beginner Swimmer at 25
1 month ago

Could go back to Michigan. One of the top in the country and close to home, and familiar territory for her.

Last edited 1 month ago by I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
xman
Reply to  I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
1 month ago

Wouldn’t she go to law school in Canada? Unless she’s committed to staying in the States?

CanuckSwimmer
Reply to  Beginner Swimmer at 25
1 month ago

U of T 🙂

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Beginner Swimmer at 25
1 month ago

if you consider it a transfer, clearly the obvious answer is here

I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
1 month ago

People are definitely sleeping on Huske because of one bad meet she had. It happens to the best swimmers. Huske has a PB that is practically the exact same as Zhang and MacNeil. If her US Open performance is anything to go by, she’s going to be right in the thick of it, probably a co-favorite. Who’s the other co-favorite? Are there even 2 more? Who knows.

phelpsfan
Reply to  I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
1 month ago

Nobody is sleeping on Huske she’s one of the favourites

It’ll probably be between her, MacNeil, Kohler, Yufei, and McKeon (if back in form) for the Olympic medals.

kevin
Reply to  phelpsfan
1 month ago

Mckeon was impressive at the Vic meet she is back to form

Tencor
Reply to  I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
1 month ago

Huske had a stellar 2022 but is overall less consistent than Zhang and MacNeil has had a history of performing at big meets.

She’s still in the gold medal conversation though and nobody would be surprised if she won.

Robbos
Reply to  Tencor
1 month ago

I’m tipping Huske to come 4th again!!!!

Troyy
Reply to  Robbos
1 month ago

She gets to keep the piano as a consolation prize.

RMS
1 month ago

I love Maggie, but hoping Huske gets her individual gold medal and breaks the WR.

Robbos
Reply to  RMS
1 month ago

I love Maggie, but hoping Mckeon gets another individual gold medal & breaks the WR.

Tencor
Reply to  Robbos
1 month ago

I love Maggie, but hoping Sjostrom returns to the 100 Fly & breaks the WR

phelpsfan
Reply to  Tencor
1 month ago

I love Maggie, but I’m hoping she wins Olympic gold at Paris and breaks Sjostrom’s WR

Robbos
Reply to  Tencor
1 month ago

I love Maggie, but hoping Zhang marries Pan & returns to the 100 Fly & breaks the WR

Carlo
Reply to  Robbos
1 month ago

Zhang,s older than pan. Sorry to break your heart.

Troyy
Reply to  Carlo
1 month ago

She might be a cougar.

Admin
Reply to  Carlo
1 month ago

My wife is older than me. What’s your point?

Fast and Furious
Reply to  Tencor
1 month ago

This…. Just… this….

RealSlimThomas
Reply to  RMS
1 month ago

I love Maggie, but I hope this doesn’t affect Lebron’s legacy.

Hooked on Chlorine
Reply to  RMS
1 month ago

I love Maggie, but no I don’t. She’s not an Aussie.

Tencor
1 month ago

Who do we think is most capable of breaking the this WR at the Olympics?

I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
Reply to  Tencor
1 month ago

Huske, maybe MacNeil again, Zhang Yufei, Kohler (only if she continues her progression curve)

snailSpace
Reply to  Tencor
1 month ago

Zhang or McNeil most likely, Huske could do it, but I don’t think she will, McKeon with a very slim chance (her 56.4 last week was very promising), and if her progress continues, Köhler (I’m rooting for her the most).

Leoyu
Reply to  Tencor
1 month ago

I’d say Yufei or Maggie. Pretty much every WR in any stroke has a far above average front half and back half, and one component of the race is often exceptionally good. Sjostrom’s backhalf was exceptional. Out of the top 3 Yufei has the best 50 and 200 fly and most often opens under WR pace. If she could be maybe a quarter to a half second under WR pace at the 50 and is in the right form, she could hang on for the WR. Macneil’s turn at the 50 is exceptional and she could breakout under WR pace and would have to hang on. The backhalf and esp the last 25 seems to be a weakness for Huske… Read more »

Meow
Reply to  Leoyu
1 month ago

“Every world record is faster in the first half and second half” is not exactly a revelation.

