LSU Women Earn Highest SEC Finish Since 2014-15; Eight Gold Medals Sets Program Record
BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The LSU women’s swimming and diving historic performance at the 2023 SEC Championships continued Saturday with swimmers Maggie MacNeil, Ella Varga, and a quartet of Tigers in a relay adding three more gold medals to the team’s total of eight inside Texas A&M’s Rec Center Natatorium.
The Tiger women finish the SEC Championships with a fifth-place finish, the highest for the program since the 2014-15 season. The team finished with 775 points.
At the conclusion of the meet, the SEC handed out awards for the top point scorers, swimmers of the meet, and divers of the meet. MacNeil was awarded the Commissioner’s trophy after collecting 96 points and she is the first LSU athlete to win since 1997.
Additionally, she was named the Female Swimmer of the Meet.
LSU came into the fifth and final day of the SEC meet with eight medals – five gold and three bronze. During the first two finals of the day, Varga and MacNeil extended the number of gold medals to a program record of seven with wins in the 200-yard backstroke and 100-yard freestyle. The relay team of Katarina Milutinovich, MacNeil, Michaela de Villiers, and Megan Barnes added the eighth and final gold medal.
MacNeil’s 100-free split in the 400-free relay is the fastest split in history. She split 45.26.
Varga, only a freshman, swam in the prelims and earned the No. 3 seed heading into the final session. When the time came, Varga stepped up and took down a strong field of competitors, lowering her school record time from the prelim session to 1:51.74.
With MacNeil’s performance in the 100-free, she became a three-time individual SEC Champion with previous wins coming in the 50-free and 100-fly. She touched the wall first with a time of 46.27, which broke the Rec Center Natatorium pool record, previously set by Stanford’s Simone Manuel.
Alongside MacNeil, LSU qualified three other swimmers for the 100-free finals. Milutinovich swam in the B final and finished 13th with a time of 48.73. Barnes and de Villiers competed in the C final, finishing in 19th place and 23rd place, respectively.
For the men, Brooks Curry competed in the A final of the 100-free and finished in fifth place with a time of 41.88. Griffin Curtis, who swam in the 200-back broke the program record with a time of 1:42.08 and claimed 18th place. Thomas Smith held the previous mark since 2015.
Mitch Mason in the final individual swimming event – the 200-yard breaststroke – also broke the school record with a time of 1:54.65. He won the bonus final after qualifying during the morning’s prelims. Silas Dejean held the previous record for six years.
LSU now looks forward to the NCAA Championships, where the women have qualified in all five relays after clocking A standards in the 200-yard free and 400-yard free relays. The other three times are B standard times.
Individually, MacNeil has the opportunity to vie for four NCAA titles. The four A standard times include the 50-free, 100-free, 100-back, and 100-fly. For the other events, LSU has a slew of Tigers with provisional times and awaits their potential invites.
Gold – Maggie MacNeil (100-fly, 50-free, 100-free); Jenna Bridges (200-fly); Ella Varga (200-back); Montserrat Gutierrez Lavenant (Platform); Katarina Milutinovich, MacNeil, Michaela de Villiers, Megan Barnes (400-free relay); Katarina Milutinovich, MacNeil, Michaela de Villiers, Peyton Curry (200-free relay)
Bronze – Maggie Buckley (Platform); Chiara Pellacani (3M, 1M)