The Fastest In-Season 200 Free Ever? Summer McIntosh’s 1:54.21 Is Up There


It was “only” the fourth-fastest swim of her career, but Summer McIntosh‘s 200 freestyle performance on the opening night of the Canadian Open on Wednesday was remarkable.

McIntosh has consistently broken new ground throughout her swimming career, and while this swim might not receive the accolades of a world, world junior, or even national record, it deserves some shine.

McIntosh rolled to a time of 1:54.21 in the final, just over half a second shy of her lifetime best and World Junior Record of 1:53.65 while standing up as what would have to be considered at least the fourth-fastest swim ever produced at an “in-season” meet.

The fastest swim ever produced at a non-championship meet (including National and Trials meets) is the 1:54.08 done by Siobhan Haughey at the Budapest leg of the World Cup last year—where she could’ve been near a full taper after being under world record pace for much of the race.

Behind that, only McIntosh’s 1:54.13 from the 2023 Fort Lauderdale Pro Swim (March 1) and Haughey’s 1:54.20 from the 2023 U.S. Open (Nov. 29) are faster non-championship swims than McIntosh’s 1:54.21 earlier this week.

The swim is the fastest we’ve seen so far in 2024, and ranks 2nd to Haughey in the 2023-24 world rankings.

2023-2024 LCM Women 200 Free

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In her post-race interview, the 17-year-old said she was focused on executing her race plan and splitting under fatigue, and mentioned she was satisfied hitting the time under her current training load, indicating she was nowhere near rested.

Looking at the splits of her four best swims, she’s been incredibly consistent:

Split Comparison – McIntosh

2023 Worlds 2023 Trials 2023 Fort Lauderdale PSS 2024 Canadian Open
27.03 27.02 27.13 26.99
55.82 (28.79) 55.58 (28.56) 56.08 (28.95) 55.72 (28.73)
1:24.77 (28.95) 1:24.87 (29.29) 1:25.15 (29.07) 1:25.08 (29.36)
1:53.65 (28.88) 1:53.91 (29.04) 1:54.13 (28.98) 1:54.21 (29.13)

In the all-time rankings, McIntosh’s swim stands up as the 24th fastest in history.

With the rise of McIntosh, Haughey, current world record holder Mollie O’Callaghan and defending Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus, we’ve incredibly seen 19 of the 25-fastest swims ever produced since the beginning of 2021. In other words, if McIntosh swam this time three and a half years ago, it would rank #6 all-time.

It was only 22 minutes later that she was back in the water for the 100 back, clocking 59.96 to near her lifetime best of 59.64 set in February.

“It was a quick little double but it was fun,” she said.

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1 month ago

A 1.54.2 outside of a major championship is very impressive. Like McKeown she has the ability to throw down fast times at random meets. If she decides to swim it at the Olympics she’s likely to be much faster but it’s by no means a certainty. At about the same time last year she set a world record in the 400FS and didn’t better that time at the World Championships.

1 month ago

I think as valid as this analysis is, I think there’s been a lot of weight being put on this 400 FS swim in Fukuoka that didn’t go to plan. As disappointing as it was, I think for now, it really was just one “bad” race; generally speaking, she has been able to improve in more swims than not. She was able to improve her 200 FS by about three tenths of a second from the same meet (1:53:91 to 1:53:65). But yes, I think the clash with the 4IM means she won’t be swimming this at the Olympics regardless.

Last edited 1 month ago by TomDeanBoxall
Stewart Fenwick
Reply to  TomDeanBoxall
1 month ago

She was clearly rattled by Titmus who touched first at 100 next to her.

She probably didn’t expect Titmus to be fast so early (Titmus was always behind Ledecky in 100-150-200-250 in all previous outings).

But she quickly moved on and swam PB in 200 free and fly and won her remaining events convincingly in such very mature swims.

She will have a much better 400 in Paris.

Last edited 1 month ago by Stewart Fenwick
Reply to  Stewart Fenwick
1 month ago

What happened that race, I don’t think we’ll ever know. But it looked to me as if she was quite uneasy the whole day – the prelims looked really uncomfortable for her, just didn’t look very smooth in the water. The final happened, and then her lead-off in the 4×1 was also very uncharacteristically slow.

It seemed more like she couldn’t physically take it out very fast (nor bring it back home, split 30.4 which is quite unusual for her) rather than be phased by Titmus because then I think we would’ve seen a fly-and-die strategy. I think she was like 1:57:4 at the half way mark which is not very fast (at least compared to the 1:55:91).

1 month ago

Summer is the bomb.

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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