It’s hard to imagine anyone being more dominant than Katie Ledecky.
But 14-year old Summer McIntosh might just be laying the groundwork. The young Canadian has firmly entrenched herself into the international conversation after dropping an astounding 4:05.13 in the 400-meter freestyle on Thursday evening.
The time places her second on the all-time list for Canadian women and takes eight seconds off of the old National Age Group record of 4:13.51 that was set by Taylor Ruck, now a double Olympic bronze medalist, in 2015.
It also marks a 10-second improvement from the best time that McIntosh set a mere three weeks ago, where she swam a 4:15.43. At that meet, McIntosh also set new Canadian National Age Group Records in the 200 free (1:57.65), 800 free (8:35.30) and 1500 free (16:15.19).
Additionally, those times saw her earn a FINA “A” cut in the 1500 free and put her name amongst the fastest Canadians ever in all three events.
But what makes last night’s performance so astounding is that, while there are no reliable all-time global rankings for 14 year olds available, it’s likely that her swim is the fastest ever by someone her age.
According to FINA databases, the fastest time by a 14 year old in the last decade was a 4:06.83, swum by China’s Liu Zixuan at the 2014 Chinese National Championships. There are reports of a 4:05.75 done by Chinese 13-year old Xu Danlu at the 2012 Asian Swimming Championships, though the result doesn’t appear in FINA’s database.
The fastest Ledecky ever was in the event at the age of 14 was 4:09.30. Ledecky was just past her 15th birthday when she placed third at Olympic Trials in the 400 with a time of 4:05.00.
For further comparison: Ledecky swam an 8:30.14 in the 800 free in February 2012 at the age of 14 before unloading an 8:14.63 at the 2012 Olympics at the age of 15, stunning the world as she took home gold. While McIntosh’s 8:35.30 is a bit slower than Ledecky’s at that age, her improvements in other events suggest McIntosh could be in for a big drops in the event in the coming months, much like Ledecky.
McIntosh is slated to swim the 800 freestyle Friday night, which will be a further indicator of just how good the 14-year old is — and has the potential to be.