2022 Swammy Awards: World Junior Female Swimmer of the Year – Summer McIntosh

To see all of our 2022 Swammy Awards, click here.


Summer McIntosh was a relentless force on the international stage throughout 2022, earning her World Junior Female Swimmer of the Year honors.

After announcing her presence as a rising talent at the Tokyo Olympics, McIntosh emerged as one of the best swimmers on the planet over the past 12 months, winning a pair of individual world titles and swimming some of the fastest times in history across multiple events.

At the Canadian Selection Trials Prep Invite in March, McIntosh, 15 at the time, produced a mind-boggling time of 4:29.12 in the women’s 400 IM, ranking her third all-time in what was the fastest swim since Katinka Hosszu set the world record of 4:26.36 at the 2016 Olympic Games.

That swim was simply the beginning of an astonishing year for McIntosh, having also swam to a new Canadian and World Junior in the 200 fly (2:05.81) just a day later at the prep meet.

After going four-for-four at the Canadian World Trials in April, including breaking her own National Record in the women’s 400 free (4:01.59), McIntosh made her Long Course World Championship debut in Budapest.

The Etobicoke Swimming product roared to world titles in the women’s 200 fly (2:05.20) and 400 IM (4:32.04), resetting her Canadian and World Junior Records in the former, and also went toe-to-toe with Katie Ledecky in the 400 free, earning a silver medal and another National Record in 3:59.39.

McIntosh also led off the Canadian women’s 800 free relay with a 200 free time of 1:54.79, setting a new World Junior Record and adding a bronze medal to her collection to give her four medals for the competition.

Next up was the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, and despite the quick turnaround from Worlds, McIntosh was arguably even better. She lowered her own records with a gold medal swim in the 400 IM (4:29.01), set a new WJR with a victory in the 200 IM (2:08.70), and battled Australian Ariarne Titmus in the 400 free, picking up the silver in another best time of 3:59.32.

McIntosh added three relay medals at the Games, including a lead-off leg of 54.62 on the 400 free relay and an anchor split of 53.33 on the 400 medley relay.

The accolades didn’t stop flooding in once the summer came to a close and the short course season began, as the now 16-year-old set new World Junior Records in the women’s 400 free (3:52.80) and 400 IM (4:21.49) in SCM on the FINA World Cup circuit, also adding another Canadian Record in the 800 free (8:07.12).

Her swim in the 400 free was a head-to-win over Ledecky, while the 400 IM performance made her the fourth-fastest swimmer ever.

McIntosh, now training with the Sarasota Sharks in Florida, then headed to the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. at the end of November, and somehow, dropped another record performance in the 400 IM.

This time, she touched in 4:28.61 for the fourth-fastest swim ever to improve on her WJR and Canadian Record from the Commonwealth Games, putting her within 15 one-hundredths of Ye Shiwen (4:28.43) for the second on the all-time performers’ list and giving her three of the six-fastest swims ever.

McIntosh also swam to a new lifetime best of 2:07.15 in the 200 back, neared her PB in the 400 free (3:59.79) in another exciting showdown with Ledecky, and then stayed in Greensboro to race short course yards for the first time at the Winter Junior Championships – East the following week. There, she became the #2 performer of all-time behind Ledecky in the 500 free, clocking 4:27.52.

Overall, McIntosh concludes the year as the owner of four individual World Junior Records in long course and an additional two in short course, and she now has her name attached to six Canadian senior records.

McIntosh’s World Junior Records

  • 200 free (LCM) – 1:54.79
  • 200 fly (LCM) – 2:05.20
  • 200 IM (LCM) – 2:08.70
  • 400 IM (LCM) – 4:28.61
  • 400 free (SCM) – 3:52.80
  • 400 IM (SCM) – 4:21.49

But nothing better displays her phenomenal year than looking at where she stacked up against the rest of the world this year. McIntosh ranks sixth or better across six different LCM events in 2022:

Event (LCM) 2022 World Rank Time Competition
Women’s 400 IM 1st 4:28.61 2022 U.S. Open
Women’s 200 butterfly 1st 2:05.20 2022 World Championships
Women’s 400 freestyle 3rd 3:59.32 2022 Commonwealth Games
Women’s 200 IM 3rd 2:08.70 2022 Commonwealth Games
Women’s 200 freestyle 4th 1:54.79 2022 World Championships
Women’s 200 backstroke 6th 2:07.15 2022 U.S. Open

Having only turned 16 in August, McIntosh is already knocking on the door of being the world’s best swimmer. She’s certainly the most versatile female on the planet, given her performances in the 400 IM, and at 15, she became just the fourth swimmer ever under 4:00 in the women’s 400 free.


  • Katie Grimes (USA) – After breaking through and qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team last year, Grimes followed up with a standout 2022 that included winning a pair of silver medals at the Long Course World Championships in the women’s 1500 free and 400 IM. The 16-year-old also won two gold medals at the World Junior Open Water Championships, broke the WJR in the 1500 free in short course meters, and also set U.S. National Age Group Records in both LCM and SCY for 15-16 girls in the 400 IM.
  • Benedetta Pilato (ITA) – Pilato came into the year with an impressive international resume considering she only turned 17 this past January, but took the next step in 2022, becoming the LC world champion in the women’s 100 breaststroke. The Italian native also won silver in the 50 breast at Worlds, and then competing on home soil at the European Championships in August, won gold in the 100 breast and took silver in the 50 breast once again.
  • Mio Narita (JPN) – Although she flew relatively under the radar, Narita swept the girls’ 200 and 400 IM at both the Junior Pan Pacific Championships and the World Junior Championships, adding a silver in the 200 back at Junior Pan Pacs. Having only turned 16 in mid-December, Narita also made headlines in March when she produced a time of 4:36.71 in the LCM 400 IM which was officially recognized as the WJR until McIntosh broke it.
  • Merve Tuncel (TUR) – Tuncel continued to boost her exemplary junior resume in 2022, sweeping the girls’ 400, 800 and 1500 free at the European Junior Championships and World Juniors, plus winning individual bronze at the European Championships. The 17-year-old Turkish native took the next step by earning a podium finish on the senior scene, claiming bronze in the women’s 800 free at the European Championships.


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5 months ago

Great article, but kindly asking if someone can explain the rationale behind not including Bella?

Christopher DeBari
5 months ago

It would be interesting to see her race Kate in the 200 IM. I don’t believe she trains for this race but I think she would make things very interesting at the next big LC meet if she did.

She’s a no brainer for Gold in the 400 IM unless the Sandpipers continue to get faster and this young lady doesn’t.

Her distance events- all Gold in 2024.

Dr. DoLittle
5 months ago

This is insanity! Bella Sims World Champion as anchor on the relay where they were slated for fourth, two JWR’s in 12 minutes apart and obliterates a NAG record baked in the books since 2016 and some others just hundredths from other NAG records but then crushed her last 12 plus races ranging from pure sprinting to the mile and no mention. Someone is flat dumb as hell. SMH. Are the same fools not picking her to swim short course worlds putting these votes in?!?

Reply to  Dr. DoLittle
5 months ago

You have heard of Summer McIntosh, haven’t you?

Dr. DoLittle
Reply to  Boknows34
5 months ago

Not talking in place of Summer but honorable mention. So calm you tits.

Reply to  Dr. DoLittle
5 months ago

Might be a good idea to mention that in the first place don’t you think?

Reply to  Dr. DoLittle
5 months ago

Yes, but what individual medals did she win? Everyone else listed won individual medals at senior or junior level. Sims probably could’ve contended for a medal in the 200 free at worlds but she under-performed at trials so only got a relay spot.

Reply to  Dr. DoLittle
5 months ago

You must be Sims dad.

