NCAA Women’s Championships: Maggie Mac Neil Scorches NCAA Record in 50 Free ‘Validation’ Swim

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

NCAA Women’s Championships: Maggie Mac Neil Scorches NCAA Record in 50 Freestyle

For the crowd watching, it was an NCAA record. For Maggie Mac Neil, it was redemption and validation.

One year after injuries derailed her shot at defending her NCAA titles, Mac Neil, now swimming for LSU, won the 50 freestyle in 20.79 to break the NCAA record in the event. It was four hundredths faster than Virginia’s Gretchen Walsh was at ACCs.

“It definitely means a lot. The 50 free is still my fun event. I went into it with a clear head and I was aiming to go out faster and work on some technical aspects,” Mac Neil said. “This is so much (validation). After this morning, I tied what I went in finals last year, so I knew that was already a step in the right direction.”

Mac Neil turned first and got to the wall in  20.79 to break the NCAA record in the event. She also had a faster reaction time, by a tenth, which put Walsh ever so slightly behind off the start.

“I knew it was going to be a great race with Gretchen. She is so good at the 50 free, so I wanted to make sure I stayed with her,” Mac Neil said. “Now it is about being able to finish the meet on my terms, which I didn’t get to do last year.”

For Mac Neil, it was an extra sweet win. After battling an injury last year and not swimming as fast as she hoped, she transferred to LSU for her graduate year and made her way back to the top of the podium after winning two events for Michigan two years ago.

The Tigers qualified several swimmers for this meet, and with Mac Neil, are having one of their best showings in school history after earning All-American honors in the 200 free relay.

“It has been amazing and it hasn’t just been me. We have four individual qualifiers and the relays. We knew we had a shot at being top eight, and that was the goal,” she said. “At Michigan, they had three back-to-back Big Ten titles. They were built already. It is different, but it has been a really good experience.”

Walsh was in 20.85 and Louisville’s Gabi Albiero was third in 21.30.

Ohio State’s Teresa Ivan finished fourth in 21.46 ahead of NC State’s Katharine Berkoff (21.54).

Mac Neil was the second-fastest from prelims, but had some technical difficulties.

“My goggles snapped three heats before my 50. I grabbed someone from Tennessee and she lent me hers. So there was a little more adrenaline than there probably would have been normally,” Mac Neil said.

Complete Meet Coverage

Live Results

Ohio State’s Amy Fulmer won the NCAA consolation final in 21.74.

Event 5  Women 50 Yard Freestyle
=========================================================================
         NCAA: N 20.83  2/15/2023 Gretchen Walsh, Virginia
         Meet: M 20.84  3/17/2022 Kate Douglass, Virginia
     American: A 20.83  2/15/2023 Kate Douglass, Virginia
      US Open: O 20.83  2/15/2023 Gretchen Walsh, Virginia
         Pool: P 20.94  11/17/2022Gretchen Walsh, Virginia
    Name                 Year School            Prelims     Finals Points 
=========================================================================
                       === Championship Final ===                        
 
  1 MacNeil, Maggie        5Y LSU                 21.38      20.79N  20  
    r:+0.64  10.11        20.79 (10.68)
  2 Walsh, Gretchen        SO Virginia            21.00      20.85P  17  
    r:+0.74  10.18        20.85 (10.67)
  3 Albiero, Gabi          JR Louisville          21.46      21.30   16  
    r:+0.61  10.31        21.30 (10.99)
  4 Ivan, Teresa           SO Ohio St             21.71      21.46   15  
    r:+0.64  10.50        21.46 (10.96)
  5 Berkoff, Katharine     SR NC State            21.68      21.54   14  
    r:+0.66  10.52        21.54 (11.02)
  6 Countie, Grace         SR UNC                 21.51      21.67   13  
    r:+0.68  10.50        21.67 (11.17)
  7 Regenauer, Christiana  SR Louisville          21.68      21.68   12  
    r:+0.73  10.62        21.68 (11.06)
  8 Cuomo, Lexi            SR Virginia            21.61      21.71   11  
    r:+0.70  10.45        21.71 (11.26)
 
                        === Consolation Final ===                        
 
  9 Fulmer, Amy            SR Ohio St             21.87      21.74    9  
    r:+0.67  10.70        21.74 (11.04)
 10 Turak, Ashley          SR Indiana             21.90      21.81    7  
    r:+0.62  10.60        21.81 (11.21)
 11 Antoniou, Kalia        5Y Alabama             21.82      21.85    6  
    r:+0.72  10.60        21.85 (11.25)
 12 Dennis, Julia          FR Louisville          21.73      21.87    5  
    r:+0.64  10.50        21.87 (11.37)
 13 Paegle, Kristina       FR Indiana             21.98      21.99    4  
    r:+0.70  10.66        21.99 (11.33)
 14 Parker, Maxine         JR Virginia            21.92      22.01    2.5
    r:+0.73  10.74        22.01 (11.27)
 14 McCarty, Eboni         SO Georgia             21.86      22.01    2.5
    r:+0.67  10.66        22.01 (11.35)
 16 McSharry, Mona         JR Tennessee           21.89      22.02    1  
    r:+0.67  10.53        22.02 (11.49)
 
                 Women - Team Rankings - Through Event 5                 
 
  1. Virginia                        168.5   2. Texas                             115
  3. Louisville                         85   4. Stanford                           72
  5. Georgia                          66.5   6. NC State                           66
  7. Ohio St                            62   8. Indiana                            61
  8. Tennessee                          61  10. California                         60
 11. Alabama                            50  12. Wisconsin                          49
 13. Florida                            47  14. UNC                                35
 15. Lsu                                20  16. Southern California                14
 16. Kentucky                           14  18. Duke                               13
 19. Virginia Tech                       6  19. Michigan                            6
 21. UCLA                                4  21. Arkansas                            4
 21. Arizona St                          4  24. Auburn                              2
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