Leoyu
Reply to  Meow
1 month ago

I don’t think you get it. That’s not what I said. The point of my comment is that the world record for most strokes have an above average front half and back half, that is, no part of the race can be weak. On top of that one part is often exceptional which gives it that edge to be the fastest all time. The only exception is in some cases for the 200 breast, which I also think is the most specialized race out of any of the races. Some of the recent 2breast WR holders could be said to have an average or even slightly below average front half, esp Chupkov, that they made up with massive back halves.… Read more »

jeff
Reply to  Tencor
1 month ago

people are going to be mad if i say Gretchen but I’m gonna say Gretchen

Sub13
Reply to  jeff
1 month ago

I’m not mad but it’s an odd choice. There are 9 active swimmers with faster PBs.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Sub13
1 month ago

Ya but by definition they’ll all have to PR again to break it.

So then it’s just whatever you think is more likely, someone else hits a smaller one or she goes buckwild.

Sub13
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Yeah fair enough. I am fairly confident in saying I think it’s more likely that one of MacNeil, Zhang, Huske or McKeon will drop 0.1-0.2 than Walsh will drop 0.9. But you never know!

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Sub13
1 month ago

lol well ya, if you get to take “the field” over one person, they’ll be more likely to do it.

phelpsfan
Reply to  jeff
1 month ago

Let’s be realistic here 😭😭

snailSpace
Reply to  jeff
1 month ago

I disagree, but brave. Upvoted.

Tencor
Reply to  jeff
1 month ago

1 turn in LCM vs 3 in SCY is lethal for Walsh

Troyy
Reply to  jeff
1 month ago

I could see her going 55 (high) but not the world record. Think she’ll do a sizeable PB in the 100 free too (like say 0.5 or so).

Sub13
Reply to  Tencor
1 month ago

There are quite a few who are theoretically capable but this event was randomly really slow last year so who knows what’ll happen.

Tanner-Garapick-Oleksiak-McIntosh
1 month ago

Maggie will be missed!

Her departure will certainly leave a large hole in the Canadian Swim Team both individually and collectively when you factor in her importance in the relays.

I was thrilled when she won gold in Tokyo and I am hopeful that she can have a successful finish to her Olympic career in Paris.

Wishing her all the best!

CanuckSwimFan

Well i would expect for a number of the high profile Canadian female swimmers Paris will be their last Olympics. Penny O ( she might not make Paris) Taylor Ruck, Masse, pickrem to mention a few. It will be a rebuilding period with Summer the obvious leader.

"we've got a boil-over!"
Reply to  CanuckSwimFan
1 month ago

Rebecca Smith, Kelsey Wong, Tessa c, and more of the incredible 2000 birth year and late 90s.
Would be amazing to see a few carry on as professional swimmers into LA, but it does seem that this will be the last hurrah for a large group of exceptional women that produced results putting Canada firmly as a top3-4 female swimming nation.

JohnCena
1 month ago

The WR is going down this year.

I think she’ll be on the podium but gold is up for grabs.

ScovaNotiaSwimmer
1 month ago

Interested to see that she’s competing at this new Canadian Open meet in April. I’m curious how many of the Canadian swimmers training internationally will come home for that – whether they’re getting pressure from SNC to participate.

Bo Swims l
Reply to  ScovaNotiaSwimmer
1 month ago

Its in Toronto so I think quite a few will, especially those who are training in the eastern US. When the meet moves to Edmonton for the entire quad 🤷‍♂️

BOBFROMTHEISLAND
1 month ago

One of the best butterfliers to ever grace the pool and one of my favorite racers, she always brought the heat.

I wish swimming generated more revenue cause talents like this deciding to retire in their mid-20s would probably reconsider if the cheques were bigger. The sport will miss her but she’ll crush her next act as an attorney.

Last edited 1 month ago by BOBFROMTHEISLAND
Greeny
Reply to  BOBFROMTHEISLAND
1 month ago

Surely an Olympic gold medalist will be getting endorsement deals

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 …

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