Summer McIntosh chose swimming and became Canada’s big splash


The McIntoshes wanted their daughters to experience a kaleidoscope of sports. Brooke and Summer grew up in Toronto and did horseback riding, gymnastics, even skiing.

By age 7, Summer narrowed it to figure skating and swimming and had an epiphany after falling on the ice in a competition.

She still won. It perplexed her. Her parents explained how judged sports, where flawed performances can prevail, differed from racing against a clock.

“She stopped skating the next day,” her father, Greg, said.

Summer McIntosh chose swimming because she wanted to earn it.

She made her Olympic debut at age 14 in Tokyo, then last June won two gold medals at the world championships, part of a global group of 2000s babies taking over the sport.

McIntosh and Katie Ledecky were the only women to win multiple individual gold medals in Olympic events at 2022 Worlds. They are appear headed for a showdown in one event at the 2024 Paris Games.

“Swimming was always my favorite because it’s very simple,” McIntosh said. “You go the fastest time, and you win.”

Turns out, she went into the family business. Mom Jill swam at the 1984 Olympics and won the consolation final of the 200m butterfly for ninth place overall.

Three decades later, they watched it together on the family computer.

“I remember being amazed about how far swimming’s progressed since then,” McIntosh said.

“I remember her giggling at our swimsuits,” Jill said.

McIntosh actually never finished her first learn-to-swim lessons. By level seven of a 10-level program, it was suggested she be accelerated into a more competitive group “because she had a very natural feel for the water,” Jill said.

McIntosh, who turned 2 years old the day after Michael Phelps won his eighth gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said she began to take swimming seriously by age 12.

In a scene reminiscent of Phelps, McIntosh’s coach pulled Jill aside as she began breaking national age group records.

“We’re not really going to talk about them with Summer,” Jill remembered Kevin Thorburn telling her. “Because what you don’t want is a 12-year-old thinking they’ve made it when she has a lot more potential to go.”

In separate interviews, McIntosh’s parents said that it was Thorburn, then coaching her at Etobicoke Swim Club in Ontario, who first predicted the kinds of big things that McIntosh is now achieving.

Like after McIntosh turned 13 years old in August 2019. Thorburn told her that she could swim the 1500m freestyle fast enough to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games, which would make her the youngest Canadian Olympian across all sports in 44 years. They altered their training from all four strokes to focus on the grueling distance freestyle.

The Olympic postponement to 2021 gave McIntosh an extra year to qualify. She did so in three individual events and a relay.

Thorburn was not there to see it. He died in April 2020 at age 63.

“His passing was an absolute shock and was devastating to Summer,” Greg said.

In January 2021, Greg was diagnosed with early-stage and treatable throat cancer (and is now recovered). Jill remembers that day as probably the only time that McIntosh has missed a swim practice.

The family decided that he would live in a separate apartment from Jill, Brooke, by then an elite figure skater, and Summer, who was training for the Olympic Trials, in part to lessen the risk that any of them caught COVID.

“She just used swimming as a positive thing in her life at that point, and it was truly a blessing,” Jill said.

On June 20, 2021, Jill dropped her younger daughter off at the Toronto Pan Am Sport Centre for the Olympic Trials 200m freestyle final. COVID restrictions meant no spectators.

CBC had offered the swimmers’ families the opportunity to video in to be part of interviews with winners. Jill had to watch the race on a stream from the parking lot while waiting to drive her daughter home. So Greg, dealing with side effects from radiation and chemotherapy, unfurled from his bed, showered for the first time in three days and dialed in, just in case.

McIntosh won. She clinched an Olympic spot and spoke virtually with Greg, wishing him happy Father’s Day.

The next month, McIntosh traveled outside of the U.S. and Canada for swimming for the first time. It was to Tokyo for the Olympics. Sportsnet reported that, before the Games, McIntosh told the rest of the Canadian swimmers in a team-building exercise that if she could wish for a super power, it “would be to never age.”

