Teenage Canadian swim star Summer McIntosh said Friday she is feeling no pressure ahead of the world championships despite sky-high expectations that she can take the event by storm.
The 16-year-old broke world records in the 400m freestyle and 400m individual medley earlier this year and has been tipped to confirm her status as one of the sport’s brightest lights in the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka.
Her campaign begins in the 400 freestyle on Sunday in a blockbuster battle against Australian Olympic gold-medallist Ariarne Titmus and American defending champion Katie Ledecky.
Titmus suggested last month that McIntosh could crumble under the pressure, but the Canadian said external noise was “irrelevant” as she prepares for the championships.
“I don’t really feel outside pressure -- I try not to focus on it,” she said.
“Obviously, it’s there, but at the end of the day, all I can do is try my hardest and train as hard as I can to be the best I can.”
McIntosh clocked 3min, 56.08sec to beat Titmus’ 400 freestyle world record at the Canadian trials in March.
She followed that up by breaking the 400 IM world record just days later, coming home in 4min, 25.87sec.
She is also set to compete individually in the 200m butterfly and 200m freestyle in Fukuoka, and said “nothing’s really changed” since she broke the world records.
“Obviously, it’s a huge accomplishment and I’m very proud that I was able to do that,” she said.
“But it’s just another thing that I’m trying to improve on and just trying to keep pushing forward.”
McIntosh brushed off suggestions of a feud with Titmus after the Australian stoked the fire ahead of their 400 freestyle clash with her comments last month.
Titmus said McIntosh “hasn’t really had that experience yet, racing on the international stage with the big pressure”.
McIntosh said the pair had a good relationship and that she was “really excited to race and see what kind of goes down”.
“I’m just really excited to see what not only me but the rest of my teammates can do coming this week,” she said.
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