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The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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28 THE WOLVERINE MAY 2020 BY JOHN BORTON A ll-American swimmer Mag- gie MacNeil remembers the precise moment her season ended. It's not a conclusion she'll soon forget, either. The sophomore stood rejoicing with her teammates in "super ex- cited" fashion, over the arrival of their gear for the impending NCAA Championships. The top-ranked 100- yard butterfly swimmer in the coun- try, she eyed becoming a national champion in only her second season in college. The excitement quickly turned to angst, then massive disappoint- ment. Word spread that the Atlan- tic Coast Conference had pulled out of the championships due to CO- VID-19 concerns. Now Michigan's head coach, Mike Bottom, could be seen pacing with his cell phone in- side Canham Natatorium, conferring with the Big Ten. "We knew something was happen- ing, and it wasn't good," MacNeil said. "About five minutes later, they called all of us into the bleachers, and they got the guys out of the pool. We were like, 'Crap.' Then Mike broke the news. Everyone was really upset about it. "Mike himself got kind of emo- tional. I think it brought up a lot of feelings for him. He was on the Olympic team in '80 that boycotted the Moscow Olympics. He could re- late, and I think that helped a lot of us to get through it." The emptiness of the ending couldn't wipe away MacNeil's dominance throughout. The Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships still earned no fewer than seven All- America citations from the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Asso- ciation of American (CSCAA), based on specific qualifications criteria. MacNeil earned something else as well — The Wolverine magazine's se- lection as the Michigan Female Ath- lete of the Year. The sprinter out of London, On- tario, was not only ranked No. 1 na- tionally in the 100-yard butterfly, she was considered No. 4 in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle. Those marked three of her All-Amer- ica notices, along with the 200-yard freestyle relay, the 400-yard freestyle relay, and the 200- and 400-yard med- ley relays. MacNeil piled those honors on top of seven All-America efforts in her freshman year. She insists she swam much better this season, with a greater grasp of what her times rep- resented. "I never swam yards before my freshman year," she offered. "Go- ing into sophomore year, I put more pressure on myself, because I knew what the times meant. I put pressure on myself to go faster this year." That she did, including swimming her way to the top individual honor at the Big Ten Championships. With bigger fish to fry at the NCAA Cham- pionships — they thought — the Wolverines did not taper, or reduce exercising, prior to the conference meet. Super Sophomore Maggie MacNeil Proved Her Prowess Before The NCAA Championships Were Canceled Before even starting her sophomore year, MacNeil won the world championship in the 100- meter butterfly last July. Then she was named the Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships and earned seven All-America honors this season. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR MAGGIE MACNEIL

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