There are moments when time stands still. Moments where you find yourself on the verge of greatness. Moments that stand the test of time. The Edge is a series of conversations where extraordinary people tell intimate stories of one moment that changed everything for them. A world record, a world championship, an epiphany, a life-changing decision. They relive their moments, minute by minute. How they overcame pressure, fear, pain and pushed themselves to the limit. To The Edge.
Our guest today is Summer McIntosh, a four-time World Aquatics champion, a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist, and the current world record holder in the women’s 400 metre individual medley. The best part? She’s only 17 years old. Dubbed a ‘teen swimming sensation’, Summer burst onto the scene as the youngest member of the Canadian team for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Since then she has bagged a ton of medals and smashed several records. Summer tells us how she’s preparing for the 2024 Olympics, what it feels like to be a record breaker, and where she gets her confidence from.
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On winning her fourth gold medal
To win that fourth gold medal was a really surreal moment. It feels like I just won my first one back in 2022. To have that moment again with my family in the stands and knowing that all my friends and family have been cheering me on since I started swimming, it was a really nice moment to share. And if I told my seven year old self that this is where I’d be today, I’d just be so happy with what I’ve been able to achieve this far.
On what attracted her to swimming
When I was younger, I tried out so many sports, but I think I was so drawn to swimming because it was a very simple sport, and it all comes down to whoever has the fastest time. When I was around ten years old, I was doing both figure skating and swimming and that’s when I decided that I didn’t want to be in a sport where it was left up to someone else to decide, a judge sport, like figure skating. So that’s kind of how I decided to do swimming.
On how she deals with the pressure
I think for me, I’ve known since a very young age that pressure is just a part of sport. And it’s not just in sports, it’s in many other aspects in someone’s life. And rather than looking at it as pressure, I try to look at it as support from either my friends, my family or my acquaintances or people that follow me on Instagram, just things like that. I think that’s quite inspiring to think that people are following along with me on my journey. For me personally, I really do enjoy those high intense moments right before you get on the blocks before a race, you just get so much adrenaline and it kind of leads you through that first part of the race. And I just try to have as much fun with it as possible.
Preparing for the 2024 Olympics
As of right now, I’m just kind of getting back into this season. I’ve been in the water for about a month now and I’m just trying to get better each day and each practice and really trying to focus on all the smaller things that can shave off even just milliseconds off my time: whether that’s technique changes in each stroke or turns and things like that. So it’s all those small little details that you wouldn’t think would change that much. But in the end game, if you have seven turns in a 400 race, that can take off lots of time.