FUKUOKA, Japan –
This was the dominant performance Summer McIntosh was looking for at this year’s World Aquatics Championships.
The 16-year-old from Toronto defended her world title in the women’s 200-metre butterfly in spectacular fashion on Thursday. McIntosh led the race at every split and set world junior, Canadian and Americas records with her time of two minutes 4.06 seconds.
McIntosh is only the second Canadian to repeat as world champion, joining Kylie Masse. McIntosh and Masse are also the only Canadians with three career gold medals at the long-course world championships.
“Going into the final I was really pumped up for it as I got gold last time here at worlds,” McIntosh said. “That was a really special moment for me, so to repeat it again that meant the world. I’m just really overly happy with the result.”
Australia’s Elizabeth Dekkers (2:05.46) and American Regan Smith (2:06.58) rounded out the podium.
After starting the world championships with a disappointing result, by her standards at least, McIntosh is rounding into elite form in Fukuoka.
The Canadian finished off just off the podium in her first race, the 400m freestyle on Sunday, while Australian star Ariarne Titmus won gold and broke McIntosh’s world record.
McIntosh rebounded Wednesday with bronze in her world championship debut in the 200 freestyle, a good result in a fast race that featured a world-record swim from Australian Mollie O’Callaghan.
On Thursday, she was fully in the form that saw her win four medals in her world championships debut last year in Budapest, Hungary. She will look to channel that momentum when she attempts to defend her 400m individual medley title on Sunday.
McIntosh got a hug from her parents over the railing as she did her victory lap with the gold medal.
“It was really nice to see them,” said McIntosh. `’I hadn’t seen them in a while with being away for so long with staging camp and things like that.
“To share that moment with them plus my sister cheering me on back home in addition to all my friends and family, really means the world to have their support.”
Also Thursday, Masse, of LaSalle, Ont., finished fourth in the 50m backstroke in 27.28. Australia’s Kaylee McKeown won gold (27.08) ahead of Smith (27.11) and Britain’s Lauren Cox (27.20).
Calgary’s Ingrid Wilm (27.41) finished sixth.
Australia set a world record in the women’s 4×200 freestyle relay in 7:37.50. The Americans followed in 7:41.38 and China was third in 7:44.40.
Canada was fifth in 7:49.98 with Mary-Sophie Harvey of Trois-Rivieres, Que., McIntosh, Emma O’Croinin of Edmonton and Brooklyn Douthwright of Riverview, N.B.
The medallists qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, while the remaining 13 spots will be decided by ranking Fukuoka times against the times from the Doha 2024 worlds.
McIntosh said she was well prepared to swim two finals on the same night.
“Obviously it’s tough but I’ve done it before at last worlds and it worked out pretty well,” she said. `’I just kind of have to trust my training on that back end of the 200 free and recover as much as possible in between those two events.”
In the women’s 200 breaststroke semifinal, Kelsey Wog of Winnipeg qualified eighth for Friday’s final in a time 2:24.16.
“There’s definitely a few things that I know I can fix,” said Wog. `’It didn’t go quite as I wanted to in that race, but it’s a season’s best this year. It’s been a tough year so I can’t complain about that.”
Hugh McNeill of Langley, B.C., was 15th overall in the men’s 200 backstroke semi in 1:58.86.
Brayden Taivassalo of Newmarket, Ont., was 30th in the men’s 200 breaststroke prelims in 2:13.81.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2023.