Summer McIntosh poses with her medalSwimming Canada/Ian MacNicol
Swimming Canada/Ian MacNicol

Summer McIntosh crowned world champion in the 400m medley for second consecutive year

The order was big, and Summer McIntosh delivered the goods, stepping onto the podium twice on Sunday in the final session of the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

First, McIntosh won her second world title when she won gold in the women’s 400m medley, before contributing to the women’s 4×100m medley relay, joining efforts with Kylie Masse, Sophie Angus and Maggie MacNeil to get her hands on the bronze medal.

In the 400m medley, world record holder McIntosh took the lead from the opening meters in butterfly style. The next 100m, backstroke, allowed her to further increase her lead so that after 200m she had a one-second lead over her nearest challenger, 17-year-old American Katie Grimes. The breaststroke, the segment of the medley that usually poses the biggest challenge for McIntosh, gave her more of an edge this time around as the battle for silver and bronze seemed close between Grimes and Australian Jenna Forrester, who made a strong comeback during the third 100m.

The Canadian was unstoppable in the last 100m in the freestyle, forcing an insurmountable distance between herself and her opponents to finish the race in 4:27.11, a competition record. Grimes took the silver in 4:31.41 and Forrester secured bronze in 4:32.30.

McIntosh successfully defended the title of world champion of the event in which she had won at the Worlds 2022, when she had then covered the distance in 4:32.04. She set the world record for the event at the Canadian Trials last April with a time of 4:25.87.

This is the second world championship title that McIntosh has successfully defended at these championships. She also won a second straight world title in the 200m butterfly on Thursday. She kicked off her medal haul in Fukuoka by winning bronze in the 200m freestyle, days after finishing fourth in the 400m freestyle.

Aiming to add to her collection yet again, McIntosh was back in the pool less than an hour after the 400m medley final to take part in the event that concluded the competition, the women’s 4x100m medley relay swims. The Canadian quartet of Kylie Masse (backstroke), Sophie Angus (breaststroke), Maggie Mac Neil (butterfly) and McIntosh (freestyle) finished third in 3:54.12, finishing behind the Americans who were gold medalists in 3:52.08, and the Australians who finished second in 3:53.37.

The Canadians showed they were serious candidates for the podium from the start of the race, with Masse touching the wall third after the first 100m and Sophie Angus maintaining that rank before handing over to Maggie Mac Neil, a silver medalist in the 100m butterfly at these championships.

Mac Neil had a better 100m than Australian butterfly swimmer Emma McKeon, and allowed Summer McIntosh, Canada’s last torchbearer, to start second. Australian Mollie O’Callaghan, winner of the 100m freestyle gold medal earlier this week, however, managed to edge out McIntosh.

This medal in the women’s 4×100m medley relay gives Canada an Olympic qualification for this event in Paris 2024.

McIntosh now has eight career long course world championship medals. She is the only Canadian swimmer in history to win four gold medals at Worlds. The teenager achieved this impressive feat in just two editions of the worlds.

The relay bronze medal is Kylie Masse’s ninth career Worlds medal, tying her with Penny Oleksiak as Canada’s most medal-winning swimmer of all time at the World Aquatics Championships.

In the men’s 4x100m medley relay, the Canadian team of Javier Acevedo, James Dergousoff, Joshua Liendo and Ruslan Gaziev finished seventh in the final. The Canadian swimming team concludes the World Aquatics Championships with six medals.

In addition to McIntosh’s three individual medals and the women’s 4x100m medley relay medal, Canada also has silver medals in the 100m butterfly won by Maggie Mac Neil in the women’s event and Joshua Liendo on the men’s side.