Windsor·Q & A

Kylie Masse driven to work harder to reach podium at Olympics after worlds win

LaSalle's Kylie Masse delivered Tuesday when she won the 100-metre backstroke at the World Aquatic Championships in Gwanju, South Korea. 

Kylie Masse calls her gold medal this week a 'stepping stone' to next year

Canada's Kylie Masse, seen in this file photo from the 2018 Team Canada finals, won gold in the 100-metre backstroke Tuesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

LaSalle's Kylie Masse delivered Tuesday when she won the 100-metre backstroke at the World Aquatic Championships in Gwanju, South Korea. 

Windsor Morning host Tony Doucette caught her on the phone in between races to chat about her time in the pool. 

How important is the gold medal you won this week?

It's extremely important. I'm really happy with it. It's a stepping stone on the way to next year and it really gave me confidence for the rest of this meet.

How do you prepare yourself psychologically for a race of that magnitude?

I think having confidence in my training and what I've already done. Racing is the fun part — we've done all the hard work prior to the competition. I like to use music as a distraction.

Take us into the room where you and the other swimmers gather prior to coming out onto the pool deck. What's it like in there?

I think it varies depending on who's in there and what race it is. Everyone kind of does their own thing. Some people just put their heads down and are in their zone. I like to just sit there and chat, or look around ... keep the environment calm and relaxing. 

Now in your event you're not on the starting blocks, you're in the pool. What's usually on your mind at that point?

Just setting myself up for a great race, focusing on hearing the starter say 'On your marks' and then waiting to blast off and have a great race. 

To what extent are you able to alter your speed in any given race?

In the 100 it's pretty much just give everything I've got, same with a 50. When it comes to the 200, I really have to try and control to go at a decent speed so I can have a strong blast. You have to play with the speed a bit.

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Are you able to get a clear view of the other swimmers in the race?

Not at all. I can see if the people next to me are close to me, but it's hard to tell if it's their hand or their head. I can never really tell where I am. For me it's just staying in my own lane. I have to do my own race, I can't swim against what other people are doing. 

Swimmer Kylie Masse says when she's in the pool, she's focused on her own race — not on where other swimmers are around her. (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

You were a student at the University of Toronto when you won a bronze medal at the Olympics in Rio. How has that changed your day to day routine?

I only took one course during the year, but I like taking school at the same time. It gives me a balance, something else to put my mind at ease. It's a great outlet, to have school and swimming at the same time. I have a year and a half left. 

You know you will be counted on to win a medal, perhaps even favoured to win a gold medal at the Olympics next summer. What are your thoughts on that?

I think a lot can change in a year. There's always people getting faster and faster and I think that drives me to continue training. I'm excited. I've got to get that tiny bit faster leading into next year. 

Answers have been edited for clarity and length.