Summer McIntosh Crushes 3:52.8 WJR, Rallies Past Katie Ledecky for 400 Free Win


Canadian phenom Summer McIntosh showed off her closing speed in a thrilling 400-meter freestyle victory over American star Katie Ledecky at the Toronto stop of the 2022 FINA World Cup on Friday. 

The 16-year-old McIntosh blazed a 13.91 on her final 25-meter length of the pool — by far her fastest split since her opening lap — to edge Ledecky by just .08 seconds with a 3:52.80, the second-fastest time in history. It marked a new world junior record and World Cup record, both of which had been held by China’s Wang Jianjiahe, who was a second slower in 2018 with a time of 3:53.97. It’s her fifth world junior record in total, second only to Claire Curzan‘s six. 



  1. Summer McIntosh (CAN) – 3:52.80 WJ WC
  2. Katie Ledecky (USA) – 3:52.88 AR
  3. Siobhan Haughey (HKG) – 3:58.50

McIntosh only got better as the back-and-forth race wore on, shaving nearly five seconds off her previous-best time of 3:57.75 from the International Swimming League (ISL) playoffs last November. 

“I’m very, very happy with the time,” McIntosh said after her first World Cup win. “I did not think I’d ever go that, to be honest. I didn’t really know where I stood in the 400 free right now for short course. But I’m just really happy with how the race felt, how I was able to hold my stroke, and my turns, and things like that. I felt very conditioned in the race so I’m looking forward to the rest of the races coming up.”

Ledecky appeared in control for the first half of the race, but McIntosh took a slim .17-second lead with 100 meters to go. In just her third-ever short-course meter (SCM) meet, the 25-year-old Ledecky rallied back to take a .31-second lead with 50 meters left and maintained a .23-second edge entering the final length. That’s when McIntosh found another gear to barely push past Ledecky, who came home in 14.22. Ledecky’s final time of 3:52.88 lowered her own American record from 2019. 

Splits Comparison, McIntosh vs. Ledecky

Summer McIntosh Katie Ledecky
25 13.02 13.00
50 14.35 14.20
75 14.56 14.45
100 14.54 14.50
125 14.63 14.61
150 14.66 14.65
175 14.62 14.65
200 14.66 14.76
225 14.68 14.81
250 14.75 14.77
275 14.78 15.04
300 14.91 14.90
325 14.85 14.75
350 15.01 14.63
375 14.87 14.95
400 13.91 14.22
Total 3:52.80 3:52.88

“I didn’t know what to expect coming into this meet,” Ledecky said afterward. “I don’t really have a good sense of what good short-course times are for me right now. So I’m just trying not to put limits on myself and just go for it.”

McIntosh and Ledecky’s performances both would have been world records by more than a second just about 48 hours ago. Only three women have ever clocked a sub-3:53 time, and they’ve all occurred within the past two days. China’s Li Bingjie smashed Ariarne Titmus’ previous world record by 2.62 seconds at the Chinese Swimming Championships on Thursday. 

Best 400 Free Times, SCM

  1. Li Bingjie (CHN) – 3:51.30, 2022
  2. Summer McIntosh (CAN) – 3:52.80, 2022
  3. Katie Ledecky (USA) – 3:52.88, 2022
  4. Ariarne Titmus (AUS) – 3:53.92, 2018
  5. Jianjiahe Wang (CHN) – 3:53.97, 2018

At the World Championships in June, Ledecky outdueled McIntosh in the long-course version of this event, but not by much. Ledecky claimed the 400 free title in a meet-record time of 3:58.15, just over a second ahead of McIntosh’s 3:59.39.

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4 months ago

Titmus not swimming world short course December got no idea why . Robbed of a Ledecky Summer Titmus duel

Reply to  kev
4 months ago

Summer and Ledecky are also not going to SC worlds.

4 months ago

When was the last time a Canadian women’s national record was faster than an American women’s national record? This doesn’t happen that often.

When Annamay Pierse held the SCM world record in the 200 breaststroke back in 2009??

Reply to  1001Pools
4 months ago

Women’s 400 IM has Macintosh at 4:29 and Hoff at 4:31

Reply to  1001Pools
4 months ago

Summer 4Im, Maggie has the Wr in 50 bk, and Im pretty sure her 100 fly is. Kylie had the Wr in 100 bk. It’s not that rare.

Reply to  1001Pools
4 months ago

100 fly LCM?

50 back SCM

Last edited 4 months ago by ScovaNotiaSwimmer
Reply to  1001Pools
4 months ago

Kylie Masse held the WR in the 100 back.

Reply to  1001Pools
4 months ago

Got roasted by the looks

Fraser Thorpe
5 months ago

This is just everything I’d hoped for – well Siobhan maybe swimming a ‘54/‘55 would have been icing on the cake – but so excited for this event going forward

5 months ago

I love the animation!

5 months ago

Great race and Summer is an amazing talent but I wouldn’t count Katie out just yet.. She looked like she enjoyed the competition. Too bad we couldn’t hear her post race interview

Reply to  GeorgiaRambler
4 months ago

will never count katie out but also… can’t we chill on expectations? she’s one of the greatest swimmers of all time with nothing left to prove. It almost feels like expecting her to continue the same trajectory is damaging to her legacy. you can’t keep one-upping forever

Reply to  anon
4 months ago

Agreed and the fact that she has a chance to break a world record this week and next week proves that she is not slowing down and still fast.

Reply to  anon
4 months ago

Of course I agree 100% but it wasn’t that long ago that many were saying she was washed up, aging (at 25) etc. Besides she is so darn nice that I can’t help rooting for her to continue to amaze us with her swims and part of her legacy is the new crop of impossibly fast young swimmers

5 months ago

holy flip

Sherry Smit
5 months ago

Incredibly excited to see what the future holds for this young star. She will be here for years to come, and it shocks me how incredibly versatile she is. She’s a digger and a fighter to the end, and just upset the legend of distance swimming. Realistically, she could win the 200/400 FR, 200 FL, and 200/400 IM at the Paris Olympics, and I wouldn’t put it past her to say that she’s got a great chance in making the team in the 100 free, 100 fly, and even the 200 back. We could see one of the best swimmers in history at the Paris Olympics, swimming the 100/200/400 free, 200 back, 100/200 fly, and 200/400 IM.

Reply to  Sherry Smit
5 months ago

she’s literally a mastermind!!! it’s almost scary what the future holds

Memma Eckeon
Reply to  Sherry Smit
4 months ago

Plus the relays

I don’t see quite 8 gold medals like Phelps, but maybe 8 medals of any color

Reply to  Memma Eckeon
4 months ago

Yeah I don’t know about that and she could win a medal but a win is not gonna be easy for Canadian team on the relays

Last edited 4 months ago by Lisa
Reply to  Sherry Smit
4 months ago

Let’s see what she does in 2023 first. But that’s a bold program. The 200 FR / 400 IM double would the toughest one, but there is enough space between them. I think she could go a safer route ala McKeown in Tokyo and swim less individual events, though.

Reply to  Sherry Smit
4 months ago

She’s definitely a special talent, but she’s not going to be swimming that many individual events in Paris as she will also be swimming relays as well.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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