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The Mackintosh family wanted their daughters to experience a diverse landscape of sports. brook And summer He grew up in Toronto and did horseback riding, gymnastics, and even skiing.

At the age of seven, Summer narrowed it down to figure skating and swimming and had an epiphany after falling onto the ice in competition.

She still wins. He baffled her. Her parents explained how judged sports, where flawed performances can prevail, differ from racing against the clock.

“I stopped skiing the next day,” her father said. GregHe said.

Summer McIntosh chose swimming because she wanted to earn it.

She made her Olympic debut at age 14 in Tokyo and then, last June, won two gold medals at the World Championships, is part of a global group of kids in the 2000s taking on the sport.

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

Turns out Macintosh got into the family business. Mother generation She swam at the 1984 Olympics and finished ninth in the consolation final in the 200-meter butterfly.

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

“I remember being amazed at how much swimming had progressed since then,” McIntosh said.

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

Mackintosh had not actually completed her first swimming lessons. At level seven of a 10-level program, it was suggested that she be accelerated into a more competitive group “because she has a very natural sense of water,” said Jill.

McIntosh, who turned two the next day Michael Phelps She won her eighth gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and said she began taking swimming seriously at the age of twelve.

In a scene reminiscent of Phelps, Jill is pulled aside by Mackintosh’s coach as she begins to break national age group records.

“We wouldn’t really talk about them with Summer,” Jill recalled. Kevin Thorburn he tells her. “Because what you don’t want is a 12-year-old thinking she’s made it when she has so much potential to go.”

In separate interviews, Mackintosh’s parents said it was Thorburn, then coached at Etobicoke Swimming Club in Ontario, who first foresaw the kinds of big things Mackintosh was now achieving.

Like after McIntosh turned 13 in August 2019. Thorburn told her she could swim the 1,500-meter freestyle fast enough to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games, making her the youngest Canadian Olympian in all sports in 44 years. They changed their training from all four strokes to focus on the uphill freestyle distance.

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The postponement of the Olympics until 2021 gave Macintosh an extra year to qualify. She did it in three individual and relay events.

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

“His death was an absolute shock and a devastating summer,” Gregg said.

In January 2021, Greg is diagnosed with early-stage, treatable throat cancer (he is now in a cure). Jill probably remembers that day as the only time Mackintosh missed swimming practice.

The family decided that he would live in a separate apartment from Jill, Brock, who was then an elite figure skater, and Summer, who was training for the Olympic trials, in part to reduce the risk of any of them contracting the coronavirus.

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

On June 20, 2021, Jill landed her youngest daughter at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Center Olympic Trials 200-meter freestyle. COVID restrictions mean no spectators.

CBC offered the swimmers’ families the opportunity to videotape to be a part of interviews with the winners. Jill had to watch the race through the stream from the parking lot while waiting to drive her daughter home. So Greg, who has dealt with the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, rolled out of bed, took a shower for the first time in three days and called, just in case.

Macintosh won. She scores an Olympic spot and roughly chats with Greg, wishing him a Happy Father’s Day.

The following month, Mackintosh traveled outside the United States and Canada to swim for the first time. He was to Tokyo for the Olympics. Sportsnet reported that prior to the Games, McIntosh told the rest of the Canadian swimmers in a team-building exercise that if she wanted to get super strong, she’d “never grow old.”

In her first Olympic race, she broke the Canadian record in the 400-meter freestyle, then lowered it again in the final to finish fourth. It was the best individual Olympic result of any young swimmer in 25 years, according to Olympedia.org.

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“I really didn’t 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 climb continued into her World Championships debut this past June in Budapest. In the 400-meter freestyle, she ran 3.03 seconds faster than at the Olympics to win the silver medal Katie Ledecky.

She followed that up by winning her parent’s event, the 200-meter fly, becoming the youngest individual world champion since 2011. There was no great celebration in the water. “I think I’m a little bummed right now,” she said moments later in a deck interview. Months later, she said it was the highlight of her career. Unlike the Trials and Tokyo, her parents were there to see her.

“She was so calm and pleasant about the whole thing,” Gregg said. “She made a very good point that she has more races to run so she doesn’t want to go too high.”

On the final day of the eight-day meet, she wins the 400-meter individual medley, which crowns the world’s best swimmer.

McIntosh took off her duets, then traveled to Birmingham, England, for the Commonwealth Games. She swept the 200m and 400m medals in junior world record times and achieved six podiums in total. She came home, decompressed at the family cabin along Lake Ontario with 11 friends and celebrated her 16th birthday.

The medals are placed in a box that looks like a chair in the family’s vault in Toronto. McIntosh is now the third fastest woman in history in the 400m IM and fourth fastest woman in the 400m freestyle. No specific target times have been set.

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

She does not have a favorite event. “It’s like asking a parent what their favorite child is,” she said.

On the outside, the most anticipated Olympic race of 2024 is on the first night: the 400-meter freestyle, potentially pitting against the last two Olympic champions Ledecky and Australia. Ariarn Titmus, the two fastest women in history. A year and a half later, it was already being compared to the ‘Race of the Century’, the men’s 200m freestyle at the 2004 Olympics which featured Phelps, an Australian legends Ian Thorpe And Grant Hackett And the Dutch star Peter van den Hoogenband (won by Thorpe).

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“She wants to live up to what she believes is her full potential, which competes with the best,” said Greig.

With that in mind, McIntosh moved last year from Toronto to Sarasota, Florida (a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky in Gainesville), where she previously had a practice block when COVID got bad in Ontario. Gill said the Sarasota Sharks have swimmers closer to Mackintosh’s age who share her juveniles.

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

McIntosh is working on a banana-walnut loaf from Publix, doing a virtual school (he’s due to graduate next year) and scanning TikTok for home decor and interior design inspiration.

I made sure to be in Ontario in late October. Sitting at an ice rink in Mississauga, she watches older sister Brooke train for the biggest international figure skating competition of her young career. The next day, McIntosh beat Ledecky for the first time in a World Cup meet in Toronto. The next day, Brooke and her partner placed fourth as the second youngest in an eight-team field at Skate Canada.

Macintosh is in the middle of an intense workout, so you’ll be watching Brooke compete in this week’s Canadian Championships via live stream from Florida. Those close to her praise her work ethic. Benny Oleksiakthe 100-meter freestyle Olympic champion participating in 2016, described it as “all gas and no brakes”.

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

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

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