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Margaret Mac Neil opens NCAAs with Big Ten record in second-place finish

News –

GREENSBORO, North Carolina – World Champion Maggie Mac Neil of London, Ont., took second place in the 50-yard freestyle with a Big Ten record on Thursday at the NCAA Women’s Swimming Championships.

Kate Douglass of Virginia won in 21.13 seconds followed by Mac Neil, racing for the University of Michigan, in 21.17. Sarah Thompson of Missouri was third in 21.42.

‘’It was a good time but I wasn’t totally happy with it,’’ said Mac Neil, a third year psychology student. ‘’There were some technical aspects that I should have done better. It’s an event that I’ve worked hard to improve for these championships.’’

Both Douglass and Mac Neil posted the same reaction time off the gun at 0.65 seconds with the American leading by 0.04 seconds at the halfway mark. Mac Neil improved her time by 0.41 from the morning preliminaries where she ranked third overall.

Before the 50 free final, Douglass had uncorked a 21.09 as Virginia’s lead-off in the 4×50-yard freestyle relay. That was the third fastest ever in NCAA history. Mac Neil’s time in the 50 final was the fifth fastest.

Back in 2019 at the FINA World Championships, Mac Neil burst on the international stage with a golden performance in the women’s 100-metre butterfly setting a Canadian and Americas record. She was Swimming Canada’s Breakout Swimmer of the Year that season.

Mac Neil also had two other relay swims with Michigan on Thursday evening, one before her individual final and one after. In the nightcap she posted the fastest lead-off backstroke time at 49.76 to help Michigan to fourth in the 4×100-yard medley relay, making her the second woman in history to break 50 seconds in both the 100-yard butterfly and backstroke.

‘’My goal was to go under 50 seconds so I was happy to achieve that,’’ Mac Neil said. ‘’Our team really wanted to get into the top-three though.’’

Competition continues through to Saturday. Mac Neil is slated to race in the 100-yard butterfly Friday and is seeded first.