Maggie MacNeil splits 45.26 to elevate LSU to second SEC relay win


At last year’s NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, not a single swimmer exceeded 45 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle. Gretchen Walsh closed with a 46.01 to anchor Virginia’s NCAA-record 400 freestyle relay.

On Saturdays, LSU 5th grade Maggie McNeil exploded past that mark, splitting 45.26 in the Tigers’ relay return leg. It gave LSU a second relay title this week after not winning an SEC relay title since 1986.

This run is the fastest 100-yard free time in history, surpassing the 45.45 that Simon-Manuel split at the 2015 NCAA Championships. No one has been particularly close to Manuel’s time since. The last time someone split 45 on a flying start at the NCAA was Taylor Rucks’ 45.65 anchor on Stanford’s 400 freestyle relay in 3rd place at the 2019 NCAA Championships.

Simone shared 45.47 anchoring a 400 freestyle relay in 2018; no one did it legally in 2017 or 2016.

Fastest 100-yard freestyle splits on flying starts:

  1. 45.26 – Maggie McNeilLSU, 2023 SEC Championships
  2. 45.45 – Simon-ManuelStanford, 2015 NCAA Championships
  3. 45.47- Simon-ManuelStanford, 2018 NCAA Championships
  4. 45.65 – Taylor Ruck, Stanford, 2019 NCAA Championships
  5. 45.74 – Mallory Comerford, Louisville, 2018 NCAA Championships
  6. 45.77 – Abbey Weitzeil, Calif., 2020 Pac-12 Championships

On Saturday, MacNeil split his top 50 in 21.35 on the feet, coming back in 23.91.

MacNeil won the individual 100 freestyle clocking 46.27 earlier in Saturday’s session.

This is MacNeil’s first season with LSU, but fourth under LSU head coach Rick Bishop – who served as his lead coach at the University of Michigan for three seasons.

She has three Big Ten titles in the 100 freestyle and was also the 2021 NCAA champion in the event. She has never swum a 45 before, on a flat start or a relay: her personal best is the 46.02 which won this national title in 2021.

Maggie McNeilHistory of the best relay division of the championship:

  • 2022 – 46.14 (anchor at Big Tens)
  • 2021 – 46.94 (NCAA first)
  • 2020 – 46.94 (Leadoff to Big Tens, NCAA waived)

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