Player’s Own Voice podcast: Swimming prodigy Summer McIntosh a level-headed star

Summer and Brooke McIntosh’s parents have a good problem brewing.

From Oct., 28-30, Skate Canada International will likely see Brooke figure skating on one side of the Greater Toronto Area, and on the exact same days, Summer will likely be tearing up the pool in World Cup races on the opposite side of town.

Scheduling headaches are part of the price to be paid when raising two high performance athletes. Luckily, as Summer makes clear in the latest episode of CBC Sports Player’s Own Voice podcast, sibling rivalry will not be adding fuel to a fraught parental weekend. The McIntosh sisters are fantastically competitive young women, but they are also each other’s biggest booster.

Summer caught up with podcast host Anastasia Bucsis from Florida, where she and her training partners were spared the worst of Hurricane Ian’s destruction. The swimmers have pitched in to help clear downed trees and debris around the pool facilities and community, but in the meantime, it’s 100 per cent back to the business of training for Summer McIntosh.

Well, almost 100 per cent. There’s also Grade 11 assignments taking up any spare minutes in the long day.

Considering her ranking (No. 3 in the world among female swimmers) it’s easy to forget that McIntosh is still just 16 years old. Without harping on her age — because, what teen wants to be constantly reminded of their youthfulness? — Anastasia and Summer have a slightly surreal conversation about being an experienced Olympian at the age of 14. You know you are young if you happened to be eight years old when you watched Penny Oleksiak swim in Rio. Now that they’re teammates it’s the experienced Oleksiak’s turn to be in awe of a Canadian prodigy.

It’s impossible not to worry a little when we see huge success coming to a young athlete, but this engaging conversation makes clear: Summer McIntosh is as level-headed as they come.

And another thing: Being the youngest world champion in a decade might actually just be the beginning for McIntosh. She likes the longer distances, and typically, performance in endurance events only gets better with age.

Like the CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice essay series, POV podcast lets athletes speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective.

We also prepare transcripts for our hard-of-hearing audience. To listen to Summer McIntosh, our season debut guest Becky Sauerbrunn, or any earlier episodes — many of them recorded on site during the recent Olympics and Paralympics — head to CBC Listen or wherever else you get your podcasts.

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