McIntosh Swims Huge 800 Free Best (8:11.39), First Swimmer To Beat Ledecky In Over 13 Years

2024 SOUTHERN ZONE SOUTH SECTIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

  • Thursday, February 8 – Sunday, February 11, 2024
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Rosen Aquatic & Fitness Center
  • LCM (50 meters)
  • Meet Central
  • Psych Sheets
  • Full results under “Southern Zone South Sectional Championships” on MeetMobile

17-year-old Canadian Summer McIntosh just did something that no woman had done in over 13 years.

On the opening night of the 2024 Southern Zone South Sectional Championships, McIntosh set a huge personal best time of 8:11.39, dropping nearly nine seconds from her previous best of 8:20.19 set last February. That time is a Commonwealth and Canadian record and makes her the second-fastest performer of all-time. But perhaps more historic than the records that she set was the fact that she became the first swimmer to beat Katie Ledecky in an 800 freestyle final* since 2010, when she was 13 years old.

*Leah Smith beat Ledecky 8:17.23 to 8:17.42 in prelims of the 800 free at the 2019 World Championships, swimming in the same heat.

Yes, Katie Ledecky, the world record holder, three-time defending Olympic champion, and six-time defending world champion in the 800 free. At this sectionals meet, McIntosh dominated her, with the American’s time of 8:17.12 being just under six seconds behind what the Canadian went.

Before McIntosh’s swim, Ledecky had the 29 fastest times in the history of women’s 800 free. Now, that list has been cut down to just 16 times.

All-Time Top Performers, Women’s 800-meter freestyle (LCM):

  1. Katie Ledecky, United States — 8:04.79 (2016)
  2. Summer McIntosh, Canada — 8:11.39 (2024)
  3. Li Bingjie, China — 8:13.31 (2023)
  4. Ariarne Titmus, Australia — 8:13.59 (2022/2023)
  5. Rebecca Adlington, Great Britain — 8:14.10 (2008)

Previously, the Commonwealth record was a time of 8:13.59 held by Australia’s Ariarne Titmus (which she went at the 2021 Olympics and 2022 Commonwealth Games), whereas Brittany MacLean‘s 8:20.02 from 2010 was the old Canadian record.

Split Comparison Tables:

Summer McIntosh, 2024 Southern Zone Sectional Championships Katie Ledecky, 2024 Southern Zone Sectional Championships Katie Ledecky, 2016 Olympic Games (world record)
58.72 58.24 57.98
1:59.81 (1:01.09) 1:59.66 (1:01.42) 1:59.42 (1:01.44)
3:01.65 (1:01.84) 3:02.05 (1:02.39) 3:00.76 (1:01.34)
4:03.63 (1:01.98) 4:04.67 (1:02.62) 4:01.98 (1:01.22)
5:05.63 (1:02.00) 5:06.96 (1:02.29) 5:02.94 (1:00.96)
6:07.45 (1:01.82) 6:09.49 (1:02.53) 6:04.30 (1:01.36)
7:09.69 (1:02.24) 7:13.28 (1:03.79) 7:05.44 (1:01.14)
8:11.39 (1:01.70) 8:17.42 (1:03.34) 8:04.79 (59.35)
8:11.39 8:17.12 8:04.79

The last time Ledecky lost an 800 free final was at the 2010 Potomac Vally Championships in Maryland, where she placed third. She did place second in an 800 free heat at the 2019 World Championships but then went on to claim gold in the finals.

At the upcoming 2024 Olympic games, the 800 free final will notably happen in the same session as the 200 IM, an event where McIntosh is also the world’s top performer this year. She didn’t race in either event at the 2022 or 2023 World Championships.

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John26
19 days ago

I hope when the dust clears and McIntosh/Titmus/Ledecky generation moves on from the sport in the 2030s, we don’t go back to watching 4:01s fight for gold in the 400 for 10-15years like we did after Thorpe retired

Chlorinetherapy
19 days ago

Wow!! Even looked like Katie brought her legs in much earlier than usual for her.

jhs52
19 days ago

While MacIntosh’s performance is impressive, remember that both she and Katie chose not to go to Doha to prepare for Paris. With that in mind, I would not consider Katie’s performance this week as a fully tapered and race prepped effort. I am a huge Katie fan and would hold any conclusions about her dominance in the 800 until after Paris later this year.

