Summer McIntosh Lowers Canadian Record, Makes 400 Free Olympic Final At 14


You wouldn’t know that Summer McIntosh was swimming in her first Olympic race by watching her 400 freestyle prelim on Sunday evening in Tokyo, as the 14-year-old seamlessly made her debut on the world’s biggest stage by breaking the Canadian Record and qualifying for the final.

Racing head-to-head with the greatest female distance swimmer in history, Katie Ledecky, McIntosh showed no signs of nerves as she went out aggressively in the third of four heats in the event, even leading the American through the 100-meter turn in 57.20.

McIntosh turned in 1:58.66 at the 200, and came home in a strong 30.25 over the final 50 after a trio of 31-lows, putting up a final time of 4:02.72. The time chops 2.41 seconds off of the Toronto native’s previous best of 4:05.13, and also downs Brittany MacLean‘s Canadian Record of 4:03.43 set at the 2016 Games in Rio (where she finished fifth). MacLean was also an Olympic finalist in the event in 2012, placing seventh.

McIntosh’s previous PB also stood as the fastest-ever 400 free time from a swimmer aged 14 and under, so she crushes that record, and also becomes the 18th-fastest swimmer of all-time in the event.

Split Comparison

MacLean, 2016 Olympics McIntosh, 2021 Take5 HP Event McIntosh, 2021 Olympics
28.50 28.02 27.29
58.49 (29.99) 58.16 (30.14) 57.20 (29.91)
1:29.22 (30.73) 1:29.05 (30.89) 1:27.71 (30.51)
1:59.72 (30.50) 2:00.04 (30.99) 1:58.66 (30.95)
2:30.78 (31.06) 2:30.99 (30.95) 2:29.80 (31.14)
3:01.79 (31.01) 3:02.54 (31.55) 3:01.14 (31.34)
3:33.00 (31.21) 3:34.06 (31.52) 3:32.47 (31.33)
4:03.43 (30.43) 4:05.13 (31.07) 4:02.72 (30.25)

In many ways, McIntosh is following in the footsteps of MacLean, as the two share the same home team, the Etobicoke Swim Club.

The youngest Canadian Olympian at the 2020 Games, McIntosh easily advanced to the 400 free final in fifth place, and finds herself with an outside shot at a medal.

Ledecky and Australian Ariarne Titmus, who qualified first and third for the final in respective times of 4:00.45 and 4:01.66, are expected to duel it out for the gold, but the bronze is largely up for grabs. China’s Li Bingjie broke her four-year-old Asian Record in the prelims in a time of 4:01.57, so McIntosh is realistically only about a second outside of what it will likely take to get on the podium.

A couple of other teenagers, 17-year-old Erika Fairweather of New Zealand and 19-year-old Isabel Gose of Germany, will also be factors in the hunt for bronze in the morning, having set their respective National Records of 4:02.28 and 4:03.21.

Canada has only won one medal in the women’s 400 free in Olympic history—a bronze from Shannon Smith on home soil in Montreal in 1976.

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1 month ago

Just an awesome swim from Summer. Congrats on getting to your first Olympic Games final. Best of luck tonight!

Go, Summer, go!
1 month ago

Didn’t we tell you with absolute certainty that Summer will be in the final?! Go, Summer, go!!!!

Nancy Pulham
1 month ago

I sense she has a whole other gear that we will see in the finals.
Go Summer!!

Bobo Gigi
1 month ago

US 13/14 NAG record is 4.07.15 by Sippy Woodhead in 1978.
Amazing year for Summer McIntosh so far.
Why not a medal in final?

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 month ago

This has about a 0.1% chance of happening, but it would be awesome if somehow McIntosh and Pellegrini both make the podium in the 200 free.

Pellegrini had already won medals in the 200 free at Olympics and Worlds before Summer was even born!

1 month ago

It is the Olympic finals. After yesterday’s mens 400 free final anything is possible out of any lane. The Tunisian swimmer pulled off the most incredible win out of lane 8!

1 month ago

Another wonder girl is born! 4.02 at 14!Sick!

1 month ago

I thought she was going to die at the end since she went out so fast but her splits after 150m are pretty good. If she backed off a bit on the start I think she could be close to 1 second faster and if she was holding back on the last 100 maybe she can take off even more.

Pearlie chan
1 month ago

Go, Summer, We are all proud of you !!!

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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