Olympic 100m butterfly gold medalist Maggie Mac Neil will not swim that race, or any other individual event, at the world championships in Budapest in June, reportedly citing anxiety, a pressure to succeed and time to rest after coming back from an elbow fracture last month.
“I always thought I was invincible. I was completely normal and fine in high school and most of college. But I think this year was a little more difficult for me,” Mac Neil said, according to CBC. “I’ve come across some post-Olympic struggles, and it’s been really challenging.”
Mac Neil, who won the 100m fly at the Canadian trials on Wednesday, will still go to worlds as a relay swimmer.
“It’s hard to stay at the top, and that pressure really got to me,” she said, according to CBC. “I need a chill summer. I don’t want to be out of international competition. I want to train and compete well for Canada, but I needed that little bit of a let up I guess.”
Mac Neil made her first international splash in 2019, winning the world 100m fly title by chopping .69 of a second off her personal best. Then a rising Michigan sophomore, she chased down world-record holder Sarah Sjöström of Sweden and moved from the 10th-fastest woman in history to second-fastest.
She then won Olympic gold in the third-fastest time in history, trailing a pair of Sjöström swims.
This year, Mac Neil ranks second in the world behind 17-year-old American Claire Curzan, who was 10th in Tokyo.
Sjöström previously said she does not plan to race the 100m fly at the world championships, focusing on the 50m freestyle and butterfly, 100m free and relays.
Australian Emma McKeon, the Olympic 100m fly bronze medalist, will not race at worlds at all, her coach Michael Bohl reportedly said in February. Later, a representative for McKeon said in March that a decision had not been made.
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