Maggie Mac Neil swims to Canada’s 1st gold medal of Tokyo Olympics

Maggie Mac Neil won Canada’s first gold medal of these Olympics, capturing the women’s 100-metre butterfly in a Canadian record 55.59 seconds on Monday morning in Tokyo.

China’s Zhang Yufei (55.64) took the silver and Australia’s Emma McKeon (55.72) claimed bronze.

Mac Neil, from London, Ont., is competing in her first Olympics and already has two medals. 

A day earlier, Mac Neil was part of the Canadian women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team that won silver. 

“We’re just feeding off the momentum of each other,” Mac Neil said. “We need each other’s support.”

Mac Neil did what she always does before every race — she kicked the back of the blocks three times, splashed herself 15 times and then locked in for the race. 

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WATCH | Maggie Mac Neil wins gold in 100m butterfly:

Maggie Mac Neil of London, Ont., won Canada’s first gold medal of these Olympics, capturing the women’s 100-metre butterfly in a Canadian record 55.59 seconds on Monday morning in Tokyo. 6:28

She showed no signs of fatigue 24 hours after her 100m butterfly semifinal and the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay.

At the 2019 world championships, Mac Neil won gold in the 100m butterfly and set a Canadian record at her first world championships. 

Mac Neil, like many of the Canadian swimmers, had a curveball thrown into her journey to the Olympics. 

Normally she trains in the United States, swimming at the University of Michigan. At the 2021 NCAA swimming championships, she won and set an NCAA record in the 100-yard butterfly, becoming the first woman in history to go under 49 seconds in that event.

But she had to change up her preparation leading into the Games because of COVID-19. 

WATCH | Mac Neil receives gold medal:

14-year-old Summer McIntosh from Etobicoke, Ont., sets a new Canadian record in the women’s 400m freestyle with a time of 4:02.72 6:04

Mac Neil was forced to leave her coaches and training program in the U.S. because of all the changing restrictions and start fresh with the team at the high-performance centre in Toronto — not an ideal situation just months before the Olympics. 

After two weeks of quarantine Mac Neil got to work with the national team and coaches at the beginning of April. 

She said that while the change wasn’t optimal, she actually ended up improving on a number of different disciplines.

And on Monday in Tokyo, she showed her poise and resilience to step back on the podium for the second-straight day.

Later, 14-year-old Summer McIntosh, the youngest athlete on Team Canada, narrowly missed the podium, finishing fourth in the women’s 400m freestyle. 

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