In her first Olympic race, she broke the Canadian record in the 400m free heats, then lowered it again in the final to place fourth. It was the best individual Olympic finish for any swimmer that young in 25 years, according to

“I didn’t really have any expectations,” she said. “For me to even make the Olympic team was, like, a really big deal for me and one of my main goals.”

The ascent continued at her world championships debut last June in Budapest. In the 400m free, she went 3.03 seconds faster than at the Olympics to earn silver behind Ledecky.

She followed that by winning her mom’s event, the 200m fly, to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. There was no splashy celebration in the water. “I think I’m a little bit in shock right now,” she said moments later in a pool-deck interview. Months later, she said it’s the highlight of her career. Unlike trials and Tokyo, her parents were there to see it.

“She was calm and collected about the whole thing,” Greg said. “She made a very good point that she had more races to go, so she didn’t want to get too high.”

On the last day of the eight-day meet, she won the 400m individual medley, which crowns the world’s best all-around swimmer.

McIntosh got her braces off, then flew to Birmingham, England, for the Commonwealth Games. She swept the 200m and 400m medleys in world junior record times and made six podiums total. She flew home, decompressed at the family cottage along an Ontario lake with 11 friends and celebrated her 16th birthday.

The medals rest in a box that looks like a chair in the family basement in Toronto. McIntosh is now the third-fastest woman in history in the 400m IM and fourth-fastest in the 400m free. She doesn’t set specific goal times.

“Everything’s different for everyone,” said McIntosh, who puts greater emphasis on intermediate splits within races. “If you have a time and you don’t know how to get to that, it’s harder to gauge what you want to do.”

She doesn’t have a favorite event. “It’s like asking a parent who’s their favorite child,” she said.

From the outside, the most anticipated 2024 Olympic race is on the first night: the 400m free, potentially against the last two Olympic champions in Ledecky and Australian Ariarne Titmus, the two fastest women in history. A year and a half away, it has already been compared to the “Race of the Century,” the 2004 Olympic men’s 200m free that included Phelps, Australian legends Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett and Dutch star Pieter van den Hoogenband (won by Thorpe).

“She wants to live up to what she thinks is her full potential, which is compete with the best,” Greg said.

That in mind, McIntosh relocated last year from Toronto to Sarasota, Florida (a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky in Gainesville), where she previously had a training block when COVID got bad in Ontario. The Sarasota Sharks have more swimmers closer to McIntosh’s age who share her events, Jill said.

McIntosh and her mom rent a home less than a mile to the outdoor pool. McIntosh needs a driver for 5 a.m. practices since her learner’s permit does not allow her to legally get behind the wheel before sunrise. “I get up at 4:10 a.m. to drive her a minute and a half to the pool,” Jill laughed.

McIntosh fuels with banana walnut loaf cake from Publix, does virtual school (set to graduate next year) and scans TikTok for home decor and interior design inspiration.

She made sure to be in Ontario in late October. She sat at an ice rink in Mississauga, watching older sister Brooke practice for the biggest international figure skating competition of her young senior career. The next day, McIntosh beat Ledecky for the first time at a World Cup meet in Toronto. The day after that, Brooke and her pairs’ partner finished fourth as the second-youngest team in an eight-team field at Skate Canada.

McIntosh is in the middle of heavy training, so she will watch Brooke compete at this week’s Canadian Championships via live stream from Florida. Those close to her praise her work ethic. Penny Oleksiak, the co-2016 Olympic 100m freestyle champion, has labeled her “all gas and no brakes.”

It’s been that way for years. McIntosh said that another sport she dabbled in during elementary school was running. She did the 400m because she said it was the farthest distance for kids at that age.

“I wasn’t the best runner,” she said, “but if I wasn’t a swimmer, I’d be a runner.”

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Iga Swiatek sweeps into French Open final, where she faces a surprise


Iga Swiatek marched into the French Open final without dropping a set in six matches. All that stands between her and a third Roland Garros title is an unseeded foe.

