The 17-Yr-Outdated Swimming Star Primed For a Breakout on the Paris Olympics

by Christina S. Brown
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TORONTO — Summer time McIntosh waited earlier than making her entrance.

It was mid-Might, the fourth night time of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials. McIntosh, who swam the primary two nights, was able to race the 400-meter particular person medley, an occasion through which she is already, at age 17, a world-record-holder and a two-time world champion.

Summer time McIntosh!” yelled the general public tackle announcer.

McIntosh stood beneath a reproduction of the Eiffel Tower on the Toronto Pan Am Sports activities Centre. She was the final swimmer to be referred to as. McIntosh walked to Lane 5, serenaded with roars from the group. She adjusted her goggles, placing her arms over the lenses as she stepped onto the beginning blocks.

The beep sounded, and McIntosh dove into the pool. Eight lengths. 100 meters for every stroke: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle.

Ten seconds into the race, McIntosh had the lead. By 100 meters, she was a physique size in entrance. By the ultimate 50 meters, McIntosh was the one swimmer seen on the printed. She was that far forward of her competitors.

The cheers crescendoed as McIntosh swam the ending size. Her mother and father, Greg and Jill, stood up and waved their arms.

McIntosh broke her personal world file as she touched the wall, posting a 4:24.38, virtually a second and a half quicker than her earlier mark.

The ten quickest ladies’s 400m IMs ever

RankSwimmerNationalityTimeYrOccasion

1

Summer time McIntosh

Canada

4:24.38

2024

Canadian Olympic trials

2

Summer time McIntosh

Canada

4:25.87

2023

Canadian swimming trials

3

Katinka Hosszu

Hungary

4:26.36

2016

Rio Olympics (ultimate)

4

Summer time McIntosh

Canada

4:27.11

2023

World Aquatics championships

5

Kaylee McKeown

Australia

4:28.22

2024

Australian nationwide championships

6

Shiwen Ye

China

4:28.43

2012

London Olympics

7

Katinka Hosszu

Hungary

4:28.58

2016

Rio Olympics (heats)

8

Summer time McIntosh

Canada

4:28.61

2022

Toyota U.S. Open

9

Summer time McIntosh

Canada

4:29.01

2022

Commonwealth Video games

10

Katinka Hosszu

Hungary

4:29.33

2017

FINA world championships

It was a crowning achievement at an Olympic Trials the place, in a number of situations, she swam the quickest instances on this planet this yr.

That is McIntosh’s stage. Racing in entrance of energetic crowds. The place she has enjoyable and feels comfortable.

“The group was completely electrical,” McIntosh mentioned of the followers throughout her world-record swim. “I heard all you guys through the breaststroke — it actually stored me going.”

In a couple of weeks, McIntosh will go from swimming in entrance of an Eiffel Tower reproduction to the confines of Paris La Défense Enviornment, house of the swimming occasions for the 2024 Paris Olympics, eight kilometers from the precise Eiffel Tower.

Within the “Metropolis of Lights,” the Canadian swimming sensation is able to shine.


McIntosh has deep swimming roots. Her mother, Jill, swam for Canada on the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. McIntosh adopted in her mother’s footsteps, swimming competitively beginning at 8 years previous. Away from the pool, McIntosh drew inspiration from American stars Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps. In her childhood room, McIntosh hung up posters of Ledecky. She named considered one of her cats “Mikey” in honor of Phelps. And he or she watched highlights of Phelps’ historic 2008 Beijing Video games, the place he received eight gold medals.

Swimming on the Etobicoke Swim Membership, McIntosh gained nationwide consideration. At 12, McIntosh lowered a 45-year-old Canadian age-group file within the 800-meter freestyle. At 14, she beat Penny Oleksiak, Canada’s most embellished Olympian, within the 200-meter freestyle on the 2020 Canadian Olympic Trials, securing her place on Canada’s workforce for the Tokyo Olympics.

She didn’t win any medals in Tokyo. However success quickly adopted.

Two Commonwealth Video games gold medals in her first look there. 4 world championship golds mixed in 2022 and 2023. World-record-holder within the 400-meter IM. All by 17 years previous.

Summer McIntosh


At Canada’s Olympic trials, 17-year-old Summer time McIntosh set a world file within the 400-meter IM. She’ll be a medal contender in 5 occasions in Paris. (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star / Getty Photographs)

One main motive is McIntosh relocating to Sarasota, Fla., to coach with coach Brent Arckey of the Sarasota Sharks. With COVID-19 pandemic restrictions nonetheless in Ontario, McIntosh wanted a pool to swim full-time.

The Selby Aquatic Heart in Sarasota, often known as the “Shark Tank,” was the proper place. Olympic-sized pool. A pleasant but aggressive surroundings. A coach in Arckey, who has expertise teaching Olympians.

