What Could McIntosh & Ledecky Have Done in the 200 Free? North America Day 5 Recap


Day 5 is in the books. The United States and Canada owned the pool in Budapest on Wednesday, bringing home a combined total of 8 medals–3 gold, 3 silver, and 2 bronze. 15-year-old Summer McIntosh of Canada also broke 2 World Junior Records, earning her first individual world title in the process in the 200 butterfly. Let’s get into it.

The Women’s 200 Freestyle in Hindsight

China’s Junxuan Yang won the gold medal in the women’s 200 freestyle in 1:54.92, 0.30 ahead of Australia’s Mollie O’Callaghan. Only one North American woman was present in this final, that being Canada’s Taylor Ruck who tied for 6th in 1:57.24, nearly a full 3 seconds off her best time.

Despite winning the 200 freestyle at U.S. Trials in April, Katie Ledecky chose not to swim the race in Budapest, choosing instead to focus on the 400, 800, and 1500 freestyles, as well as the 4 x 200 freestyle relay. Canadian Penny Oleksiak, meanwhile, the Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist in the race, was disqualified in the semi-finals. Canadian Trials champion Summer McIntosh, meanwhile, also chose not to swim the race, giving the to Ruck.

Though Ledecky failed to make the podium in the 200 free in Tokyo after winning gold in Rio, she’s still a force to be reckoned with in the race. The semifinals of the 200 freestyle fall on the same night as the finals of the 1500, and the 1500 comes first, so her decision to withdraw is understandable, but based on her swims in Budapest, her ability to take on the double and at least win a silver or bronze medal seem high.

As for McIntosh, the finals of the 200 free fall on the same day as the semi-finals of the 200 fly, with the finals of the 200 fly coming on the same day as the finals of the 4 x 200 freestyle relay. Even so, McIntosh is a middle-distance specialist with inclinations for the 200 fly, 200 free, and 400 IM reminiscent of Phelps, Lochte, and Hosszu.

So, did Ledecky and McIntosh make wise decisions when withdrawing from the 200 freestyle?

Based on what we’ve seen from them, both of them could have probably gotten on the podium. McIntosh, for instance, set a World Junior Record in the 200 freestyle leading off Canada’s 4 x 200 free relay, posting a 1:54.79, 0.13 faster than Junxuan Yang‘s winning time. Ledecky, meanwhile, split a 1:53.67 with a flying start on Team USA’s victorious 4 x 200 free relay. Furthermore, Ledecky split a 1:57.11 on the first 200 of her 400 freestyle, which itself would have been 6th in the individual 200 free, and just 0.86 off the bronze medal time in the 200–keep in mind, Ledecky’s split was to her feet while Muhan Tang‘s time came to a hand-touch.

3 Gold, 3 Silver, and 2 Bronze Medals Won on Day 5

Canada’s Kylie Masse won gold in the final of the women’s 50 backstroke, out-touching Team USA’s Katharine Berkoff by o.08. For Masse, this is 0.13 off her Canadian Record from April of this year.

Canada would pick up another gold medal in the women’s 200 fly where Summer McIntosh posted a 2:05.20, also setting a new World Junior Record. Team USA’s Hali Flickinger managed a silver medal, nearly a full second behind McIntosh.

Team USA also picked up gold in the women’s 4 x 200 freestyle relay, posting a Championship Record time of 7:41.5. While this is still over a second off of the World Record set by China at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics it was over 2 seconds clear of runners-up Australia. The team from Canada, meanwhile, snagged 3rd, beating the Chinese women by nearly a second to get on the podium. Katie Ledecky, Bella Sims, and Summer McIntosh in particular posted incredible splits, with McIntosh earning her 2nd World Junior Record of the evening with a 1:54.79 lead-off leg.

Canada’s Josh Liendo earned a bronze in the men’s 100 freestyle, touching only 0.13 behind champion David Popovici from Romania.

Team USA’s Carson Foster won his second silver medal of the meet in the men’s 200 IM, finishing about half a second behind champion Leon Marchand, who also won the 400 IM and took silver in the 200 fly.

