Summer McIntosh swims freestyle strokeSwimming Canada/Ian MacNicol
Swimming Canada/Ian MacNicol

Summer McIntosh swims to 200m freestyle bronze at World Aquatics Championships

What a way to celebrate one year to go to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Summer McIntosh swam to the bronze medal in the women’s 200m freestyle on Wednesday at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

Though she was in second place at the midway mark of the race, by the time they turned for the final leg, the 16-year-old Canadian found herself in a battle with Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong for the last spot on the podium. But over the last 25 metres, McIntosh was clearly superior as she pushed past to touch the wall in third place, 0.31 ahead of Haughey. McIntosh’s time of 1:53.65 is a world junior record and Canadian record.

“It’s always nice to get on the podium again at my second world championships,’’ said McIntosh, who now has five career medals at the long course worlds. ‘’Overall, I was really happy with that race and the 200 free has always been a really fun race to go head-to-head. It was super close, so just learning from that and I’ll learn from my splits and things to work on moving forward.’’

Australian Ariarne Titmus — who reclaimed the 400m freestyle world record from McIntosh on Sunday — led the race almost from start to finish. She was knocked off the top step of the podium in the 200m freestyle by her teammate Mollie O’Callaghan, who blazed through the final 50 metres to set a world record time of 1:52.85. That broke the longest-standing women’s world record in swimming, which had been set by Italian Federica Pellegrini at the 2009 World Championships during the so-called “super suit” era. Titmus finished in 1:53.01.

The bronze medal comes a few days after McIntosh just missed the podium in the 400m freestyle. She had opened the worlds with a fourth-place finish. In that race, she had been almost four seconds slower than her personal best, the former world record mark she set at the Canadian Trials in late March. McIntosh put whatever doubts there were behind her to deliver her best performance ever in the 200m freestyle. She did not race the event at the 2022 World Aquatics Championships where she won four medals.

“I think there’s always things to learn and I think you learn the most when you have off races like that in the 400 free,’’ McIntosh said. ‘’I learned a lot about how I swam it, where I went wrong and also about my preparation before and where I can improve. It just gives me a lot of motivation and inspires me to push harder and even more heading into next year for Paris.’’

  • Summer McIntosh applauds while wearing a bronze medal on the podium
  • Summer McIntosh and two Australian swimmers show of their medals on the podium

This is Canada’s second swimming medal of the week in Fukukoka. On Monday, Maggie Mac Neil won silver in the women’s 100m butterfly.

READ: Maggie Mac Neil swims to 100 fly silver at World Aquatics Championships

Just an hour after her podium performance, McIntosh was third-fastest in the semifinals of the 200m butterfly in which she is the defending world champion. That final will take place on Thursday.

In the final of the men’s 200m butterfly on Wednesday, there was a great swim by another Canadian teenage phenom as Ilya Kharun finished in a tie for fourth. The 18-year-old’s time of 1:53.82 broke the national record he had set the day prior in the semifinals by close to half a second.

Canada was also in the final of the mixed 4x100m medley relay. The quartet of Kylie Masse (backstroke), James Dergousoff (breaststroke), Maggie Mac Neil (butterfly), and Ruslan Gaziev (freestyle) finished sixth. Masse and Ingrid Wilm both booked their spots in the final of the women’s 50m backstroke for Thursday. Masse is the defending world champion. On Tuesday, they placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the final of the 100m backstroke.