Canada's Kylie Masse breaks world record in historic swim feat
LaSalle, Ont., native becomes 1st Canadian female swimmer to win a world title
Kylie Masse made history on Tuesday.
The Canadian broke the world record in 100-metre backstroke Tuesday at the world aquatics championships in Budapest, becoming the first female Canadian swimmer to ever win a world title.
"I don't think it's really sunk in yet," said Masse. "I touched the wall, I looked back and I had to make sure I as looking at the right name and the right time. I was just super excited in the moment."
Masse's time of 58.10 seconds snaps the longest-standing record in women's swimming, held since 2009. The previous best time was 58.12 seconds.
Masse, a LaSalle, Ont., native, came .06 off the record in Monday's semifinal, making it a real possibility that she would improve and break the record in the final.
After a slow start, coming third at the turn, Masse turned on the jets for the final 50 metres, seemingly gaining speed as the race progressed. With about 15 metres left, Masse pulled away from the pack to secure world-record gold.
"[It's] pretty crazy. I don't even know what to say. I'm super happy," Masse told CBC Sports.
She won Olympic bronze at the event in Rio last August, to set a Canadian record, and had lowered that record twice entering Tuesday's action.
"After the Olympics I just gained a lot more confidence in myself and experience," said Masse. "I gained a lot from just doing that routine for a week, doing prelims, semis and finals. All that experience really helps and makes you feel more confident."
Masse also becomes the first Canadian to win a world title since Brent Hayden claimed gold in the men's 100 freestyle in 2007. In 2009, Annamay Pierse set a world record in the semifinal of the 200 breaststroke, but had to settle for silver in the final. And in the 1960s, Vancouver's Elaine Tanner held world records in the 100 and 200 backstroke before the first FINA world championships were held in 1973.
CBC Sports analyst Byron MacDonald, who coaches Masse, called her an inspiration after the race.
"Never touted as a star when she was young, she kept at it because she loved it and put herself in the right situation here at U of T to excel," said MacDonald, who is also the University of Toronto head coach. "From 201st in the world in 2014, to the first [all-time] in the world in 2017. Pretty remarkable."
American Kathleen Baker won silver in 58.58 seconds, with Australian Emily Seebohm one one-hundredth of a second behind her in third.
The Canadian employs a unique coaching staff, with MacDonald and assistant Linda Kiefer splitting time with Masse.
"Often such a situation could be confusing and as such disastrous for an athlete," said MacDonald, "but in our case it works beautifully. Linda and I have worked together for over 25 years so we are always on the same page."
MacDonald now just wants Masse to enjoy her feat — not many get the chance to set a world record.
"A humble star, she will continue to impress as we build to [the 2020] Tokyo [Olympics]. But she needs to pause and enjoy this moment," said MacDonald.
Too easy for Ledecky
Katie Ledecky couldn't break her own world record, but she had no problem dominating the rest of the field for women's 1500-metre freestyle gold.
Ledecky finished with a time of 15:31.82, almost 20 seconds ahead of silver-medal winner Mireia Belmonte of Spain, who finished at 15:50.89. Italian Simone Quadarella won bronze, clocking in at at 15:53.86.
"Ledecky is simply the greatest woman swimmer ever. Her dominance is staggering. And I do believe she will continue for many more years and start putting up Michael Phelps types of dominant medal counts," said MacDonald.
MEDAL ALERT | Kylie Masse sets a new world record in the 100m backstroke, winning gold at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FINABudapest2017?src=hash">#FINABudapest2017</a> <a href="https://t.co/23V6h5Xe2S">https://t.co/23V6h5Xe2S</a> <a href="https://t.co/vimQHSItO0">pic.twitter.com/vimQHSItO0</a>—@CBCOlympics
Ledecky now owns the seven fastest times ever in this event, with Tuesday's performance coming placing fourth.
"Remember, she changed coaches this Fall due to her enrolment in university at the opposite side of the country, so there needs to be a small adjustment period," said MacDonald.
Later in the day, Ledecky qualified for the 200 freestyle final with a time of 1:54.69.
Canadians Katerine Savard and Mary-Sophie Harvey also competed in that semifinal, but failed to qualify with times of 1:58.46 and 1:58.15, respectively.
Peaty the record breaker
Britain's Adam Peaty broke a pair of 50 breaststroke world records Tuesday.
Peaty set the first mark with a time of 26.10 seconds in the morning preliminaries, shaving 0.32 seconds off the standard he set at the 2015 worlds in Kazan, Russia. He went even faster during the evening semifinals of the non-Olympic event, touching in 25.95.
When Peaty saw the time, he mouthed in disbelief, "No way."
Some of that shock may have come because Peaty almost quit swimming as a young teenager. Instead, he made an adjustment that has paid many dividends.
"He changed up his stroke to a more power-based stroke and shortly his career became rejuvenated," said MacDonald. "And now, as one of the strongest competitors in the water, he has perfected that power stroke to dominate."
Canadian Smith finishes 6th
Kierra Smith couldn't keep pace with the leaders, finishing sixth in the women's 100 breaststroke final.
American Lilly King set a world record at 1:04.13 to win gold in the event. Another American, Katie Meili, took silver with a time of 1:05.03, barely edging out Russian Yulia Efimova who finished at 1:05.05.
Smith, from Vancouver, clocked in at 1:06.90, improving on her 19th place finish at the event from Rio.
With files from The Associated Press