Pacific Whirl
5 months ago

It’s an interesting decision to choose Tuncel over World medlaists like Hayes, Weinstein. and Dekkers in honorable mentions. This article needs to be corrected. How can Tuncel ‘sweeping the girls’ 400, 800 and 1500 free at Junior Pan Pacs’ while she is a Turk?

Last edited 5 months ago by Pacific Whirl
Reply to  Pacific Whirl
5 months ago

dekkers isn’t a junior she’s the same age as curzan and o’callaghan

Reply to  Pacific Whirl
5 months ago

I am not sure you read the article lol

5 months ago

Summer is obviously outrageously gifted but I must say I am really impressed with how she handles the pressure and challenges of being a prodigy. She has remarkable poise and self-possession.

Go Kamminga Go
5 months ago

Her outrageous talent + hard work + mental fortitude —-> one of the greatest female swimmers ever.

Reply to  Go Kamminga Go
5 months ago

We live in a world of TUEs my friend, don’t get carried away.

Reply to  Swamly
5 months ago

The most effective PEDs can’t be gotten as TUEs.

Awsi Dooger
5 months ago

Summer is so poised she never seems to view any swim as overly pivotal, and she’s not obsessed with her times. She turns around and glances at the time, without much of a reaction either way. She understands the steps along the way. Once she does break a major world record in a championship race it will be interesting to see if she becomes a water slapper.

The darn shame is that Summer’s birth date places her Olympics at ages 15-18-22 instead of the much more favorable 16-19-23 or especially 17-20-24. Summer would have been more than ready this year, at the edge of her 16th birthday. Instead we’ve got to wait until summer 2024, when she’ll already have been… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
5 months ago

Comment section needs more Numerology.

5 months ago

What a surprise!!!!
If ever there is a swimmer destined for greatness, it’s this swimmer. Summer McIntosh lived up to the hype & she delivered.
The fact that she is so versatile, she has many swimmers worried.
Just sit back & enjoy, she will be one of the greats, if everything falls in place.

5 months ago

It was always going to be McIntosh. The list of past winners looks interesting. It’s fair to say that quite a few of them haven’t gone on to enjoy the sort of success that was anticipated.

5 months ago

Use it as a cautionary tale. McIntosh has delivered hugely so far and she’s been fun to watch, but to put the weight of “future all-time great” on her shoulders is a little premature. A few of the women on that list had similar prospects before they hit rockier roads. Let her have fun and enjoy her success without the pressure.

Reply to  IRO
5 months ago

McIntosh has already had “future all-time great” expectations on her for all or most of 2022, if not earlier. Before the World Champs in Budapest, the SwimSwam preview questioned whether she would be able to handle the pressure (being a favorite in some events). McIntosh says she isn’t affected by the expectations of others and does not consider herself to be under any pressure from others to win medals or achieve other goals. All indications from her performances last year is that she is completely truthful in saying that.

Reply to  IRO
5 months ago

Calm down. McIntosh is a phenomenal swimmer and she’s already had success at the big meets. My comment about other winners whose careers did not follow the expected trajectory is an entirely separate matter.

5 months ago

Agreed 100%. The “Tale of Katie Hoff” comes to mind here…so much (fully warranted!) hype and yet. No Olympic gold. And sadly in our sport rightly or wrongly to become iconic (and cash in fully let’s be honest) you have to have that one medal. Pro at 16. Ran to the money (sound familiar?) and then missed out on the opportunity of growth (and dare we say FUN) of collegiate swimming, which might also have pushed her to the pinnacle of the Olympic podium in the right collegiate setting, which Hoff probably would have thrived in.
To me there seems to be some parallels between McIntosh and Hoff. Although less than Olympic Gold in Canada may come with more… Read more »

5 months ago

Couldn’t really be anyone else. Does this mean she can’t win the breakout swimmer award or can she win both?

Reply to  Troyy
5 months ago

Don’t know how SS will “rule” on this but under most definitions; she would most likely qualify. However, unlike this category, I can see any number of legitimate candidates for Female Breakout.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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