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Summer McIntosh returns to competition after world record-breaking performances at national trials

A month after breaking two world records and another five world junior records at the national swim trials, Canadian phenom Summer McIntosh was back in race mode contesting at the Atlanta Classic this weekend. 

But unlike the trials at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre at the end of March and beginning of April where she stunned the swimming world with her remarkable performances, the focus shifted a little during this weekend’s event — it was about getting in meaningful race reps in events she doesn’t normally compete in but are a part of the medleys. 

McIntosh’s head coach Brent Arckey explains they wanted to hone in on the breast and backstrokes this weekend to improve her individual medleys — McIntosh broke Katinka Hosszú’s seven-year world record in the 400-metre IM on April 1.

“She took a couple of days to take a deep breath, which was obviously much needed after all of that,” Arckey said. 

“We went back to work and we’ve been working really hard. There are some little things we’ve been working on and we want to see how those are looking in a race situation. But really we’re looking for race reps before we go back to a big block of work leading into the world championship.”

McIntosh had a busy program throughout the weekend meet in Atlanta that started on Friday night. She started with the 100m breaststroke, posting a time of 1:10.77, which was just behind her personal best time in the event of 1:10.39.

On the same night she then competed in the 100m fly, concluding second in a time of 57.86 — that is a personal best time in the event for McIntosh. 

“The best part about Summer is that she’s good at so many things. And because the individual medley is such a focal point right now, we’re working on all different aspects,” Arckey said.

“She’s pretty darn good in the off events. So for us it’s continuing to develop the breast stroke and keep making some headway in certain lengths of the individual medley.”

The Canadian teenager continues to train in Sarasota, Fla., with the Sharks club. 

“She loves to train and loves to race. And she’s just having fun doing all of this. I’m just happy we can provide the environment for her to do it,” Arckey said.

With the clock ticking down to the world championships in Fukuoka, Japan this July, it’s expected McIntosh will compete in the 200m and 400m individual medleys, the 200m and 400m free events and the 200m fly.

It’s a heavy schedule and will be extremely demanding, especially with the potential of McIntosh also competing in the relays.

Arckey says that’s part of why she competed in the 50m free, then 100m back and then immediately in the 200m breast on Saturday night in Atlanta, because it’s a tough back-to-back double and valuable for training. 

McIntosh finished fourth in the 50m free in a time of 25.78, which is her fastest time ever. She followed up that with her first victory of the meet in the 100m back with a time of 1:00.25, also a personal best time. 

It was then back into the pool for a third event of the evening for the 16-year-old, who finished second in the 200m breast in a time of 2:29.64.

American legend Katie Ledecky was also competing at the event, and posted one of the fastest in-season swims of her career, stopping the clock in a time of 3:58.84 in the 400m free. Ledecky once held the world record in the event.

McIntosh holds the record now having broken Ariarne Titmus’s time at trials about a month ago, stopping the clock in 3:56.08.

McIntosh is the first swimmer in history to hold both the 400m freestyle and 400m individual medley long course world records at the same time.

Arckey says right now it’s all about building on what McIntosh did at trials. 

“When you come back from a good meet, one of the most important things is taking what was really good from that and keep doing that, and then let’s find a couple things we can do better,” Arckey said. 

“This is ever-evolving, especially for a teenager. We’ll just keep trying new things and stick to the ones we know that work. Every single time we get on the blocks there are things we’re looking for.”

McIntosh closed out the competition Sunday in Atlanta with a triumph in the 200m backstroke, cruising to the wall in a time of 2:07.34. It was just off her personal best time of 2:07.15 and five seconds clear of the second-place finisher.

At this point Arckey says he’s not sure if McIntosh will be competing in any more meets before worlds in July. 

McIntosh will be joining 29 other Canadians heading to the world championships beginning in late-July in Fukuoka, Japan. 

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