When then-16-year-old Penny Oleksiak stunned the swim world with her gold medal performances at the 2016 Rio Olympics, many Canadians were wondering the same thing.
Was her success just a brief blip interrupting years of American and Australian dominance in the pool? Or was Canada ready to step up and become a full-time world swimming superpower?
Seven years later, another 16-year-old has given the country an answer. And that answer's name is Summer!
At the Canadian swimming trials last week in Toronto, Summer McIntosh was dominant. How dominant?
She entered five events. She left the trials having set five new world junior and Canadian records, and broke two world records in the 400m freestyle and the 400m medley (where you swim 100 metres each of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle).
In other words, every time she hit the water, she set a record. Wow!
Best of the country
The Canadian swimming trials are a sort of tryout for the best of the country, so it didn't involve any international competitors. But a swim time is a swim time, so you don't need to actually be in the pool against competitors from another country to set a world record.
The main purpose of this year's trials was to put together the team that will compete at the actual 2023 Swimming Worlds, or the World Aquatic Championships, which will be taking place in Fukuoka, Japan this July. And Summer McIntosh will be more than a participant.
She will be a favourite.
Summer will be joined by an unbelievable array of talent, including Oleksiak, fellow Olympics medallists Taylor Ruck and Maggie Mac Neil, worlds medallist Kylie Masse, and new breakout star and college champion Josh Liendo.
It is maybe the best swim team Canada has ever assembled—one that is worthy of going head-to-head against the world's greatest swimmers and coming out on top.
Japan is the first test
The 2023 Worlds won't the be the first time that Summer has hit the international stage. She was at the Tokyo Olympics as a 14-year-old and was a part of a really strong Canadian team at 2022 Worlds last summer in Budapest.
But thanks to these trials, this year feels different.
Summer McIntosh and the Canadian team legitimately feel like a team that should be feared in a number of events. Maybe even a team that can be led by a swimmer as unstoppable as names like 19-time Worlds gold medallist Katie Ledecky or even Michael Phelps?
Okay, that is a really high mark to hit. But if nothing else, just being able to think about being the best in the world proves that all the hard work behind the scenes in Canadian swimming is paying off.
And who knows where these amazing athletes will be at when the 2024 Paris Olympics arrive? Let's hit the water already!
Watch Summer McIntosh absolutely blow the competition away in her world record 400m metre below.