Semi-Final and Non-Podium Swims

North America will be represented by four North Americans in the women’s 100 freestyle. Torri Huske (USA, 3rd), Penny Oleksiak (Canada, 4th), Kayla Sanchez (Canada, 6th), and Claire Curzan (USA, 7th) will all compete in the championship final Thursday.

Americans Ryan Murphy and Shaine Casas both advance to the final of the men’s 200 backstroke, seeded 1st and 6th, respectively.

North America will be represented in the women’s 200 breaststroke by Americans Lilly King and Kate Douglass, and Canada’s Kelsey Wog, who are going into the final seeded 2nd, 4th, and 5th, respectively. The men’s 200 breaststroke, meanwhile, will be represented by Team USA’s Nic Fink, who qualified for the final as the 7th seed, while Charlie Swanson laced 11th, failing to advance.

Team USA’s Regan Smith finished just off the podium in the 200 butterfly, placing 4th, and the 50 backstroke, tying for 5th with Australia’s Kaylee McKeown. Canadian Ingrid Wilm also placed 4th in the 50 backstroke, just 0.01 off the podium. 2017 World Champion and 2019 bronze medalist Chase Kalisz placed 4th in the men’s 200 IM after snagging bronze in the 400 IM earlier in the meet. American Brooks Curry placed 5th in the men’s 100 freestyle in 48.00, slower than his semi-finals time.

North American National Records — Day 5

North American Medal Table — Day 5

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
USA 11 6 9 26
Canada 2 3 2 7
13 9 11 33

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5 months ago

I think if both Ledecky and McIntosh swum it McIntosh would’ve won gold because Ledecky is often a lot faster in a relay than individually and Ledecky had to swim a 1500 between the 200 semis and final and we saw how this played out in Tokyo.

5 months ago

Don’t forget about Bella Sims going 1:55 in prelims and 1:54 in finals! Could very well have contended for a medal herself!

Reply to  NCSwimFan
5 months ago

Yes, but McIntosh and Ledecky could’ve swum it if they wanted to but Sims wasn’t fast enough at trials to earn an individual swim but it does seem like by Paris Weinstein and Sims will be taking those 2 individual spots whether Ledecky likes it or not.

Last edited 5 months ago by Troyy
5 months ago

Regarding Ledecky swimming the 200, “her ability to take on the double and at least win a silver or bronze medal seem high.” It’s easy for the author to say swim a 1500 and then a 200 in same night. He should try it some time.

Reply to  Rev
5 months ago

I mean the lack of foresight is the problem here- in a field full of 1:54 swimmers, it makes sense why Ledecky would sit it out and focus on the 1500, but if she was able to see the future (that 1:54.9 would win gold and 1:56 low would medal) then there’s much less reason to sit out

5 months ago

At the age of 25, the current schedule is perfect for Katie Ledecky:

2 x W 400 FR
2 x W 1500 FR
1 x W 4 x 200 FR-R
2 x W 800 FR

Avoid session doubles at all costs.

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
5 months ago

Agreed. Ledecky made the correct decision but McIntosh was too conservative. Many of us posted that last week.

5 months ago

IMO they would have come 3rd Ledecky & 4th McIntosh to Titmus 1st & Haughey if they would’ve swam this race at the WC.
If we are playing would haves & could haves.

Last edited 5 months ago by Robbos
Reply to  Robbos
5 months ago

What about Lia Thomas?

Reply to  SECjuicer
5 months ago

She got bodied at NCAA’s she’d still be watching from home.

Reply to  SECjuicer
5 months ago

ik this is a troll but do u really think she would’ve medaled lol

Reply to  Robbos
5 months ago

We talk about the athletes who are here not the ones who aren’t.

Reply to  Robbos
5 months ago

Titmus and Haughey aren’t here. That’s a fact!

Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
5 months ago

And Ledecky and McIntosh withdrew from the 200 free before the meet started. The’s a fact!

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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