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Canada’s McIntosh kicks off Toronto World Cup with second fastest 400 free in history

TORONTO – The second leg of the 2022 FINA Swimming World Cup series kicked off with a bang Friday evening at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre thanks to a sensational performance by hometown phenom Summer McIntosh in the first final of the three-day international competition.

FULL RESULTS: https://www.omegatiming.com/2022/fina-swimming-world-cup-toronto–live-results

Facing American superstar Katie Ledecky in a much-anticipated women’s 400-metre freestyle showdown, McIntosh triumphed in three minutes, 52.80 seconds to break her own Canadian short-course record. The new world junior and World Cup record is the second fastest time in history, trailing only the brand new world standard of 3:51.30 set 24 hours earlier by China’s Li Bingjie at the Chinese Swimming Championships in Beijing.

Both McIntosh’s time and Ledecky’s 3:52.88 were faster than the previous world mark of 3:53.92 set in 2018 by reigning Olympic champion Ariarne Timus of Australia.

Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong, China, who won the event last weekend at the first leg of the World Cup series in Berlin, finished third in 3:58.50.

“I’m a little bit in shock right now,” said McIntosh, who placed second behind Ledecky in the 400 free at last June’s FINA World Championships in Budapest. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to do tonight. I was really happy with my morning swim. I’m really happy with that and would never imagine I’d get that time.”

The 16-year-old was all smiles when asked about the support from the home crowd.

“There’s nothing like it; the energy from the crowd and knowing that all these people are cheering us all on. I’ve never had a meet like this in my hometown. I live like 30 minutes away from here and all my friends and family are in the stands. To do it in front of my friends and family and other Canadians in the stands means the world.”

A seven-time Olympic gold medallist, including the 400 free title at Rio 2016, Ledecky led Friday evening’s final for the first 11 laps before McIntosh took over with 125 metres remaining. The American regained the advantage with two laps to go but the Canadian swam the last 25 in 13.91 seconds – compared to 14.22 for her rival – to touch the wall first.

“I didn’t know what to expect from this meet. I don’t really have a good sense of what good short course times are for me right now. So, I’m just trying to not put limits on myself and just go for it,” Ledecky said. “There’s great competition and events right now and it pushes me every day and I know I need to get better.”

Canadian swimmers provided another highlight for the home crowd in the women’s 50 backstroke final with a sweep of the podium courtesy of Olympians Maggie Mac Neil of London, Ont. (25.96) and Kylie Masse of LaSalle, Ont. (26.02) as well as Ingrid Wilm of Calgary (26.18).

Masse and Wilm had placed 1-2 in the event last week in Berlin, while Mac Neil is making her 2022 World Cup debut in Toronto.

“The crowd was great. It’s kind of weird to have a meet here that’s this big because I’m used to just training here. But it’s definitely been exciting,” said Mac Neil, who set the short-course world record of 25.27 last December at the 2021 FINA World Championships (25m) in Abu Dhabi. “It’s incredible (to have three Canadians on the podium). It shows how strong Canadian backstroke is, especially in short course. That was definitely on display tonight.”

“It feels amazing. Not many people get to experience this in a home pool, in a pool that I get to train in all the time,” added Masse. “To have family in the stands and to see so many familiar… It’s really special to be here and to see everyone proud and support the Canadians and the rest of the world as well.”

In other Day 1 finals, a number of swimmers resumed their recent domination of the FINA World Cup circuit.

South Africa’s Matthew Sates, the 2021 World Cup men’s overall champion and the 2022 leader after Berlin, won the 400 free for the second straight week with a time of 3:37.52.

“I train hard and this is what I like to do. This is my job. So, every race I give it everything I got,” said the Tokyo Olympian. “The first race of the meet I’m always nervous because you don’t know how it’s going to go so I’m happy to get the win.”

In the men’s 100 breaststroke, Nic Fink of the United States clocked 56.39 to add to his wins in all three breast events last weekend in Germany.

“I thought I would get faster as this goes on and technically (I did),” said the reigning world short-course champion in the 50 and 200 breast. “That was nice, happy to be here racing, especially with the traveling, short rest and everything, even going with the same time I’m definitely happy.”

Dylan Carter took the men’s 50 free in 20.91. The two-time Olympian from Trinidad and Tobago won the 50 free, back and butterfly in Berlin.

“Yeah definitely have some momentum,” Carter said. “Was hoping to be a little quicker tonight. But it’s been a tough week with the travel back here. Just happy to get the job done.”

Other athletes to win their event for the second week in a row included American Shaine Casas in the men’s 200 back (1:48.99), South Africa’s Chad le Clos in the men’s 100 fly (48.88), Poland’s Katarzyna Wasick in the women’s 50 free (23.27) and France’s Beryl Gastaldello in the women’s 100 individual medley (57.97).

Casas was the only double winner on the night as he also prevailed in the men’s 100 IM (51.03).

Americans Pash Kelly, in the women’s 200 fly (2:03.61), and Lilly King, in the women’s 200 breast (2:18.43), were the other Day 1 winners.

Other Top 3 performances by Canadians on Friday included second-place finishes by Mac Neil in the women’s 50 free (23.74), Javier Acevedo of Toronto in the men’s 200 back (1:50.76) and Sydney Pickrem in the women’s 200 breast (2:19.71), as well as third positions from Kelsey Wog of Winnipeg in the women’s 200 breast (2:20.59) and Katerine Savard of Pont-Rouge, Que., in the women’s 200 fly (2:06.62).

The 2022 FINA Swimming World Cup continues Saturday and Sunday at the TPASC with preliminaries starting at 9:30 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m.

Tickets for the event can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

All sessions will be streamed live on CBC Sports digital platforms, with commentary for the heats from former national team swimmers Callum Ng and Sarah Mailhot. Tokyo 2020 Olympic commentator Rob Snoek will join Olympic medallist Brittany MacLean to call the finals. Live streams can be watched via the free CBC Gem streaming service, at cbcsports.ca and the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices.

The series will conclude with a third three-day leg in Indianapolis from Nov. 3-5.

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