Swiatek, the top-ranked Pole, swept 14th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 6-2, 7-6 (7) in Thursday’s semifinal in her toughest test all tournament. Haddad Maia squandered three break points at 4-all in the second set.

Swiatek dropped just 23 games thus far, matching her total en route to her first French Open final in 2020 (which she won for her first WTA Tour title of any kind). After her semifinal, she signed a courtside camera with the hashtag #stepbystep.

“For sure I feel like I’m a better player,” than in 2020, she said. “Mentally, tactically, physically, just having the experience, everything. So, yeah, my whole life basically.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

In Saturday’s final, Swiatek gets 43rd-ranked Czech Karolina Muchova, who upset No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus to reach her first major final.

Muchova, a 26-year-old into the second week of the French Open for the first time, became the first player to take a set off the powerful Belarusian this tournament, then rallied from down 5-2 in the third set to prevail 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 7-5.

Sabalenka, who overcame previous erratic serving to win the Australian Open in January, had back-to-back double faults in her last service game.

“Lost my rhythm,” she said. “I wasn’t there.”

Muchova broke up what many expected would be a Sabalenka-Swiatek final, which would have been the first No. 1 vs. No. 2 match at the French Open since Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova in the 2013 final.

Muchova is unseeded, but was considered dangerous going into the tournament.

In 2021, she beat then-No. 1 Ash Barty to make the Australian Open semifinals, then reached a career-high ranking of 19. She dropped out of the top 200 last year while struggling through injuries.

“Some doctors told me maybe you’ll not do sport anymore,” Muchova said. “It’s up and downs in life all the time. Now I’m enjoying that I’m on the upper part now.”

Muchova has won all five of her matches against players ranked in the top three. She also beat Swiatek in their lone head-to-head, but that was back in 2019 when both players were unaccomplished young pros. They have since practiced together many times.

“I really like her game, honestly,” Swiatek said. “I really respect her, and she’s I feel like a player who can do anything. She has great touch. She can also speed up the game. She plays with that kind of freedom in her movements. And she has a great technique. So I watched her matches, and I feel like I know her game pretty well.”

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Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone’s defining race; Paris Diamond League TV, live stream info

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, what happens in her first outdoor race of 2023 on Friday could dictate the rest of her season. It may impact her 2024 Olympic plans, too.

McLaughlin-Levrone strays from the 400m hurdles — where she is the reigning Olympic and world champion and four times broke the world record — to race her first flat 400m in two years at a Diamond League meet in Paris.

Peacock streams it live from 3-5 p.m. ET. CNBC airs coverage Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.

What we know is this: On Friday, McLaughlin-Levrone will race against the Olympic and world silver medalist in the 400m (Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic) and the 2019 World champion (Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain).

Next month, McLaughlin-Levrone will race the flat 400m at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, the qualifying meet for August’s world championships. She is racing that flat 400m at USATF Outdoors at least in part because she already has a bye into the 400m hurdles at worlds as defending champion.

What we don’t know: which race McLaughlin-Levrone will enter at worlds. Her coach, Bobby Kersee, said last month that she will choose between the 400m and 400m hurdles for worlds, should she finish top three in the 400m at USATF Outdoors to qualify in that second event. She will not try a 400m-400m hurdles double at worlds.

McLaughlin-Levrone was asked Thursday which event she would pick if given the choice.

“Is it bad to say I don’t know?” she said in a press conference. “Honestly, ask me after tomorrow. I don’t know. I’ve got to run this one first and see how it feels.”

McLaughlin-Levrone also doesn’t know what she will try to race at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Next year, the 400m-400m hurdles double is more feasible given one could do both events without ever racing more than once per day.

“We’re still focused on 2023,” McLaughlin-Levrone said. “One step at a time, literally. Obviously that’s something as the season comes to an end we’ll kind of start to look and figure out what our plan is for next year.”

