TOKYO – Kylie Masse gave Canada its second champion in as many nights as she won a world-class women’s 100-m backstroke race Friday at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Tokyo.
Masse highlighted a three-medal night for Canada. The 22-year-old from Windsor, Ont., who trains at the University of Toronto, went 58.61 for the win. Masse went in as the top seed, earning Lane 4 with a Pan Pacs record swim of 58.29 in the morning. She was second at the turn behind Australian superstar Emily Seebohm (58.79), but pushed past her and also held off American world-record holder Kathleen Baker (58.83).
“That’s always the goal for me, I like being able to accelerate in my finish and come into the wall hard with a high stroke rate,” Masse said.
The three medallists were the same at the 2017 FINA World Championships, which Masse also won, with Baker taking silver and Seebohm bronze.
“It’s always a great race when they’re in there for sure. It’s great competition and we all push each other. We’re also friendly with each other in the ready room which I think is awesome. It’s awesome for backstroke moving forward to have that kind of competitive rivalry,” said Masse, who now holds the Pan Pac, Commonwealth and world championships.
Meanwhile, Taylor Ruck brought her medal total to three, following up her 200-m freestyle gold with bronzes in the 100-m free and 4×200-m free relay. Ruck’s personal best of 52.72 in the 100 was the second-fastest ever by a Canadian, just 0.02 off Penny Oleksiak’s Olympic gold-winning time of 52.70.
Oleksiak’s co-Olympic champion Simone Manuel of USA out-touched Ruck for silver in 52.66, while Australia’s Cate Campbell won in 52.03 – lowering her own Pan Pacs record with the second-fastest time in history.
“That was amazing, I can’t even describe it. It was so cool to be part of that race,” Ruck said. “I felt really good in that race. The first 50 I went out pretty good and smooth and the last 50 I just tried to hang on and tried to race Cate and Simone.”
Kayla Sanchez of Scarborough, Ont., finished sixth in 53.68, her second personal best of the day.
Ruck and Sanchez combined with their High Performance Centre – Ontario teammate Rebecca Smith, and Mackenzie Padington of HPC-Victoria for a time of 7:47.28 to take bronze in the 4×200 relay. Ruck swam second and was Canada’s fastest in 1:54.08 to move the team into second, and Padington brought it home as the anchor in a lifetime best split of 1:56.75 to keep Canada ahead of host Japan. Australia won in a Pan Pacs record 7:44.12, as Madeleine Groves held off Katie Ledecky and Team USA (7:44.37).
“These three girls set it up amazingly, so I just really wanted us to get a medal. I think we all did really good and accomplished that,” Padington said.
Pool competition runs through Sunday, with open water competition set for Tuesday at the high-level international championships, which feature charter nations Canada, the United States, Australia, and host Japan as well as other invited nations. Canada will host the 14thth Pan Pacs in 2022
CBC Sports is webcasting finals from the pool beginning at 5 a.m. ET each day.
In other Canadian highlights, Oakville, Ont., native Mack Darragh of HPC-Ontario finished fifth in the men’s 200-m butterfly, lowering his own Canadian record to 1:56.27.
“Anytime you can set a Canadian record, I’ll take that. Before I only got it by three one-hundredths, so now it really feels like mine,” Darragh said. “I’ve only been training at the High Performance Centre – Ontario for three months, but to swim a best time already when I wasn’t really expecting it bodes well.”
Javier Acevedo of Scarborough, Ont., was fifth in the men’s 100-m backstroke in 53.90.
“I would have liked to have been faster but I’m pretty happy with it. I’ve never been under 54 at the end of the year, so it shows the work I’m doing is paying off,” Acevedo said.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Markus Thormeyer of the High Peformance Centre – Vancouver was sixth in 54.02.
Acevedo was called upon on short notice to replace the injured Jeremy Bagshaw and team with Thormeyer, Ruslan Gaziev and Alex Pratt in the men’x 4×200-m free relay. Canada finished fifth in 7:18.25.
Mabel Zavaros of Oakville, Ont. finished sixth in the women’s 200-m butterfly in 2:09.95. Newmarket, Ont., native Danielle Hanus of the High Performance Centre – Victoria was seventh in 2:11.34, her second personal best of the day.
Toronto’s Kennedy Goss was seventh in the women’s 100-m backstroke in 1:00.90.