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The McIntoshes wanted their daughters to experience the kaleidoscope of sports. Brooke And summer Growing up in Toronto, she enjoyed horseback riding, gymnastics, and even skiing.

At age 7, the summer reduced it to figure skating and swimming, and an epiphany occurred after falling on the ice in a competition.

She still won. It confused her. Her parents explained how crippling performances differed from the race against the clock that exists in sports.

“The next day she stopped skating,” her father, GregSaid.

Summer McIntosh chose swimming because she wanted to achieve it.

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

“Swimming has always been my favorite because it’s so simple,” she said. “You go the fastest time, you win.”

Mackintosh went into the family business. mother Jill He swam at the 1984 Olympics and finished ninth in the consolation final of the 200m butterfly.

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

“I’ve been amazed at how much swimming has progressed since then,” McIntosh said.

“I remember her laughing in our swimsuits,” Jill said.

McIntosh had not finished his first swimming lessons. “By level seven of a 10-level program, it was suggested that she be accelerated into the more competitive group because she had such a natural feel for the water,” Jill said.

McIntosh turned 2 the next day Michael Phelps At the age of 12, he started taking swimming seriously, winning his eighth gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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

“We weren’t going to talk about them in the summer,” Jill remembered Kevin Thorburn tells her. “Because what you don’t want is a 12-year-old kid saying that they did it when she had more of a chance to go.”

In separate interviews, McIntosh’s parents said it was Thorburn, then coaching her at the Etobicoke Swim Club in Ontario, who first predicted the great things McIntosh would now achieve.

After McIntosh turned 13 in August 2019. Thorburn told her she could swim the 1500m freestyle fast enough to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games, which would make her the youngest Canadian Olympian in any sport in 44 years. She changed her training from the four strokes to focus on the tougher distance freestyle.

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

Thorburn was not there to see it. He passed away in April 2020 at the age of 63.

“His passing was quite a shock and a devastating summer,” Gregg said.

In January 2021, Greg was diagnosed with early-stage, treatable throat cancer (and is now in remission). Jill remembers that day being the only time McIntosh missed swimming practice.

The family decided he would live in a separate apartment from Jill, Brooke, an elite figure skater, and Summer, who was training for the Olympic Trials, to reduce the risk of any of them contracting Covid.

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

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

CBC offered swimmers’ families the opportunity to videotape to be part of an interview with the winners. While waiting to take her daughter home, Jill had to watch a stream run from the parking lot. So Greg, dealing with the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, rolled out of bed, showered and dialed for the first time in three days.

Mackintosh won. She earned an Olympic spot and spoke to Greg wishing him a happy Father’s Day.

The following month, McIntosh traveled outside the US and Canada for his first swim. It was to Tokyo for the Olympics. Sportsnet reported that before the Games, McIntosh told the rest of the Canadian swimmers during a team-building exercise that if she wanted a superpower, it would be to “never get old.”

In her first Olympic race, she broke the Canadian record in the 400m free heats, then lowered it again in the final to finish fourth. It was the best individual Olympic finish by any swimmer under the age of 25, according to Olympia.org.

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

The climb continued in her World Championship debut last June in Budapest. She won silver in the 400m free, 3.03 seconds faster than the Olympics. Katie Ledecky.

She followed that up by winning her mother’s event, the 200m fly, becoming the youngest individual world champion since 2011. There were no bright celebrations on 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 was the highlight of her career. Unlike the trials and Tokyo, her parents were there to see it.

“She was calm and collected the whole thing,” Gregg 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 final day of the eight-day meet, she won the 400m individual medley, becoming the best all-around swimmer in the world.

McIntosh had her braces off and then flew to Birmingham, England for the Commonwealth Games. They swept the 200m and 400m medley in world junior record times, making a total of six podiums. She flew home, decompressed at the family cottage near Lake Ontario 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 400m IM history and the fourth fastest woman in the 400m free. She does not set fixed times.

“Everything is different for everyone,” said McIntosh, who puts more emphasis on intermediate divisions within races. “If you have time and you don’t know how to get it, it’s hard to figure out what you want to do.”

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

From the outside, the 2024 Olympic race is on the first night: the 400m free, potentially against the last two Olympic champions in Ledecky and Australia. Ariarne Titmus, the two fastest women in history. A year and a half away, the 2004 Olympics men’s 200m featuring Australian legend Phelps has been compared to the “race of the century”. Ian Thorpe And Grant Hackett And the Dutch star Peter van den Hoogenband (acquired by Thorpe).

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“She wants to live up to what she thinks is her full potential, and that’s competing with the best,” Gregg said.

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

McIntosh and her mother rent a house less than a mile to an outdoor pool. McIntosh needs a driver for her 5 a.m. practice because her learner’s permit doesn’t allow her to legally get behind the wheel before sunrise. “I get up at 4:10 a.m. to take her to the pool for a minute and a half,” Jill laughs.

McIntosh fuels up with Banana Walnut Loaf Cake from Publix, does virtual school (and will graduate next year) and scans TikTok for home decor and interior design inspiration.

By the end of October she was confirmed to be in Ontario. 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 the World Cup meet in Toronto. The day after that, Brooke and her pairs partner finished fourth as the second-youngest team in the eight-team field at Skate Canada.

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

It’s been that way for years. It was another sport she played during elementary school, McIntosh said. She said 400 meters was the longest distance for children of that age.

“I wasn’t a great runner,” she said, “and if I hadn’t been a swimmer, I would have been a runner.”

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