World Record of the Year (Female): Summer McIntosh Overcomes Katinka Hosszu Mark in 400 IM

Summer Mcintosh of Canada competes in the 400m Individual Medley Women Final during the 20th World Aquatics Championships at the Marine Messe Hall A in Fukuoka (Japan), July 30th, 2023. Summer Mcintosh placed first winning the gold medal.
Summer McIntosh -- Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

World Record of the Year (Female): Summer McIntosh Overcomes Hosszu Mark in 400 IM

The world record in the women’s 400 IM was considered one of the toughest in the books since Katinka Hosszu blasted the time of 4:26.36 on the way to gold at the Rio Olympics. That night, Hosszu knocked more than two seconds off the previous record set by Ye Shiwen, and no other woman had ever broken 4:30 since full-body polyurethane suits were banned at the end of 2009. Even Hosszu herself would never approach that form again, breaking 4:30 only one more time in her career (in 2017).

Enter Summer McIntosh. When McIntosh made her Olympic debut at age 14, she was considered primarily a freestyler, and she topped out at fourth place in the 400 free after swimming in medal position for most of the race. But McIntosh quickly showed talent in butterfly and individual medley as well, joining the 4:29 club in early 2022 before winning a world title in the event later that year.

McIntosh improved her best time to 4:29.01 at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and then to 4:28.61 at the U.S. Open in early December, making her the third-fastest performer in history. But a substantial gap still existed before she would reach the world record. Or so it seemed.

At the Canadian Swimming Trials four months later, McIntosh reached world-record form for the first time. A blistering opening stretch helped her knock off Ariarne Titmus’ global mark in the 400 free, with McIntosh swimming a time of 3:56.06. After setting world junior marks in the 200 IM and 200 fly, she was ready to go after Hosszu’s record in the 400 IM.

McIntosh utilized her butterfly strength to full effect, going out in 59.47 to move almost one-and-a-half seconds clear of Hosszu’s pace. A 1:06.92 backstroke split put her exactly two seconds ahead entering breaststroke, McIntosh’s weakest stroke, but she did enough to turn for the final 100 meters only eight tenths off Hosszu’s pace. And then, McIntosh showed the speed of a 200 and 400 freestyler, splitting 1:00.56 to pull herself back in front of the world-record line.

The 16-year-old clocked 4:25.87, about a half-second clear of Hosszu’s time. She became the first woman in almost four years to break two individual world records at one meet. And while McIntosh had serious international competition in the 400 free with the likes of Titmus and Katie Ledecky, her medley world record was (and still is) a whopping six seconds clear of any international rival’s personal-best mark.

A few months later, McIntosh would have a rough start to her World Championships as she surrendered her 400 free world record back to Titmus while missing the podium entirely, but she quickly bounced back by winning bronze in the 200 free, gold in the 200 fly and gold in the 400 IM, with a time of 4:27.33 that only she and Hosszu had ever surpassed. Now 17, McIntosh is on track to be one of the stars of the Paris Games, and few swimmers will be stronger favorites for Olympic gold than McIntosh in the 400 IM.

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bryan Retzloff
Bryan Retzloff
5 months ago


Would love your thoughts, please comment.x