Summer McIntosh ends Katie Ledecky’s win streak in 800m freestyle
Canadian Summer McIntosh became the first swimmer to defeat Katie Ledecky in an 800m freestyle final since 2010, winning at the Southern Zone South Sectional Championships meet in Orlando on Thursday.
McIntosh, a 17-year-old world champion, clocked 8 minutes, 11.39 seconds, according to Meet Mobile, to become the second-fastest woman in history in the 800m free (6.6 seconds off Ledecky’s world record).
Ledecky was second in 8:17.12 in her trademark event, which she first won at the Olympics at age 15 in 2012.
Ledecky came into Thursday on a 50-plus-meet win streak in the event with the top 29 times in history (if also including 800-meter splits in 1500m free races)
McIntosh, who grew up putting Ledecky quotes on her Ontario bedroom wall, broke that up, recording the 17th-best time in history.
What this means for the Olympics is unclear given swimmers train to peak not in February but for major summer meets. It’s also unknown whether McIntosh will swim the 800m free in Paris.
Ledecky swam 8:07.07 at last June’s U.S. Championships, her best time in seven years, and 8:08.87 to win a record sixth consecutive world title in the event last July.
Ledecky is expected to bid for a fourth consecutive 800m free gold medal in Paris, should she make the team at June’s Olympic Trials. She can become the first female swimmer to win the same Olympic event four times.
Before Thursday, Ledecky’s last defeat in an 800m free came when she was 13 years old: to a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old at the 2010 Potomac Valley Championships in Maryland.
McIntosh is the world record holder in the 400m IM and now the second-fastest woman in history in the 400m free and the 800m free. She is also fourth fastest in history in the 200m fly and the 200m IM and fifth fastest in the 200m free.
The 400m IM, 400m free and 200m fly have been her primary events. She swept the 400m IM and 200m fly golds at the world championships in 2022 and 2023.
At the Paris Olympics, the 800m free and the 200m IM finals are in the same session. At worlds, where they are not in the same session, McIntosh swam neither the 800m free nor the 200m IM in 2022 and 2023.