SwimSwam Pulse: 56% Think Ledecky Would Still Best McIntosh In 800 Free Olympic Showdown

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers who they would pick to win the 800 free in Paris…if:

Question: If she raced it, would Summer McIntosh win 800 free gold over Katie Ledecky in Paris?


  • No – 56.1%
  • Yes – 43.9%

Summer McIntosh sent shockwaves around the globe last week when she handed Katie Ledecky her first loss in the 800 freestyle in more than 13 years.

Competing at the Southern Zone South Sectionals in Orlando, McIntosh pulled away from Ledecky on the back half of the race to finish in a time of 8:11.39, making her the second-fastest performer in history.

Ledecky, who still owns the 16 fastest times ever recorded, finished well back in 8:17.12.

McIntosh has proven she can do some unprecedented things. She broke the world record in the 400 free (3:56.08) and 400 IM (4:25.87) at the same meet last year, producing times in both events that she hadn’t come close to previously.

The ability to have a seismic drop in one event was once again the case in the 800 free, as she was nearly nine seconds faster than her previous best time of 8:20.19 last week.

McIntosh already has a busy event schedule with the 200 and 400 free, 200 fly, and 200 and 400 IM all potential options heading into her second Olympic appearance. But the question of where the 800 free could fit into the mix came to the forefront after what she did in Orlando.

If the 17-year-old opted to race the 800 free, it would mean forgoing the 200 IM, as the finals fall on the same night in Paris.

This led to our latest poll question: If McIntosh raced the 800, would she beat Ledecky?

Ledecky’s dominance in the event is well-documented, having won six straight world titles—though she’ll relinquish the title on Saturday in Doha—and three consecutive Olympic gold medals.

McIntosh hasn’t focused on the 800 free which makes it tricky to gauge how fast she could be if she did, especially with a full taper, but Ledecky still reigned supreme in the poll. The results were nearly 50/50 for a while, but Ledecky ultimately pulled away, garnering more than 56 percent of votes.

At the 2023 World Championships, for example, Ledecky won gold in 8:08.87, just two and a half seconds quicker than McIntosh was during a quiet timed finals session at a Sectionals meet in February. So there’s no doubt McIntosh is capable of it, resulting in her picking up 43.9 percent of votes.

If the Canadian had a similar event focus to Ledecky, keying in on the 200, 400 and 800 free for example, perhaps she would get more votes, but with her also training for the medley events and the 200 fly, perhaps she’s spread too thin to really take on Ledecky in the 800 free at this point in her career.

Will we see it? On the one hand, hopefully, but on the other, McIntosh racing Kate DouglassKaylee McKeown and Alex Walsh in the 200 IM would also be a barn-burner, so either option works for the fans.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: Which female swimmer gained the most momentum in Doha?

Which swimmer's stock has risen the most at the 2024 World Championships?

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.

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1 month ago

It is insane that 43% think Ledecky loses.

Mr Piano
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
1 month ago

Given that she just lost by 6 seconds to Summer can you really call it insane?

Last edited 1 month ago by Mr Piano
Reply to  Mr Piano
1 month ago

No I would called it more like overreacting when she just six second by going 8:17 in February and it’s gonna be different situation when it comes to the big meet like the Olympics.

1 month ago

Tang and Kohler have very much put themselves in conversation for an individual medal now. Curzan did great but in my head she’s still around the same place as she was in my head – serious medal threat in the backstrokes, but she has to make the team first. Fairweather is the same too; she gets bronze if any of the big 3 are too much off.

Reply to  jeff
1 month ago

Agreed. Curzan is doing great but none of her performances so far would have medalled in Fukuoka or Tokyo

Sherry Smit
1 month ago

Now the question is, will McIntosh drop a few more seconds and match Ledecky at around 8:08? It’s gonna be fun to watch for sure. She swims without fear and just guns it in the front.

1 month ago

Steenbergen went from being a well-rounded swimmer without much of a shot at a medal to a gold medal contender (not favorited though) in the 100 free. I think she deserves a place in this pole.

1 month ago

Distance athletes seem to improve the older they get in every other sport. The 800/1500 are incredibly short compared to marathon runners or elite cyclists, but I wonder why swimming doesn’t seem to follow. Even open water athletes are younger compared to other distance and endurance sports.

Beginner Swimmer at 25
1 month ago

only 1 way to find out 😈

Last edited 1 month ago by Beginner Swimmer at 25
Mr Piano
1 month ago

Ledecky will be a lot better in Paris with taper I’m sure, and she has the experience and the world record. But Summer has the young swimmer energy and is on an upward curve. If she swims I think it’ll be a tossup.

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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