Katie Ledecky’s nine-year domestic win streak snapped by Summer McIntosh
Summer McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian, snapped a Katie Ledecky winning streak of nine years on Friday.
McIntosh broke her own world junior record to top Ledecky in the 200m freestyle at a Pro Series swim meet in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
McIntosh clocked 1 minute, 54.13 seconds, lowering her world junior record of 1:54.79 from last year’s world championships. McIntosh became the ninth-fastest woman in history in the event.
“I’m really happy with that swim,” McIntosh, who defeated Ledecky by 83 hundredths, said on Peacock. “It hurt really bad.”
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Ledecky had won all of her domestic freestyle long course finals of 200 meters or longer after a January 2014 defeat to 2012 Olympic champion Allison Schmitt.
During that nine-year run, Ledecky did lose freestyle races outside of the U.S. (including at the Olympics and world championships) and in short-course (non-Olympic-sized) pools.
She also finished ninth in a 200m free at the December 2019 U.S. Open. But at that U.S. Open, she won her consolation final with a time that would have won the top eight-woman final, after she was ninth in the preliminary heats. So it arguably does not count as a defeat.
Overall, Ledecky was pleased with her performances Friday night.
Her 200m free time was the second-fastest of her career among meets for this early in a year.
Eighty minutes later, she won the 400m individual medley, an event she doesn’t swim at championship meets, in 4:36.04, the second-fastest time of her life. That time would have won last year’s world championships trials and placed fourth at worlds.
“I’m happy with that double,” she said. “I always joke that in the second half of my career, maybe I’ll do it [focus on the 400m IM].”
Ledecky has not announced publicly whether she hopes to race the 200m free at the 2024 Paris Olympics. She is expected to keep the 400m, 800m and 1500m frees.
She was fifth in her Olympic 200m free title defense in Tokyo and chose not to swim it at this past June’s world championships, instead prioritizing her longer races (and winning all of them).
But Ledecky did swim the 200m free at July’s national championships, posting a time that would have won the world title by 42 hundredths of a second. Granted, none of the Tokyo Olympic medalists were in the world championships final.
Last spring, Ledecky said that if the 200m free and 1500m free don’t overlap on the 2024 Olympic schedule — the finals were in the same session in Tokyo — she would be more enticed to re-add the 200m free to her program. Later, the Olympic schedule was released with the 200m and 1500m finals separated by two days.
She has not publicly commented on her long-term 200m free plan in recent months, but she has plenty of time to deliberate. The U.S. trials for July’s worlds are the last week of June.
At last June’s world championships, Ledecky and McIntosh were the top female swimmers.
Ledecky swept her four races — 400m, 800m and 1500m frees, plus the 4x200m free relay. McIntosh won the 200m fly and 400m individual medley, both in world junior record times, and placed second to Ledecky in the 400m free.
They later met at three more meets in late 2022.
In October, McIntosh edged Ledecky in a 400m free in a Toronto short-course pool (25 meters, rather than Olympic-size 50-meter pools) by eight hundredths of a second.
In November, Ledecky returned the favor, breaking the 800m free short-course world record in Indianapolis and defeating McIntosh by 10.3 seconds. They also met in a 200m free, with Ledecky placing second and McIntosh fifth.
In December, they returned to an Olympic-size pool at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, North Carolina. Ledecky won the 400m free by eight hundredths over McIntosh to extend a decade-long win streak in freestyle races of 400 meters or longer in U.S. pools.
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