Ruck leads 1-2 Canadian finish in 200 free at NCAAs
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A Canadian was golden once again as Taylor Ruck defended her 200-yard freestyle title at the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships in Knoxville, Tenn., Friday.
The four-time Olympic medallist, swimming her final meet for Stanford, set the pace early, then held on to win in a time of 1:42.36. Her closest competition was Riverview, N.B., product Brooklyn Douthwright, who nearly caught Ruck with a blistering back half, finishing second for Tennessee in 1:42.41.
“That last 50 was getting pretty close. I just tried to not breathe, put my head down and did my best to race Brooklyn. It feels pretty good,” the Kelowna, B.C., native said after her win. “I tend to go out pretty fast. I guess just trying to keep my speed towards the third and fourth 50 is something I’ve been focusing on this season.”
Meanwhile, Maggie Mac Neil earned a second individual medal Friday for Louisiana State. The Olympic champion from London Aquatic Club finished second in the 100-yard butterfly. Mac Neil accomplished her goal of a personal best, swimming under the previous NCAA record with a blistering 48.51. That was just 0.05 behind winner Kate Douglass of Virginia.
“The scoreboard is hard to read even with my glasses on. I wasn’t sure what I placed, there was a camera in my face, I didn’t actually know what I went until I got on the podium and saw that was actually a pretty decent time,” said the famous scoreboard-squinter. “Going the second-fastest time in history was pretty good.”
Mac Neil, who took 50 freestyle gold Thursday, enters Saturday’s 100 free as the No. 1 seed. Ruck, who has helped Stanford to two second-place finishes in relays, also has the 100 free on the meet’s final day, entering with the eighth-fastest time. Both will also likely be part of their schools’ 400 free relays as they complete their NCAA careers.
“My last yards swims ever. It’s kind of crazy to think about,” Mac Neil said. “I think the emotions will hit. I’m just going to enjoy what I have left.”
Mac Neil was impressed with her fellow Canadians’ performances in the 200.
“That was so amazing to watch Tay back up her swimming from last year. Her strategy always kind of gives me a scare because she tends to go out fast and try to hang on at the end. It was a great race and Canadians going 1-2 is amazing. Getting an NCAA title is one thing, but to do it back-to-back is really incredible,” Mac Neil said.
Ruck was also part of Stanford’s fourth-place medley relay, turning in the fastest freestyle split at 46.50, while Douthwright anchored Tennessee to fifth place.
In other Canadian action Friday, two-time Commonwealth Games team member Mabel Zavaros of Burlington, Ont., turned in an impressive 4:04.08 in the 400 individual medley to finish fourth for Florida.
“I am really happy with my 400 IM tonight. I think my swims have definitely been a step forward and I just want to continue to build on that while gaining more experience,” said the junior, who has the 200 backstroke Saturday. “This meet is super competitive and brings out a great and very challenging racing environment.”
Full results: https://swimmeetresults.tech/NCAA-Division-I-Women-2023/