ScovaNotiaSwimmer
Reply to  jhs52
19 days ago

Right…but Summer’s performance was also not a fully tapered and race prepped effort so that’s a wash, right?

Lisa
Reply to  ScovaNotiaSwimmer
19 days ago

I think we all know Ledecky can go much faster than 8:17 just like last year so thats why she’s not tapered and clearly on training for Paris.

Slow Swimmer X
Reply to  Lisa
19 days ago

The same can be said for Summer, right?

Summer is not tapered and clearly on training for Paris.

CanuckSwimmer
Reply to  Lisa
19 days ago

I’d like to add that I’m sure Summer doesn’t even train for this specific race either. She is also training for a heavy olympic schedule so probably not tapered either (clearly).

Washed Up
Reply to  CanuckSwimmer
19 days ago

Training for 400 IM is pretty tough. I think that would prepare you for 800 free.

Bo Swims
19 days ago
Vio
19 days ago

Imagine the race if Summer chooses to swim the 800 in Paris. Has Katie been pushed that hard in the 800, head to head, on a big stage? How fast could they go?!

Last edited 19 days ago by Vio
Lisa
Reply to  Vio
19 days ago

I guess you forgot Ledecky did go 8:07 at trial last year and 8:08 at world champs and I think we’ve seen Ledecky been pushed before at world champs 2019 and that’s why I still think Ledecky is still the favorite going for Paris .

jeff
Reply to  Vio
19 days ago

Lol Katie got pushed pretty hard in Tokyo but I’m guessing that’s not what you meant

tea rex
19 days ago

13 years has to be the longest unbeaten streak of all time, swimming it every year – right?
I remember Peirsol went 6-7 years in both backstrokes.
When was the last time Sjostrom lost a 50 fly?

The unoriginal Tim
Reply to  tea rex
19 days ago

It must be the record. Ledecky has been unbeaten and top of the FINA season rankings for 12 consecutive years from 2012 to 2023. In 2011 she was also apparently unbeaten but was still competing at junior level and only 54th in the FINA rankings that year (she was only 13 then).

Will she be top of the ranking this year and will she win in Paris?

Lisa
Reply to  The unoriginal Tim
19 days ago

She probably will.

Free Thinker
Reply to  tea rex
19 days ago

Phelps in the 400IM from 2002 – 2016? Did he lost a 400IM in there? I thought maybe Salnikov in the 1500 but he lost it a bit in 1986-1987.

Jimmy DeSnuts
Reply to  Free Thinker
19 days ago

Phelps got 4th in the 400IM in London, and I doubt that’s the only time he lost it during that span

John26
20 days ago

How many of Ledecky’s 800free swims outside of taper meets / championships (ex the Santa Clara meet) have actually been faster this? Have any?

Yabo
Reply to  John26
19 days ago

Didnt she literally break her world record in season in 2016?

Edit: Yes she did, Austin arena pro series meet. 8:06.68.

Also in 2019 she was 8:10 at a pro series meet.

Last edited 19 days ago by Yabo
Breezeway
20 days ago

the 800 free might be easier to win than the 200IM in Paris for Summer

Lisa
Reply to  Breezeway
20 days ago

Yeah I don’t buy that and especially when Ledecky probably gonna be ready to win her fourth gold and Summer probably gonna break the world record in 200IM

Breezeway
Reply to  Lisa
20 days ago

I’m not doubting Summer can win the 200IM but Douglass, McKeown and Walsh are all getting better and faster in it also. I would pick Summer but those other 3 are coming. Ledecky’s trajectory is pointing down, not up like the others

Lisa
Reply to  Breezeway
20 days ago

Ledecky just went 8:17 and just lost by six second and this swims just show that she’s still training for Paris and while Summer times show that it bodes well for her other events and saying 800 free is easier to win than 200IM for Summer at Paris is like saying men’s 1500 free is easier to win for any men’s distance swimmer right now

ooo
Reply to  Breezeway
19 days ago

I do not think so. Ledecky is still the runaway favorite. She is probably dead tired training with Finke all day. Summer is already the best in the world over 200IM, no reason to switch.

Lisa
Reply to  ooo
19 days ago

Yeah and she lost by six second and way off with 8:17 and I still don’t buy somehow she’s gonna lose this summer

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming by being her high school swim team's manager for four years. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in January 2022, where she hopes to contribute to and learn more about …

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