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.”

MORE: Full Results

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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Football takes significant step in Olympic push

Flag Football
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Football took another step toward possible Olympic inclusion with the IOC executive board proposing that the sport’s international federation — the IFAF — be granted full IOC recognition at a meeting in October.

IOC recognition does not equate to eventual Olympic inclusion, but it is a necessary early marker if a sport is to join the Olympics down the line. The IOC gave the IFAF provisional recognition in 2013.

Specific measures are required for IOC recognition, including having an anti-doping policy compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency and having 50 affiliated national federations from at least three continents. The IFAF has 74 national federations over five continents with almost 4.8 million registered athletes, according to the IOC.

The NFL has helped lead the push for flag football to be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games. Flag football had medal events for men and women at last year’s World Games, a multi-sport competition including Olympic and non-Olympic sports, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Football is one of nine sports that have been reported to be in the running to be proposed by LA 2028 to the IOC to be added for the 2028 Games only. LA 2028 has not announced which, if any sports, it plans to propose.

Under rules instituted before the Tokyo Games, Olympic hosts have successfully proposed to the IOC adding sports solely for their edition of the Games.

For Tokyo, baseball-softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were added. For Paris, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were approved again, and breaking will make its Olympic debut. Those sports were added four years out from the Games.

For 2028, the other sports reportedly in the running for proposal are baseball and softball, breaking, cricket, karate, kickboxing, lacrosse, motorsports and squash.

All of the other eight sports reportedly in the running for 2028 proposal already have a federation with full IOC recognition (if one counts the international motorcycle racing federation for motorsports).

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Helen Maroulis stars in wrestling documentary, with help from Chris Pratt

Helen Maroulis, Chris Pratt

One of the remarkable recent Olympic comeback stories is the subject of a film that will be shown nationwide in theaters for one day only on Thursday.

“Helen | Believe” is a documentary about Helen Maroulis, the first U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling champion. It is produced by Religion of Sports, the venture founded by Gotham Chopra, Michael Strahan and Tom Brady. Showing details are here.

After taking gold at the 2016 Rio Games, Maroulis briefly retired in 2019 during a two-year stretch in which she dealt with concussions and post-traumatic stress disorder. The film focuses on that period and her successful bid to return and qualify for the Tokyo Games, where she took bronze.

In a poignant moment in the film, Maroulis described her “rock bottom” — being hospitalized for suicidal ideations.

In an interview, Maroulis said she was first approached about the project in 2018, the same year she had her first life-changing concussion that January. A wrestling partner’s mother was connected to director Dylan Mulick.

Maroulis agreed to the film in part to help spread mental health awareness in sports. Later, she cried while watching the 2020 HBO film, “The Weight of Gold,” on the mental health challenges that other Olympians faced, because it resonated with her so much.

“When you’re going through something, it sometimes gives you an anchor of hope to know that someone’s been through it before, and they’ve overcome it,” she said.

Maroulis’ comeback story hit a crossroads at the Olympic trials in April 2021, where the winner of a best-of-three finals series in each weight class made Team USA.

Maroulis won the opening match against Jenna Burkert, but then lost the second match. Statistically, a wrestler who loses the second match in a best-of-three series usually loses the third. But Maroulis pinned Burkert just 22 seconds into the rubber match to clinch the Olympic spot.

Shen then revealed that she tore an MCL two weeks earlier.

“They told me I would have to be in a brace for six weeks,” she said then. “I said, ‘I don’t have that. I have two and a half.’”

Maroulis said she later asked the director what would have happened if she didn’t make the team for Tokyo. She was told the film still have been done.

“He had mentioned this isn’t about a sports story or sports comeback story,” Maroulis said. “This is about a human story. And we’re using wrestling as the vehicle to tell this story of overcoming and healing and rediscovering oneself.”

Maroulis said she was told that, during filming, the project was pitched to the production company of actor Chris Pratt, who wrestled in high school in Washington. Pratt signed on as a producer.

“Wrestling has made an impact on his life, and so he wants to support these kinds of stories,” said Maroulis, who appeared at last month’s Santa Barbara Film Festival with Pratt.

Pratt said he knew about Maroulis before learning about the film, which he said “needed a little help to get it over the finish line,” according to a public relations company promoting the film.

The film also highlights the rest of the six-woman U.S. Olympic wrestling team in Tokyo. Four of the six won a medal, including Tamyra Mensah-Stock‘s gold.

“I was excited to be part of, not just (Maroulis’) incredible story, but also helping to further advance wrestling and, in particular, female wrestling,” Pratt said, according to responses provided by the PR company from submitted questions. “To me, the most compelling part of Helen’s story is the example of what life looks like after a person wins a gold medal. The inevitable comedown, the trauma around her injuries, the PTSD, the drive to continue that is what makes her who she is.”

Maroulis, who now trains in Arizona, hopes to qualify for this year’s world championships and next year’s Olympics.

“I try to treat every Games as my last,” she said. “Now I’m leaning toward being done [after 2024], but never say never.”

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