It’s a regimented coaching program for McIntosh. 4 days every week she swims twice, early morning (6:30 to eight:30 a.m) and late afternoon (3 to five p.m.). The wake-ups could be as early as 4:15 a.m.

Dry-land coaching workouts. Two hours within the pool. Repeat.

That is what it takes to be among the many world’s finest swimmers. Even on robust days, McIntosh relishes the preparation for Paris.

“Motivation isn’t one thing that you simply all the time have each single day,” McIntosh instructed The Athletic in November. “It is available in waves. However I all the time have that self-discipline to regardless of how I really feel once I get up, I get to the pool and I strive my hardest.”


The Paris Olympic swimming program opens with a seismic race. The ladies’s 400-meter freestyle — on July 27, the primary full day of occasions in France — will possible characteristic a conflict between McIntosh, Ledecky and reigning Olympic and world champion Ariarne Titmus.

The final time these three raced collectively was the 400-meter freestyle eventually yr’s world championships. Titmus swam to a world file. Ledecky completed second whereas McIntosh was off the rostrum in fourth.

It’s from the dangerous races the place McIntosh says she learns and grows. After a dialog with Arckey and a day without work from competitors, McIntosh responded with 4 medals the remainder of the meet: two gold (200-meter butterfly and 400-meter IM) and two bronze (200-meter free and 4×100-meter medley relay).

McIntosh raced Ledecky, her idol, on the Toyota U.S. Open virtually 5 months after the 2023 worlds, beating the American within the 400 free with a meet-record time. They met once more in Orlando final February, the place McIntosh ended Ledecky’s 13-year reign within the 800-meter freestyle. Ledecky, who has recorded the 29 quickest 800-meter instances in historical past, hadn’t misplaced a ultimate within the occasion since 2010.

On the Canadian Olympic trials, McIntosh received the 400-meter freestyle in 3:59.06. It’s the quickest 400-meter freestyle of 2024, quicker than McIntosh’s world-championship run however virtually 4 seconds slower than Titmus’ world file (3:55.38). For many of the race, McIntosh was below the world-record tempo. However she was pissed off after, believing she might do higher.

“I do know I can go quicker. I’ve received to maintain pushing ahead,” McIntosh mentioned.

Arckey sees McIntosh’s 400-meter freestyle consequence in a different way. Two months out from Paris, there’s a pathway for enchancment.

“You’re not going to be making wholesale modifications,” Arckey instructed The Athletic after trials. “It’s her second quickest time ever and the quickest time on this planet at the moment. She’s laborious on her herself. Actually some issues to do higher, little question. That’s what the great ones do.”

McIntosh trials instances vs. final Olympics

OccasionMcIntosh at 2024 trialsGold at Tokyo Video gamesMcIntosh’s time vs. Tokyo area

200m freestyle

1:53.69

1:53.50 (Ariarne Titmus)

Silver

400m freestyle

3:59.06

3:56.69 (Titmus)

Bronze

200m butterfly

2:04.33

2:03.86 (Zhang Yufei)

Silver

200m medley

2:07.06

2:08.52 (Yui Ohashi)

Gold

400m medley

4:24.38

4:32.08 (Ohashi)

Gold


It’s the top of the Canadian Olympic trials and McIntosh, certified for the Olympics, is once more ready to be referred to as to the pool deck, becoming a member of her Swimming Canada teammates. As she walks out with Arckey, who can also be a coach for the Canadian nationwide workforce, she has a protracted embrace together with her mother.

Jill has been with Summer time each step of her younger swimming profession. And the household will probably be in Paris watching Summer time compete for her first Olympic medals.

After trials, McIntosh travels again to Sarasota to coach on the Shark Tank. A pair days of relaxation after which again to the pool for the ultimate eight-week push.

Arckey mentioned that he and McIntosh will replicate on trials earlier than sharpening the areas to enhance for Paris, the place the massive 400-meter freestyle showdown with Ledecky and Titmus awaits, together with the 4 different particular person occasions through which McIntosh certified. After fine-tuning in Sarasota, McIntosh will journey to Normandy for a staging camp together with her Swimming Canada teammates. Then the Paris Video games.

McIntosh has achieved greatness at worldwide occasions earlier than. It’s time to do it in Paris, an opportunity for the Summer time Video games to be Summer time’s video games.

Summer McIntosh


“I do know I can go quicker,” Summer time McIntosh says of her 400-meter freestyle. McIntosh, Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky have mixed for the 26 fastest-ever instances within the occasion. (Jared C. Tilton / Getty Photographs)
go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Summer time McIntosh, at 17, has everybody’s consideration. Now she’s after Olympic glory

(High illustration: Daniel Goldfarb / The Athletic; photograph: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Photographs)

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