The future has arrived: Summer McIntosh, the child prodigy who threatens to break all records

The future has arrived: Summer McIntosh, the child prodigy who threatens to break all records
Ledecky congratulates McIntosh at the Toronto 2022 World Cup short pool

Summer McIntosh made her big presentation at the Tokyo Olympic Games and when she was only 14 years old she was one step away from the podium, the world understood that another chair had to be added to the table where the big swimming greats sit. From that moment on, the Canadian did not stop growing and the last blow came when she beat the world record held by the Australian Ariarne Titmus in the 400 freestyle.

“I didn’t think the record was a possibility,” McIntosh acknowledged at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, where the Canadian Trials for the World Cup were held, after nailing the clock at 3:56.08.

Time allowed the 16-year-old girl to crush the 3:56.40 that Titmus had established on May 22, 2022 to dethrone the record that the American Katie Ledecky had achieved at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“For the past few years I’ve been putting my life into this: being the best I can be. To achieve something like this was very unexpected. It was never in my dreams to do this tonight or even a few years ago. This just leaves me amazed,” said the swimming child prodigy.

“I’m not really sure what to say. This is something special. I’ve seen her do some really special things in practice. I am very proud of her. She’s one of the best runners I’ve ever seen,” said her coach Brent Arckey.

The inspiration started within the family: her mother, Jill Horstead, was also a swimmer and participated in the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Summer flirted with figure skating (her sister, Brooke, forms for the Canadian national team), but in an interview she explained “not having the mentality to be thrown into the air with knives on my feet” and ended up finding her place in the water.

McIntosh was born in Toronto and in her city last year she achieved what she surely once dreamed of between an arm and a stroke: to prevail hand in hand against Ledecky, the legend. The Canadian won the World Cup in front of her people, defeated the American and also set the junior record in the 400 (short pool) with 3:52.80.

The Tokyo Aquatic Center was the starting point for the Canadian of a race that continued months later with two medals (gold in 4×200 free and silver in 400) at the Short Pool World Championship in Abu Dhabi and continued with four more (gold in 200 butterfly and 400 combined; silver in 400 freestyle and bronze in 4×200 free) at the World Cup in Budapest, already in the Olympic pool.

“If I wake up at that time it’s to give 110% of myself. It doesn’t make sense to go to the pool and be in it for four hours if I’m only going to give 50,” Summer said of her training while everyone highlights work and effort beyond talent.

Less than a month ago of this historic record that she achieved in the 400 freestyle, McIntosh had already made a warning at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Fort Lauderdale that she was at a great level and also gave another example of her ability to swim in various styles: she achieved junior world records in 200 medleys (2:08 .08), 200 butterfly (2:05 .05) and 200 freestyle (1:54 .13), a test in which she surpassed Ledecky again.

The Fukuoka World Cups (in July of this year) and Doha (start of 2024) will be the next two big swimming events before the last stop, in Paris, where McIntosh will seek the medal at the Olympic Games that was narrowly denied in Tokyo.

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