Maggie Mac Neil captures women's 100m butterfly gold, sets Canadian record at short-course worlds

·4 min read
Canadian Maggie Mac Neil swims to victory in the women's 100-metre butterfly on the final day of the FINA short-course world championships in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Tuesday. (Kamran Jebreili/The Associated Press - image credit)
Canadian Maggie Mac Neil swims to victory in the women's 100-metre butterfly on the final day of the FINA short-course world championships in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Tuesday. (Kamran Jebreili/The Associated Press - image credit)

Canada's Maggie Mac Neil swam to gold in the women's 100-metre butterfly on the final day of the FINA short-course world championships in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old from London, Ont., set a Canadian record with a time of 55.04 seconds after moving up from fourth at the opening 50. It is her fourth gold medal of the competition.

"That was the most stressful race I've done all year. I knew it was going to be a close race," said Mac Neil.

The three-time Olympic medallist was coming off a world record-breaking performance in yesterday's women's 50 backstroke (25.27), and she also helped Canada finish first in both the mixed 4x50 freestyle and the women's 4x100 freestyle.

Louise Hansson of Sweden finished second in the women's 100 butterfly (55.10) to claim her third medal of the event after winning gold in the women's 100 backstroke and bronze in the women's 50 backstroke.

17-year-old American phenom Claire Curzan took bronze while setting a junior record with a time of 55.39.

WATCH l Mac Neil tops podium in women's 100 butterfly at short-course worlds:

Canada claims silver in women's 4x100 medley relay

Canada's medal haul continued later in the day when Mac Neil, Kylie Masse, Sydney Pickrem and Kayla Sanchez won silver in the women's 4x100m medley relay with a Canadian record time of 3:47.36 to close out the competition.

"I was weirdly calm," said Sanchez about her freestyle leg. "I knew to stay relaxed in the first 50 and if it came down to the last bit, I knew I would have something. I saw in the last 25 metres I would have to fight for it. I was happy to see the result and do well for my teammates."

Canadians Summer McIntosh and Katerine Savard swam in the preliminaries and will also receive a medal.

The Swedish team of Louise and Sophie Hansson, Sarah Sjöström and Michelle Coleman won gold while breaking the European record with a time of 3:46.20.

China's Peng Xuwei, Tang Qianting, Zhang Yufei and Cheng Yujie set an Asian record while rounding out the podium with bronze (3:47.41).

WATCH l Canada wraps up short-course worlds with silver in women's 4x100 medley:

Canada's Liendo wins bronze in men's 100 freestyle

Earlier in the day, fellow Canadian Olympian Joshua Liendo of Markham, Ont., won bronze in the men's 100 freestyle event after finishing strong with a time of 45.82 — just 0.26 seconds shy of Brent Hayden's Canadian record from 2009 (45.56).

"I'm still trying to process everything," said Liendo. "The big thing for me coming into this meet was just learning but I'm already up there with the big boys. It's been an amazing experience and I'm excited for the future."

Alessandro Miressi captured gold while improving on his Italian record with a time of 45.57, while American Ryan Held finished behind him for silver (45.63) for his sixth medal of the competition.

WATCH l Liendo wins world championship bronze in men's 100 freestyle:

Tessa Cieplucha of Georgetown, Ont., finished sixth in the women's 200 breaststroke with a personal best time of 2:19.99.

Canada finishes with seven gold, six silver and two bronze medals — the most ever by Canada at the short-course world championships.

John Atkinson, director of high performance and national coach for Swimming Canada, says the outstanding Canadian performances in Abu Dhabi will set the tone for the upcoming year.

"From Day 1 to Day 6 we were competitive through the whole event. That's down to the work ethic and the professionalism of our athletes, coaches, and of our support staff, working every minute in the prelims and finals to get the best support for the athletes," said Atkinson.

"The athletes have had a fantastic set of performances here and it sets everybody up for what comes in 2022 with the major Games and championships we have coming up."

He said Swimming Canada will continue monitoring the ongoing developments in response to the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

"We encourage all clubs, swimmers, coaches, officials and volunteers to follow all relevant guidelines, and be proactive in planning ahead as there may be stricter protocols around training, and/or some competitions could be affected." said Atkinson.

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