Kylie Masse swims into spotlight at hometown championships
Silver medallist grew up 15 minutes from short-course worlds venue
About 15 minutes.
That's the amount of time Kylie Masse has spent with her parents during this week's world short-course swimming championships. It's also the length of time it takes to drive from the home where Masse grew up to the venue in Windsor, Ont.
"We were able to give her a care pack of things she needed and that's about it," said Louie Masse, Kylie's father.
In the span of six months, Kylie Masse has gone from an unknown name to one of Canada's most talked about swimmers. Now she's front and centre in the city where she learned how to swim — the LaSalle, Ont., native appears on event posters throughout Windsor's WFCU Centre, where the world championships are being held.
On Wednesday night in Windsor, Masse delighted her family and fans by capturing a silver medal in the 100-metre women's backstroke. Her mom, dad, brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all wore "Team Kylie" shirts and watched anxiously as she swam her way to second place.
For the family, watching Kylie swim in her first of three events at the short-course worlds was a different experience than following her in Rio, where she won a surprising bronze medal in her first major international competition.
"I was probably more nervous here than I was in Rio just because we really didn't have much expectation over there," said Louie. "The light has been on her for a little while now. I was a little anxious."
'You just have to be you'
Kylie's mom, Cindy, said the way everything has fallen into place since Rio is almost storybook and at times "a little uncomfortable."
"She's just our daughter," Cindy said. "She's like the girl next door. She's like any other 20-year-old."
For younger brother Daniel, it's all a little surreal.
"I'm proud of her and glad she's accomplished her dreams," he said. "Since August until now I've been asked about her a lot."
Kylie's grandfather and grandmother beamied with pride after her silver-medal performance.
"She's maturing very well and handles herself quite well," said Noel Thomas, with tears in his eyes.
"She's just great," said Carol Thomas. "But you can't get ahead of yourself. And you can't get a big head about it. You just have to be you."
Coach thrilled with performance
Racing down into the lower level of the WFCU Centre to meet Masse after her silver-medal race, coach Byron MacDonald was grinning ear to ear.
"She responded brilliantly to the pressure," he said.
"I think the big thing for Kylie is that she was under a phenomenal amount of pressure. Her picture is all over this place, all over the city. So that's a lot of pressure to put on a woman who is new to international competition."
MacDonald was quick to point out that Masse didn't even make the national team for the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. In the 2014 world swimming rankings, she was 201st overall.
"I think the upside for Kylie is tremendous. You have to remember she's new to this. Anything can happen right now. She has not hit her limit yet," said MacDonald.