Here are the Paris entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

12:57 p.m. ET — Women’s Shot Put
1:35 — Women’s High Jump
2:15 — Women’s Discus
2:20 — Women’s Pole Vault
3:04 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
3:15 — Women’s 800m
3:19 — Men’s Long Jump
3:24 — Women’s 5000m
3:42 — Women’s Javelin
3:52 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
4:02 — Women’s 400m
4:12 — Men’s 100m
4:22 — Women’s 200m
4:32 — Men’s 3000m Steeplechase
4:51 — Men’s 800m

Here are six events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 2:20 p.m. ET
Olympic and world champion Katie Moon won the first two Diamond League meets and again faces some of her biggest domestic and international challengers in Paris. That includes fellow American Sandi Morris, who won the first three Diamond League meets last year, then took silver behind Moon at worlds on count back. Plus 34-year-old Slovenian Tina Sutej, who ranks second in the world this season.

Women’s 5000m — 3:24 p.m. ET
Includes the world record holders at 1500m (Kenyan Faith Kipyegon in her first 5000m since 2015), 3000m steeplechase (Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech) and the 5000m and 10,000m (Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey). Plus new American 10,000m record holder Alicia Monson, who is third on the U.S. all-time 5000m list at 14:31.11. Shelby Houlihan has the American record of 14:23.92.

Men’s 110m Hurdles — 3:52 p.m. ET
The three members of the U.S. Olympic team in Tokyo — Grant HollowayDevon Allen and Daniel Roberts — could face off for the first time in nearly a year. Holloway, who has a bye into worlds as defending champion, overcame a rare defeat in the Diamond League opener in Rabat to win his last two races. He is the fastest man in the world this year at 13.01 seconds. Allen isn’t far behind at 13.12, while Roberts has yet to race the hurdles this outdoor season.

Women’s 400m — 4:02 p.m. ET
Could very well determine the favorite for worlds. Reigning Olympic and world champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas is on maternity leave. Paulino is the only other woman to break 49 seconds since the start of the pandemic, and she’s done it each of the last two years. Naser is the only other active woman to have broken 49 seconds, doing so in winning the 2019 World title (before she was banned for two years, through the Tokyo Olympics, for missing drug tests). McLaughlin-Levrone’s personal best from 2018 is 50.07 seconds, but she was just 18 years old then and focusing on the hurdles. Still, that time would have won the 2022 U.S. title. Last month, University of Arkansas junior Britton Wilson ran the fastest time by an American since 2009 — 49.13 — but she might bypass the flat 400m to focus on the hurdles this summer.

Men’s 100m — 4:12 p.m. ET
Could be a meeting between the reigning Olympic men’s 100m champion (Marcell Jacobs of Italy) and world men’s 200m champion (American Noah Lyles), which hasn’t happened since the 2009 World Championships 100m final, where Usain Bolt lowered the world record to 9.58 seconds and American Tyson Gay was second in a then-American record 9.71. Later in that meet, Bolt won his first world 200m title, a crown he held concurrently with his Olympic 100m titles through his 2017 retirement. But Jacobs, citing nerve pain, scratched out of the last two Diamond League meets, which were to be showdowns with world 100m champion Fred Kerley. Jacobs did show up for Thursday’s press conference. Lyles has a bye onto the world team in the 200m, but also wants to make the four-man U.S. team in the 100m. He ranks fifth among Americans by best time this season — 9.95.

Men’s 800m — 4:51 p.m. ET
The top five from the world championships are entered, led by Olympic and world champion Emmanuel Korir of Kenya. This event was in an international doldrums for much of the time since Kenyan David Rudisha repeated as Olympic champion in 2016, then faded away from competition. But the emergence of 18-year-old Kenyan Emmanuel Wanyonyi has injected excitement this season. Wanyonyi is the world’s fastest man this year. The second-fastest, Kenyan Wycliffe Kinyamal, is also in this field.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported the TV window for the meet broadcast. The CNBC broadcast begins at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, not 3.

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