For the first time in 11 years, Katie Ledecky lost a 400-meter freestyle race in a U.S. pool, with Canadian teenager Summer McIntosh taking the title at the U.S. Open on Thursday.

At just 17 years old, McIntosh is no stranger to the international swimming circuit. She even held the world record in the 400 free for three months – before Australia’s Ariarne Titmus took back the crown.

In July, McIntosh entered the world championship as the record holder but placed fourth in the event, while Titmus took the world title and the world record.

“After that race, I learned a lot about how to get back out after it,” McIntosh said Thursday. “I had so many races after that that I was really happy with. No matter how bad one race is, you really get back up and get back into it.”

At the U.S. Open final, she swam a time of 3:59.42, beating Ledecky by 2.96 seconds.

It’s the first time that Ledecky has lost the event in the United States since placing third at the 2012 Olympic trials at 15 years old.

The 2024 Olympics are looming, and McIntosh’s rise has made what seemed to be a two-person race between Titmus and Ledecky much more intriguing. Last March, McIntosh snapped Ledecky’s nine-year domestic win streak in the 200 free.

Ledecky remains undefeated in the United States in the 800 and 1500 free races, and she has been for 13 years.

Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus broke the women’s 400m freestyle world record — and defeated American rival Katie Ledecky and previous world record-holder Summer McIntosh of Canada — at the 2023 World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, on Sunday.

Titmus, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the event, led from 100 meters and ultimately clocked 3:55.38, cutting seven-hundredths off McIntosh’s world record and touching the wall more than three seconds ahead of Ledecky (3:58.73). New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather claimed bronze, while the 16-year-old McIntosh placed fourth.

Titmus, Ledecky, and McIntosh are the three fastest women to ever swim the 400m free and the event was billed as the ‘Race of the Century’ heading into this week’s world championships.

Ledecky owned the world record in the event from 2014 until last year, when Titmus claimed it for herself at Australian Championships. McIntosh then took it over at Canadian Trials in March.

“It wasn’t something (breaking the record) that I had my mind on for this meet,” Titmus told reporters in Japan. “I just wanted to come here and try and swim the way I know I’m capable of. I knew the only way to win — I believed — was to try to take it out (fast) and whoever had as much fight left at the end was going to win it.”

By taking silver, Ledecky claimed the 23rd world championship medal of her career, extending her mark as the most decorated female swimmer in world championship history.

“I think you could just see the world record coming. It’s been a very fast year of swimming and it was kind of predictable that it would be a really fast field,” Ledecky said. “I can’t really complain. My stroke feels good. I feel good in the water. I think all year my 800 has felt better than my 400, so I’m excited about the rest of my week.”

Katie Ledecky crushed the competition in the 800 freestyle at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials on Saturday.

Ledecky clocked a time of 8:14.62, finishing five seconds ahead of the field. Her win in the 800 free secured Ledecky her fourth individual Olympic event, qualifying in the 200, 400, and 1,500 as well.

Fifteen-year-old Katie Grimes also booked her ticket to Tokyo, finishing second in the 800 free behind Ledecky at 8:20.36. Grimes shared an emotional embrace with her parents before joining Ledecky in the post-race interview, where the veteran passed the baton to the young phenom, stating Grimes was “the now” of the sport.

Katie Ledecky making history. Let us know if you’ve heard that one before.

The Olympic champion kicked off her history-making double last night with the 200 freestyle. Her 1:55.11 was just off of her season-best 1:54.40 but was enough for her to make the Olympic team in the event.

The Olympic gold medalist in the event in 2012, Allison Schmitt, touched in second to make her fourth Olympics. With 2008 Olympic champion Federica Pellegrini also swimming the event in Tokyo, it marks the first time that an individual event will have the past three Olympic champions all competing against one another on the Olympic stage. 

Roughly 85 minutes later, Ledecky was back in the pool again to complete the grueling double. This time, making history as the first-ever Olympic Trials winner in the 1500 freestyle. She easily dominated the field, touching in at a time of 15:40.50 good for fastest in the world this year.

Despite Ledecky’s history-making performance, the women’s 200 IM might have been the most exciting race of the night. Three swimmers all finished within four hundredths of one another as Alex Walsh managed to get her hand on the wall first to earn a spot in Tokyo with a time of 2:09.30. It’s the closest Olympic Trials finish in history

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.

Had any doubts about Katie Ledecky’s dominance?

Well, doubt no longer. The 24-year old is doing what she normally does – beating her opponents by nearly as much as her age.

In a time of 15:40.55 on Sunday, Ledecky finished 26 seconds ahead of her opponent and once again solidified herself as the world’s best in the 1500m freestyle. The second-fastest time in the world this year? 15:57.03, posted by Simona Quadarella at Italian Olympic Trials. That’s still a full 17 seconds that separates the two. 

Sure, something freaky could happen come the Olympics. But that seems unlikely.

Ledecky’s 800 split would have won the individual event and would have been the world’s fastest this year as well. Her 400m freestyle earlier on in the meet, a 3:59.25, was the fastest time this early in the year ever. It’s also the fastest she’s been in that event in awhile. 

Her 200m freestyle tied the U.S. Open record and puts her at – you guessed it – first in the world. 

Long story short? Ledecky is doing what Ledecky does, and it appears as though she isn’t worried about slowing down either.

Katie Ledecky is back where she’s comfortable.

Day 2 of the 2021 Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo saw Olympic champion Ledecky tie the U.S. Open record in the 200m free in a time of 1:54.40 and take the No. 1 spot in the world rankings.

It’s Ledecky’s best time ever on U.S. soil and her second-best performance ever in the event. Her lifetime best 1:53.73 won her gold in the event at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Notably, Ledecky is faster than she was four years ago in the U.S. Olympic Trials when she swam a 1:54.88. One can only wonder what she’ll be capable of come Tokyo.