Canadian Women Scare 4×200 Free World Record In 7:32.96, 2nd-Fastest Ever


The Canadian women took a run at the world record in the final of the women’s 4×200 freestyle relay on Monday night in Abu Dhabi, narrowly missing the mark while winning gold in dominant fashion.

The quartet of Summer McIntosh (1:54.30), Kayla Sanchez (1:52.97), Katerine Savard (1:54.01) and Rebecca Smith (1:51.68) combined for a final time of 7:32.96, falling just over a tenth shy of the 7:32.85 world record set by the Netherlands at the 2014 SC World Championships in Doha.

Despite falling shy of the record, the team does lower the previous Canadian Record by almost a full second, downing the mark of 7:33.89 set by the foursome of Savard, Taylor Ruck, Kennedy Goss and Penny Oleksiak at the 2016 SC Worlds in Windsor.

That time from five years ago already had the Canadians ranked #2 all-time in the event behind the Dutch.

Split Comparison – World Record

Though in slightly different orders, the Dutch and Canadian teams had very similar splitting throughout their lineup. A 1:54 lead-off, and three legs of 1:51, 1:52-high and 1:54-low.

From that perspective, the difference-maker for the Dutch was Femke Heemskerk, who was a blazing 1:51.22 swimming second compared to Canada’s 1:51 splitter, Smith, who was just over four-tenths off.

Heemsker’s split from that 2014 race is the fastest of all-time, according to USA Swimming’s database (though it’s slower than the flat-start world record of 1:50.31 set by Siobhan Haughey earlier in these championships), and Smith’s leg overtakes Ruck for #2 on the list.

Netherlands, 2014 SC Worlds Canada, 2021 SC Worlds
Inge Dekker – 1:54.73 Summer McIntosh – 1:54.30
Femke Heemskerk – 1:51.22 (3:45.95) Kayla Sanchez – 1:52.97 (3:47.27)
Ranomi Kromowidjojo – 1:54.17 (5:40.12) Katerine Savard – 1:54.01 (5:41.28)
Sharon van Rouwendaal – 1:52.73 (7:32.85) Rebecca Smith – 1:51.68 (7:32.96)

Split Comparison – Canadian Record

Compared to the previous Canadian Record, the teams were virtually even at the halfway mark before Savard slightly outsplit what Goss did in 2016, and then Smith was more than three-tenths better than Oleksiak was.

Canada, 2016 SC Worlds Canada, 2021 SC Worlds
Katerine Savard – 1:55.53 Summer McIntosh – 1:54.30
Taylor Ruck – 1:51.69 (3:47.22) Kayla Sanchez – 1:52.97 (3:47.27)
Kennedy Goss – 1:54.62 (5:41.84) Katerine Savard – 1:54.01 (5:41.28)
Penny Oleksiak – 1:52.05 (7:33.89) Rebecca Smith – 1:51.68 (7:32.96)

Compared to their flat-start best times, McIntosh was .65 slower than she went in the individual 200 free final (1:53.65), where she finished fifth, while Smith, with a relay exchange, was over half a second faster than her silver medal-winning effort from the individual race, where she established a new Canadian Record in 1:52.24.

Sanchez’s flying split of 1:52.97 was just off her flat-start best of 1:52.59 from 2018, though well under her fastest swim since the beginning of 2020, a 1:54.06 last month in the ISL playoffs, while Savard’s split was just under her PB of 1:54.21 set in 2016.

The Canadian team as a whole has had a phenomenal performance in Abu Dhabi, and that was on full display on Monday as Sydney Pickrem won gold in the women’s 200 IM and Maggie MacNeil did one better by placing first and smashing the world record in the women’s 50 back.

Then came the relay win, which marked the country’s sixth gold medal of the championships and second in a relay. On the first night of competition, the Canadian women tied with the Americans for gold in a national record time of 3:28.52 in the 4×100 free relay.

The U.S. won silver here in the 4×200 free, finishing more than three and a half seconds back in 7:36.53, while the Chinese team, that led early, took third in 7:39.92.

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11 months ago

Ruck, Sanchez, Oleksiak, McIntosh… no team will ever beat the inevitable sub-7:30 they’ll throw down next SC Worlds, nor the inevitable 7:38.xx LC this summer.

Reply to  SwimmerFan99
11 months ago


Reply to  Troyy
11 months ago

I remember when it felt like the American women were inevitable to break the LCM World Record in the 800 free relay. Missy, Schmitt, and Ledecky, all peaking at the same time – felt like they were going to destroy it.

The inevitable never happened, and then the Australian, and eventually Chinese, women got it instead without anywhere near the same individual talents.

I think people overrate how difficult it is, especially in the crowded modern swimming schedule, to get four swimmers all healthy and firing full-steam at the same time.

Reply to  Braden Keith
11 months ago

I think you mean underrate how difficult? But yes I agree. Australia coming up short after having flat starts add up to 7:39 is just another example.

Reply to  SwimmerFan99
11 months ago

Are you forgetting about fastest Canadian Rebecca smith? 1:51.6 split #2 all time isn’t getting spoken about enough, obviously whatever she is doing is teeing her up for a huge year!

11 months ago

Probably any of CAN, USA, AUS or CHN could take this WR down if they had a full A team.

Reply to  Troyy
11 months ago

Agreed. They would all go under the WR. The only area of interest would be the order in which the teams finished.

Swimming Is Awesome
11 months ago

When will we see a picture icon for Summer McIntosh under “In This Story”?

11 months ago

2016 Ruck and Oleksiak, along with 2021 Smith and Sanchez, would have obliterated that world record. A lot can happen in 3 years, both good and bad, but if they’re all healthy for Paris, look out.

Reply to  Ben
11 months ago

Penny medaled in 2021 in the 200. I’m sure she could have been 1:52.xx or faster. Next Sc worlds if canada choose the team properly all the WR’s are going down.

Reply to  Hodbsosn
11 months ago

She’s dealing with a back injury. That’s why she’s not at this year’s championship.

Big Mac #1
11 months ago

WR is the Canadians for the taking

11 months ago

Too bad they didn’t have Ruck available and in top form, that record would have taken a smashing!

11 months ago

Great job! Rebecca impressive! If only Summer did as well as she did in her individual final.
Future is bright!

Reply to  swimfan
11 months ago

A little harsh on the criticism of a 15 year-old at her first worlds…she swam amazingly well regardless of your critique.

Reply to  Justin
11 months ago

Swimswam just did a great 4 swipe post on people like “swimfan” after taking runs at MacNeil. It brings them pleasure so nothing you can do.

Dan Gains
Reply to  Justin
11 months ago


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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