Summer McIntosh sets world record in 400m freestyle at Canadian swimming trials
16-year-old phenom tops Ariarne Titmus' previous world mark with a time of 3:56.08
Summer McIntosh is now the world record holder in the 400-metre freestyle event.
The 16-year-old phenom electrified the hometown crowd with another memorable performance on Tuesday night at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre on opening night of the national trials.
With her parents, Jill and Greg McIntosh in the crowd, Summer stopped the clock in a time of 3:56.08, breaking the world record held by Ariarne Titmus of Australia.
It's her first world record — she holds many world junior and national records.
McIntosh was overrun with emotion after the race as she looked up at her parents cheering in the stands.
WATCH | How Summer McIntosh's world record swim looked from poolside:
The normally composed and reserved teen broke down in tears.
"I'm not a crier," she told CBC Sports after the race.
WATCH | McIntosh sets women's 400m freestyle world record:
McIntosh fought back tears as she described the moment.
"Over the past few years I've put my life into this. To be the best I can be. To achieve something like this, it was very unexpected. It was never in my dreams to do this tonight or even a few years ago. This just blows my mind."
A rare show of emotion from the normally stoic Summer McIntosh. <br><br>She just told me “I’m not a crier but this world record. I didn’t think this was possible tonight.” <br><br>I have goosebumps. The 16-year-old swimming sensation just took down the 400m freestyle world record. <a href="https://t.co/5F79O1I7JM">pic.twitter.com/5F79O1I7JM</a>—@Devin_Heroux
Summer's head coach Brent Arckey, who travelled from Sarasota, Fla., for the event was equally emotional after the swim.
"I'm not really sure what to say right now. I'm trying to hold it all in. But celebrating her. This is a special thing," he said.
"I've seen her do some really special stuff in practice. I'm just super proud of her. She's one of the best racers I've ever seen."
Mother Jill's valuable experience
Jill, who competed in swimming at the 1984 Olympics for Canada, has valuable experience to lean on to help guide her daughter.
She was bursting with pride as she watched Summer touch the wall on Tuesday night at trials.
"I'm so proud of Summer and the person she is, foremost. I just hope she's happy with her races here this week," Jill said.
"She loves this facility. It's all learning at this point heading into the worlds this summer and the Paris Olympics. This is a stepping stone."
Greg talked about how nice it is to be able to drive to the pool to watch his daughter — something that doesn't happen all that often these days.
"I know she's training in Florida but she will always be Canadian and we are so proud of her," he said.
Arckey says each meet from here until the Paris 2024 Olympics is a chance to tinker with things and ultimately get better.
"I don't fully understand what she means to Canada because I'm not Canadian. I don't live here, but I've got a pretty good idea of what she means to the country," Arckey said.
"The world championships this summer is the first big test. And we're going to try to do right by Canada."
Head coach Brent Arckey meets Summer McIntosh after this extraordinary performance. <br><br>Arckey, with tears in his eyes, just told me this is his first World Record as a coach. <br><br>Sensational scenes at the pool. <a href="https://t.co/CKNWccV4Dz">pic.twitter.com/CKNWccV4Dz</a>—@Devin_Heroux
Summer's meteoric rise doesn't seem to be slowing down. Her intensity is realized through an unmistakable stoicism despite what's happening behind her focused face.
Thriving in, out of the pool
McIntosh is thriving, both in swimming and in life, and is loving being in Florida with her club team.
At the place they call the Shark Tank, home of the Sarasota Sharks club, there are three outdoor 25m pools. All 29 lanes spread across the three pools are constantly churned up by legs and arms creating a cacophony of splashing.
For as intense and focused as Summer is each training session, she's also having fun. With a group of swimmers her age with the same goals and dreams as her in the pool, the teen from Canada says she's right where she wants to be.
"There's a bunch of girls and guys down here that I've started to get really close to and get to know really well, and they're also going to be travelling on the world stage and that's really exciting for them and I'm very proud of all of them and what they've accomplished so far," Summer said.
"Together as a group, we've really grown and continued to improve our swimming, which is obviously the main goal, but also having fun while doing so."
'You have to have fun'
It's something Jill feels is important.
She doesn't want her daughter to be so singularly focused on swimming that she forgets to be a kid sometimes.
"I think as parents Greg and I want to make sure the kids are having fun. You have to have fun. No matter how old you are, have fun through your whole career," Jill said.
"And you have to celebrate the steps along the way."
The proud McIntosh parents. <br><br>Jill and Greg just got back from watching Brooke McIntosh compete at figure skating worlds <br><br>Now they’re here to cheer on Summer at swimming trials. What a family. <a href="https://t.co/zJXAtpsvWh">pic.twitter.com/zJXAtpsvWh</a>—@Devin_Heroux
In between swimming sessions in Florida, Summer squeezes in school and strength and conditioning sessions.
About ten minutes away from the Shark Tank, Summer works out at the Positive Sports Lab with director Jason Riley. He's trained NFL and MLB players as well as Olympic gold medallists.
Inside the space there is top-of-the-line equipment at every turn.
Summer can easily do three sets of pushups with a 20-kilogram weight on her back before picking up a medicine ball.
"Doing that is not something you see every day from someone her age. She does not mess around. She's extremely dedicated to her craft and has the mindset you see in a lot of world-class athletes," Riley says.
"Summer is a special athlete. She has god-given talent and this unique work ethic and discipline. The sky's the limit for her."
What becomes evident very quickly is how much the team around Summer is doing everything it can to make sure she stays in a healthy mental and physical mindset.
She has the experience of her mom's career to lean on. She has a coach in Arckey who unequivocally respects what Summer's trying to achieve.
"I have such amazing people surrounding me with family, friends and all the coaches, and I'm so grateful for that and I honestly could not be having any more fun than this," Summer says.
Other notable results
Eric Brown, 20, of Pointe-Claire, Que., had the unenviable task of following up McIntosh's stunning performance, swimming to gold in the men's 400m free finals with a time of 3:50.81.
Also taking home a gold medal in the men's competition was James Leroux in the 100m breaststroke (Para) with a time of 1:10.97.
First-place finishers in the women's events were Niki Ens in the 50m breaststroke (Para) with a time of 1:43.32, and Tess Routliffe clocking in at 1:34.68 in the 100m breaststroke.
WATCH | Day 1 finals of the Canadian Swimming Trials:
With files from CBC Sports