Honda Sport Award Finalists Include Sarah Bacon, Maggie MacNeil, Paige Madden, Sophie Hansson

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Minnesota redshirt senior and four-time NCAA Champion Sarah Bacon has been named a finalist for the Honda Sport Award for swimming and diving as announced by the Collegiate Women Sports Award (CWSA) Friday morning.

The group of 2021 finalists she’s among is an impressive bunch, as the four finalists consist of Bacon, Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil, NC State’s Sophie Hansson and Virginia’s Paige Madden.

The Honda Sport Award has been presented annually by the CWSA for the past 45 years to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports and signifies “the best of the best in collegiate athletics”. The winner of the sport award becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious 2021 Honda Cup, which will be presented on a telecast on CBS Sports Network on Monday, June 28 at 8 p.m. CT.

Bacon earned her first career finalist nod for the award due largely to her incredible performance at this year’s 2021 NCAA Championships, where the Indianapolis, Ind. native set history on multiple levels. The first of which came when she claimed gold on the one-meter springboard, effectively winning her third straight title in the event and becoming only the third Minnesota student-athlete in history to accomplish a three-peat at the national level.

Securing her second title of the championships a day later on the three-meter springboard, Bacon became only the second member in the history of the Minnesota Swimming & Diving program to win multiple events in one year’s NCAA Championships. Most impressively, Bacon’s pair of titles brings her NCAA Championship title count up to four over her tremendous career, making her the winningest woman in any sport in Minnesota history.

Apart from the finalist nod for this top award, Bacon had also been previously named both the Collegiate Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) and Big Ten Conference Diver of the Year for her performance on the national stage.

MacNeil is a finalist for the Honda Sport Award. At the NCAA Championships in March, MacNeil won two individual titles (100-yard butterfly, 100-yard freestyle), finished as a runner-up in a third event (50-yard freestyle), and swam on two All-America relay teams, a performance that entrenched her as the 2020-21 CSCAA Women’s Swimmer of the Year. She set an NCAA record in the 100-yard butterfly (48.89), became the second woman in history to break 49 seconds in both the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard backstroke (49.76), and became the third-fastest performer in history in the 100-yard freestyle (46.02).

She was Big Ten Conference Swimmer of the Year and earned Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships after winning three individual events and swimming a leg on the winning 400-yard freestyle relay. She received All-Big Ten (first team) and Academic All-Big Ten honors.

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MacNeil, who represents Canada on the international stage, has already provisionally qualified for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo. She is the reigning world champion in the 100-meter butterfly, winning gold at the 2019 FINA World Championships in South Korea.

Madden is a two-time ACC Swimmer of the Year and of the Meet. She led Virginia to its first-ever NCAA Championship title in 2021 after capturing three individual races and one relay title, the most of any swimmer at the meet. She holds 14 CSCAA All-America honors and is a 13-time ACC Champion. Recently, she was named the 2021 Weaver-James-Corrigan ACC Postgraduate Scholarship Award recipient.

The Honda Award swimming & diving finalists were selected by a panel of coaches and experts from the Collegiate Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA). The Honda Sport award winner for swimming & diving will be announced next week after voting by administrators from over 1,000 NCAA member schools has commenced.