In an interview with the CBC today, the Olympic champion maggie mcneil announced that she will not compete in individual events at this summer’s FINA World Championships in Budapest. She will continue to compete in the Canadian relay at the World Championships, but she has made the decision to stay out of any individual.
MacNeil cites prioritizing his mental health as the main driver of the decision. According to the 22-year-old, she has been experiencing bouts of anxiety due to perceived pressure to succeed, which has made it difficult to compete.
“I’ve run into some post-Olympic wrestling and it’s been really challenging. That was a big challenge for me. I realize that everyone goes through hardships and it’s okay to have those struggles,” MacNeil tells CBC. “I always thought I was invincible. He was completely normal and doing well in high school and most of college. But I think this year was a little more difficult for me.”
It’s easy to understand how feelings of pressure and performance anxiety might have increased in MacNeil after his Olympic gold. She entered her freshman year at the University of Michigan a great recruit, to be sure, but few foresaw the magnitude of her immediate impact on the NCAA. As a freshman, MacNeil not only established herself as one of the top swimmers in the NCAA, but she was already posting historically fast times, particularly in the 100 butterfly.
Following his freshman season at Michigan, MacNeil went to the 2019 World Championships, where he was still a relatively unknown quantity in the context of senior international competition. She would fabricate an incredible comeback in the women’s 100 fly finals to beat world record holder Sarah Sjostrom for the World Championship Gold.
During the 2020-2021 NCAA season, MacNeil became the first woman to break 49 seconds in the SCY 100 fly. She then went to the Olympics, where she would face the pressure of being the reigning World Champion in an absolutely stacked field in the women’s 100 fly final. She managed to do it again, beating Zhang Yufei and Emma McKeon, who were on fire in Tokyo, for Olympic gold.
As MacNeil told CBC, it’s normal for swimmers to experience post-Olympic difficulties, but even, MacNeil would break it at the SC World Championships in December 2021. He won 4 gold medals and one silver, even totally unexpectedly breaking the World Record. in the SCM 50 back.
Taking all of that into account, one can see where MacNeil would begin to put considerable pressure on herself to succeed at the highest levels. In the last 3 or 4 years, she went from being an underdog to one of the fastest butterflies in history, who knows she carries the weight of Olympic gold.
According to the CBC report, MacNeil met with Swimming Canada’s director of high performance in February and discussed concerns he was facing about performance expectations. MacNeil and Atkinson agreed that it would be better for MacNeil to forego any individual races at the World Championships this summer and instead focus solely on the relays.
“It’s hard to stay on top and that pressure really got to me. I need a cool summer. I don’t want to be out of international competition. I want to train and compete well for Canada, but I guess I needed a bit of a break.”
MacNeil had a bit of a rough year in the NCAA this season. Adding to any performance anxiety, MacNeil shared with CBC that he slipped and fell on the pool deck at the NCAA, resulting in a minor fracture in his elbow. The impact site was bruised after the fall, so MacNeil assumed it was a bruise on the bone, but recently he went to get it checked out and it turned out to be a small fracture.
Despite the fracture, MacNeil won the women’s 100 flyweight tonight at Canadian Trials, swimming 57.13. It’s unclear if this has anything to do with MacNeil’s mental health, but she recently announced that she will be transferring from Michigan to Cal to use her fifth year of NCAA eligibility.