GWANGJU, South Korea - Kylie Masse became the first Canadian swimmer to successfully defend a world title as she won the women's 100 backstroke Tuesday for Canada's second gold medal at the FINA World Championships.
''It's an incredible feeling,'' said Masse, 23, who calls LaSalle, Ont., home and trains at the University of Toronto under Linda Kiefer and Byron MacDonald. ''That was definitely one of my goals coming in here. I'm really happy with that. I couldn't ask for anything more.''
Masse was fourth at the turn but produced a powerful second length to win in 58.60, a half second off her Canadian mark and former world record set at the last worlds in 2017. Minna Atherton of Australia followed in 58.85 and Olivia Smoliga of Team USA was third in 58.91.
''I knew it was going to be a tough race,'' said Masse. ''It's such a strong and deep field so I just tried to stay in my own lane and stick to my own race strategy. Coming off that turn I gave myself momentum and speed to finish that last 25 the way I wanted to do.''
Team have really peaked, as proven yesterday by Margaret MacNeil, and today she was joined in the exclusive World Championship Gold Club by fellow Canuck, Kylie Masse, in the 100m Backstroke. #FINAGwangju2019 #Swimming
Swimming Canada High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson was impressed by Masse's performance under pressure.
"When you come into any major championships and Games as defending champion, there's a whole different level of expectation on the athlete that wasn't there beforehand," Atkinson said. "I think that Kylie handled herself tremendously. To come back, get a gold medal, get her hand on the wall first, her experience came through over that second 50, and she is a true champion."
As two-time defending world champion, Masse knows she'll be on the hot seat for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
''I want to continue to improve,'' said Masse, the Olympic bronze medalist in Rio. ''I would love to be better with my time and that's my goal. But right now I'm over the moon to win here again.''
"Very simply, Kylie is a winner. Period," said Varsity Blues head coach Byron MacDonald. "To be undefeated in three years against the best in the world time and time again is a feat very few athletes in any sport could duplicate. She is truly one of the finest ever.
Full results: http://www.omegatiming.com/2019/18th-fina-world-championships-sw-live-results
The eight-day meet continues through Sunday at the Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center.
Source: Swimming Canada