Canadian swim medal record falls at world aquatics championships

GWANGJU, SOUTH KOREA—Kylie Masse helped set a Canadian record when she won the bronze medal in the 200-metre backstroke on Saturday at the FINA world aquatics championships.

Masse’s bronze was Canada’s seventh pool medal, the most the country has ever won at the worlds.

Canada has two gold and five bronze in the pool, as well as an open water bronze by Eric Hedlin. The previous pool mark was six, set in 1978.

Masse, also the 100-metre backstroke champion, equals Penny Oleksiak as Canada’s most decorated female swimmer at the world championships with four career medals, and ties Sydney Pickrem for the most individual medals by a Canadian woman at the worlds with three.

In the 200 backstroke final, Regan Smith of the United States reinforced her dominance, winning in two minutes 3.69 seconds — 0.34 off her world record, set in Friday’s semifinal. Kaylee McKeown of Australia won a heated battle for silver in 2:06.26, edging Masse’s time of 2:06.62.

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“I can’t complain,” said Masse. “The time is not as fast as I’ve been, but I’m really happy to be on the podium. I’m super happy for Regan and I think it will only push the backstroke field even faster. It definitely motivates me to get back to work and keep improving.”

John Atkinson, Swimming Canada’s high performance director, praised Masse’s consistency.

“It was a great effort by Kylie on day seven,” said Atkinson. “A lot of credit is also due to her coaches Linda Kiefer and Byron Macdonald at the University of Toronto.”

There was hope for another Canadian podium in the mixed 4×100-metre freestyle relay, but the foursome came up 0.43 seconds short for a fourth-place finish — in a Canadian record 3:22.54. The Americans set a world record by winning in 3:19.40. Australia was second in 3:19.97, France was third in 3:22.11. Markus Thormeyer, Yuri Kisil, Taylor Ruck and Oleksiak followed in fourth.

Oleksiak swam a personal-best anchor split of 52 seconds flat to move Canada up from sixth, but couldn’t quite catch France’s Marie Wattel despite making up more than a second.

“Everyone did a really good job,” said Kisil. “I just know from my own swim, there’s a lot I can improve on. It wasn’t the greatest time. I’m just proud of everyone stepping up.”

“We tried to race to the best of our abilities,” added Ruck. “It was hard. There was a huge waves from both sides and I thought we handled it well.”

In the 50-metre butterfly final, Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden made it three world titles in a row, clocking 25.02 seconds. Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands followed in 25.35, and Farida Osman of Egypt third in 25.47. Oleksiak took sixth in 25.69, just 0.07 seconds off her Canadian record — set at the 2017 worlds — and the third-fastest time of her career.

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