Maggie Mac Neil helped rewrite LSU Swimming’s record books. She wants to make history again at the Summer Olympics

Every athlete remembers their first Olympic gold. But what about their second?

Swimmer Maggie Mac Neil already has one of the Olympic Games’ top prizes under her belt. She won gold in the 100-meter butterfly at the Tokyo Games in 2021, along with a silver and bronze in relay events.

If the Canadian and former LSU swimmer wins again at next month’s Paris Games, she’ll become the first-ever female swimmer to defend her title in the all-out sprint of what’s widely accepted as the sport’s most grueling stroke.

A challenge? Definitely. But making history is kind of what Mac Neil is known for.

The 24-year-old started her collegiate swimming career at University of Michigan. There, she took home multiple NCAA titles. She became the first woman swimmer since 1964 to win an individual Olympic gold while enrolled at the university.

After graduating in 2022, she followed longtime UM coach Rick Bishop to his new post as LSU Swimming’s head coach for her fifth year of eligibility.

At LSU, she helped rewrite the women’s record books.

Her 2023 NCAA title in the 50-yard freestyle was the first in LSU women’s swimming history, setting school, NCAA and U.S. Open records. And she helped lead the Lady Tigers to their first SEC relay championships since 1984.

“That rivals my Olympic gold, honestly,” she says of the two 2023 relay wins.

Her decision to stay at LSU and train for the Paris Games was a bit historic, too. While many professional swimmers head to hubs like Arizona or California after their NCAA eligibility expires, Mac Neil opted to stay in Baton Rouge.

Her longstanding relationship with Bishop made it an easy decision.

“We’ve always had a really great coaching partnership. It’s not so much him telling me what to do and me obeying, but more like a conversation,” Mac Neil says.

Her commitment to her education also played a role. She earned a master’s degree in sports management from LSU in May, and has her hopes set on law school in the future.

And after Paris she plans to hop back into training with Bishop in Baton Rouge. But not before a well-earned European vacation.

It’ll be the longest time she’s spent away from the training waters in years—yet another first to add to Mac Neil’s record book.

This article was originally published in the June 2024 issue of 225 Magazine.