It was an incredibly fast night in Toronto with the first two races producing both a world record and a world junior record, back-to-back.

It couldn’t have started better as USA’s Katie Ledecky set her very first short course meters world record in the 1500m freestyle with a 15:08.24, completely wiping away the old record of Germany’s Sarah Wellbrock, who swam a 15:18.01 in 2019.

“I didn’t have it as a set goal (to break the World Record),” Ledecky said. “I really didn’t know what to expect coming out of this meet, being my first meet of the season, taking most of August off, getting back into training rhythm, didn’t have any type of super preparation for this meet, just wanted to come in and race international swimmers being a meet in North American soil.

Ledecky also nearly broke the 800m freestyle world record on the way out, held by Spain’s Mireia Belmonte at 7:59.34, as the American broke the national record with an 8:00.58. The 800m freestyle will be offered as an event next weekend in Indianapolis where she will aim to be the third woman ever under 8:00. 

“I knew that record was in reach just based on some things I’ve done in training especially my distance stuff has felt really good this fall.

"Walked into a pace and fell off a little bit towards the end probably. My stroke count was 16, pretty steady through maybe the 900, 1000, and jumped up to 17, 18 and I got a little worried, but I held it together to get the job done.”

That swim immediately followed Canada’s Summer McIntosh, who trained every day in this pool leading up to this summer’s FINA World Championships, as she set a new world junior record in the 400m IM at 4:21.49.

McIntosh had pushed Mireia Belmonte’s 4:18.94 world record for 200 meters before falling off on the breaststroke leg, but good enough to be recognized as the fastest junior swimmer in the event. It was a perfect start for the Canadians as Sydney Pickrem (4:28.45) and Bailey Andison (4:29.36) finished second and third to the delight of the Toronto crowd. 

It was amazing to have the support of the many Canadians in the stands, and I want to say thanks for their support,” McIntosh said. “I didn’t know what time to expect, I just wanted to swim a good race.

“Coming off a great summer in the 400m IM I wanted to see what I can do for all four sets. I’m really happy with my race. I have to check my splits, I don’t know where that puts me, but throughout the race I felt in control and strong so I’m really happy.”

The Race For the Overall World Cup Title Begins to Heat Up

There were a few other near-world records that happened on Saturday night, as Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong, China won the 200m freestyle with a 1:51.13, taking out the first 100 meters under her own world record pace. Haughey’s time was among the ten fastest times ever swum in the event as she repeated her 200m freestyle win from Berlin as she goes for the hat trick next week in Indianapolis. 

“I’m definitely not as fresh as I was in Berlin so the fact that I was able to drop my times in my 200, that’s a positive sign,” Haughey said.

“I’m definitely learning a lot and I think it’s also helpful to watch my race videos from Berlin and see what I can work on. So between my races, I'm focusing on those, seeing what I can work on, instead of focusing on how tired I am. I think it helped.”

USA’s Shaine Casas gave the men’s 200m IM world record a scare as he swam the third fastest time in history with a 1:50.37, getting closer to Ryan Lochte’s 1:49.63 than anyone has in nearly eight full years. This is a new World Cup Record.

I really just wanted to swim fast, The records really don’t matter as much to me.
By Shain Casas (USA)

Casas’ efforts launched him past Matthew Sates in the World Cup rankings to sit second behind Dylan Carter, who won the 50m backstroke for his fifth win on the circuit at 22.94.

Carter currently has 109.2 points, while Casas is right behind with 106.8 and Sates is third with 106.1. With one more day left and three next week in Indianapolis, it could come down to the wire between these three.

The women’s overall rankings are currently led by American Beata Nelson, who won the 100m backstroke on Saturday with a 55.75 ahead of Canada’s Kylie Masse (56.16) as she holds a slim lead of 0.6 points over Siobhan Haughey.

“It’s really about racing,” Nelson said. “I’m swimming against some of the fastest swimmers in the world.  I just wanted to get my hand on the wall first.

“I am happy about it. It’s about competing and racing. I’m trying to do the best that I can and rack up some points, it’s good to be back in North America, just to do the time zone here, I never really did when I was in Germany so I’m getting good recovery and nights of sleep so I’m enjoying that until I can, first time in Canada, it’s been great.”

Canada was also able to cheer on one of its favourite swimmers in Maggie Mac Neil, who is only racing in the Toronto stop of the FINA Swimming World Cup series this year, as the Tokyo Olympic champion won the 50m butterfly with a 24.75. She will head back to school as she is in graduate school at Louisiana State University in the United States where she trains with long-time coach Rick Bishop.

“Swimming at home and getting to see my family (is special),” Mac Neil said. “Having a big meet like this (here) brings a lot of publicity to Canada and brings so many major athletes to this great city.”

Other Olympic champions celebrated wins on the weekend as Australia’s Kyle Chalmers won his best event - the 100m freestyle - with a 45.52 as he will go for a third straight win in that event next week in Indianapolis. 

Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte also took down the last two Olympic champions in the 100m breaststroke with a 1:02.95, beating Americans Lilly King (1:03.23) and Lydia Jacoby (1:04.62), winners of the Rio and Tokyo Games, respectively, to the wall.

The London champion inched closer to the world record held by Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson.

Americans Nic Fink (50m breaststroke) and Trenton Julian (200m butterfly) also collected wins on Saturday with Fink winning perhaps his best event at 25.78 while Julian won his best event at 1:49.69 over Chad Le Clos (1:49.78).