Kylie Masse breaks own Canadian record in 200m backstroke at swim trials
23-year-old's time is the world's fastest this year
With a victory and a spot on the world championship team already safely tucked in her figurative back pocket, Kylie Masse had nothing to lose.
The 23-year-old from LaSalle, Ont., broke her own Canadian record and touched the wall in the world's fastest time this year to win the 200-metre backstroke at the Canadian swimming trials on Friday.
"It does [mean a lot]," Masse said of the world-leading time. "It's nice to be at that mark this early in the season. I know what I'm capable of now and so I can just get back to work and continue to work on things to be even faster."
Two days after she won the 100 backstroke — she's the reigning world champion and Olympic bronze medallist at that distance — Masse finished in two minutes 5.94 seconds at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Taylor Ruck of Kelowna, B.C., claimed the silver in 2:06.70.
WATCH | Masse and Ruck put up fastest times in 200:
"I wasn't expecting [the record], but I always want to try to go best times so I'm really happy with that time," Masse said. "I think getting on the team in the 100 and having a good race in the 100 definitely gave me a nice confidence coming into the 200 and I just tried to be relaxed and stay in control."
Markus Thormeyer of Vancouver won his third race in as many days, adding a victory in the 200 backstroke to his medal haul. Thormeyer won in 1:57.42, edging Cole Pratt of Calgary (1:58.07).
Maggie MacNeil of London, Ont., captured the women's 100 butterfly (57.04), while Rebecca Smith of Red Deer, Alta., was second (58.30).
Oleksiak misses cut in 100 butterfly
Quadruple Olympic medallist Penny Oleksiak was third (58.61), meaning she won't swim that event, in which she won silver in 2016 in Rio, at the world championships. Oleksiak had qualified for the world team however earlier in the week.
The trials determine the Canadian team for the world championships later this summer in Gwangju, South Korea. Swimmers must finish first or second at the trials, plus be under the FINA A qualifying time in their event, to make the team.
The women's 200 backstroke was one of the marquee events of the evening, featuring the backstroke specialist Masse versus Ruck, an 18-year-old who captured a record eight medals at last year's Commonwealth Games in Australia.
"She has such a strong backstroke and I knew she would be right there, and it would be a tough race," Masse said of Ruck. "So I was expecting her to go super fast. But if one of us goes fast it's only pushing the other person, so to be both of us together is pretty neat, and great for us as well."
The two went through the first 50 metres in identical times, Ruck had a slight edge through 100 metres before Masse pulled away over the final 100.
Two days after setting a Canadian record in the 100 backstroke, Thormeyer narrowly missed the Canadian record of 1:57.34 in the 200 back.
'Missing it by a little bit kind of stings'
"[The record] is always kind of in the back of my head," Thormeyer said. "Missing it by a little bit kind of stings, but that's life I guess."
Mackenzie Padington of Campbell River, B.C., won the women's 400 freestyle (4:08.82), narrowly beating Emma O'Croinin, a 15-year-old from Edmonton (4:09.11), who's the youngest swimmer to make the world team so far.
"I'm a swimmer that goes out for it. She was the one who pushed back the most," Padington said of the stiff competition posed by O'Croinin. "I have never personally met her but I am so proud of her. Two years ago was my breakout year. Now she's the young one and I'm so happy."
"She is four years younger than me. We don't see kids her age go under 4:10. She has so much potential. It's quite amazing."
O'Croinin was similarly amazed.
"I'm kind of shocked. I just wanted to go out there and see what I could do. I'm really happy with the way it turned out," she said.
Jeremy Bagshaw of Victoria won the men's 400 freestyle in 3:50.96.
Para swimmer Alec Elliot collected a pair of gold medals, winning both the men's 100 butterfly and 400 freestyle multi-class races.
Para swimmer Aurelie Rivard won the women's 400 freestyle.
Earlier, Tess Routliffe won the multi-class para 50 butterfly, while Etienne Boutin-Cote won the men's event. Samantha Ryan won the para 100 butterfly.
Some 600 swimmers are competing this week for spots on six Canadian teams: the FINA world championships, the world para championships, the Pan American Games, the Parapan American Games, the FISU Summer Universiade, and the FINA world junior championships.
The teams will be named Sunday evening.
WATCH | Complete coverage from Friday: