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McIntosh kicks off Bell Canadian Swimming Trials with world record

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TORONTOSummer McIntosh wasted no time putting her stamp on the 2023 Bell Canadian Swimming Trials.

Entering the meet as a four-time junior world record holder, the 16-year-old phenom set her first senior world standard on opening night, clocking 3:56.08 in the women’s 400-m freestyle. That bettered the previous mark of 3:56.40 set last May by Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus of Australia.

It was the first long-course world record by a Canadian from the Olympic program since Kylie Masse in the 100 backstroke at the 2017 world championships in Budapest, and the first by a Canadian at Trials since Amanda Reason’s 50 breaststroke mark at the 2009 event in Montreal.

With the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre crowd on its feet from start to finish, McIntosh shaved off more than three seconds from her previous national mark of 3:59.32 set at last summer’s Commonwealth Games.

“Honestly, going into tonight, I didn’t think the world record was a possibility but you never know,” said McIntosh, who broke onto the international scene at Tokyo 2020 when she finished fourth in the 400 free in her Olympic debut as a 14-year old. “I’m so grateful for my coach and everyone that’s helped me along the way to get to where I am today.”

The Etobicoke Swim Club product recently relocated to Florida to train with the Sarasota Sharks under Brent Arckey.

“Whenever I get the chance to compete at one of my home pools, where I trained for two years, and to compete in Canada there’s always that extra little bit left in my races to finish and make them proud,” said McIntosh, who began breaking into tears as she prepared to talk about her family. “Thank you for everything, it means the world to me and I love you guys.

“Over the past few years I’ve put my life into this. To be the best I can be. To achieve something like this, it was very unexpected. It was never in my dreams to do this tonight or even a few years ago. This just blows my mind.”

McIntosh wasn’t the only teenager to qualify for the World Aquatics Championships in the women’s 400 free.

Ella Jansen, a 17-year-old from Burlington, Ont., who trains at the High Performance Centre-Ontario, qualified for her first worlds thanks to a time of 4:08.81. She represented Canada at the Commonwealth Games last August.

Earlier on Tuesday evening, there was an upset in the women’s 100 back with Ingrid Wilm of Calgary’s Cascade Swim Club posting a personal best 58.80. Kylie Masse of LaSalle, Ont., the Olympic and world championship silver medallist, finished second in 59.00.

An exuberant Wilm celebrated by hugging her coaches and climbing into the stands to exchange high-fives with her teammates. The 24-year-old narrowly missed the Olympic team two years ago but made her world championships debut last year.

“I actually, genuinely thought that Kylie was somebody else and I was about to get third for like the umpteenth time in a row and miss out on the team,” Wilm said. “I really, really wanted to prove that I earned a spot on the team this year. I’m so happy that I was able to finally do that.”

Masse, the former world record holder, had won the race at every Trials since 2016.

“Obviously it wasn’t my best,” said Masse, whose time still qualified her for the world championships team. “I would have liked to have been on top. I made the team and got the job done.

“I’ll get back to training, take a look at the video and talk to my coaches and just analyze my race and go from there.”

Wilm called Masse a role model.

“She’s genuinely one of the nicest souls and the most selfless people I’ve ever met,” she said. “She’s just such an incredible person that I could never say ‘I’m happy she got a second.’ If we tied, that would be perfect for me.”

In the men’s 100 back, Javier Acevedo of the High Performance Centre – Ontario won in 53.83 to qualify for worlds. It was the 25-year-old’s fastest 100 back since the 2017 Trials.

“It’s the first time in six years I’ve been under 54. It’s a lot of hard work, right? Being with the Centre provides so much resources for me and things that I haven’t been able to have consistently for a while, so it feels good,” said the two-time Olympian.

In the women’s 200 breaststroke, Tokyo 2020 teammates Sydney Pickrem and Kelsey Wog (Winnipeg / University of Manitoba) both met the required standard, touching in 2:24.63 and 2:25.26.

“Trials is always nerve-wracking and it’s nice in the first event, first day, to check that box off,” said Pickrem, who brought home bronze in the event from the 2019 worlds. “I would have liked to be a little bit better, but it’s the first time I’ve swam that race in a long time so I’m excited to get that back on my international agenda.”

In the men’s 200 breast, 18-year-old Brayden Taivassalo (Markham, Ont. / High Performance Centre – Ontario) made his first senior national team thanks to a time of 2:11.28, more than three seconds under his previous best set earlier this month.

“Last summer I was able to represent the country at Junior Pan Pacs, which absolutely created a great experience, great opportunity,” said Taivassalo. “But there’s a big difference between a senior team and a junior team. And to kind of see that progression is really good. It’s good to know that I’m on the right track and have the right people behind me.”

Paralympians Tess Routliffe (Caledon, Ont.) and James Leroux(Repentigny, Que.), both training at Montreal’s High Performance Centre – Quebec, won the 100 breast multiclass finals in 1:34.68 and 1:10.97, going under the qualifying times in the women’s SB7 and men’s SB9 categories.

Also meeting the required time on the women’s side were Tokyo 2020 teammates Abi Tripp (Kingston, Ont. / Centre de Natation Région de Québec) and Katarina Roxon (Kippens, N.L. / Aqua Aces Swim Club) in the SB7 and SB8 classes.

“Yeah, I’m happy,” said Routliffe, the reigning SB7 world champion. “I think we’re setting ourselves up to be in a good place. We have put a lot of work in. So we’re just kind of seeing the progress on that.  I’m excited to see what we’re able to do with it.”

In the women’s 50 breast multiclass, Nikita Ens (Meadow Lake, Sask. / Saskatoon Lasers Swim Club) and Aly Van Wyck-Smart (Toronto / Variety Village), who also represented Canada at Tokyo 2020, both swam well under the SB2 qualifying time, clocking 1:43.32 and 1:44.08.

Eric Brown of Montreal’s Pointe-Claire Swim Club won the men’s 400 free in 3:50.81, just missing the qualifying time for worlds.

The six-day Bell Canadian Swimming Trials run through Sunday at TPASC with preliminary heats at 9:30 a.m. each day and finals sessions set for 6 p.m.

A total of 623 athletes from 148 clubs across the country are in action competing for spots on this summer’s national teams. Teams will be selected for:

  • World Aquatics Championships July 14-30 in Fukuoka, Japan
  • World Para Swimming Championships July 31-Aug. 6 in Manchester, England
  • World Junior Swimming Championships Sept. 4-9 in Netanya, Israel
  • Pan American Games Oct. 23-Nov. 5 in Santiago, Chile

All sessions are being streamed live on CBC Sports digital platforms. Live streams can be watched via the free CBC Gem streaming service, at and the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android  devices.

For full meet information, including live results, visit: