It's been a terrific year in competitive swimming for Canadian women. At the Rio Olympics last August, these athletes were the sports story of 2016 for our country. Women such as Katerine Savard, Taylor Ruck, Brittany MacLean, and Hilary Caldwell were just some of the swimmers who helped Canada rule the pool with a truckload of individual and team medals.
Then there was Penny Oleksiak.
The 16 year-old from Toronto was the breakout star of the year. Her two golds and two bronzes made her the most decorated Canadian Summer Olympian at a single Games.
Now fast forward to this week. It is the 2017 World Aquatics Championship in Budapest, Hungary, and all of last summer's Olympic success means that Canadians are more optimistic than ever. On Monday, Oleksiak just missed the podium in women's 100m butterfly, one of the events that she won in Rio. But Tuesday's races featured a different breakout performance from a less well-known Olympic medallist.
Her name is Kylie Masse.
A Masse-ive victory
Masse from LaSalle, Ontario, won the 100m backstroke. In fact, she didn't just win it, she broke the world record. Her time of 58.10 seconds was .02 seconds faster than the previous record of 58.12.
Now for the first time ever, Canada has a female world title holder in a swimming event!
The unexpected champion
You could argue that this victory isn't all that surprising. After all, Kylie won bronze in the same event in Rio. She is 21 years old and probably has many great swimming years ahead of her. But in a sport full of talented, young swimmers, she was never a standout.
Her coach and CBC Sports analyst Byron MacDonald probably put it best. "From 201st in the world in 2014, to the first in the world in 2017," he said after the race. "Pretty remarkable."
In the semi-finals on Tuesday, Kylie won her heat and came very close to beating the world record (within .06 seconds), so she knew that she had a great chance. But even so, it was clear that becoming a world record holder was overwhelming... in the best possible way.
Watch her talk with a CBC reporter about the experience below. Congratulations, Kylie!
Also be sure to keep track of the rest of the World Aquatics Championship, which go until July 30. There are plenty of Canadian swimmers left to hit the water!
I am a swimmer myself and follow Oleksiak all the time. I am a HUGE fan of hers. So glad to see another canadian swimmer do well!!!!!!! 🙂
GO CANADA! 🙂