BUDAPEST, Hungary – Kylie Masse is one step away from a medal at FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
The 21-year-old from Windsor, Ont., maintained her No. 1 world ranking and shaved down her Canadian record in her 100-m backstroke semifinal Monday. Her time of 58.18 seconds sends her into Tuesday’s final with the top seed and the world record of 58.12 in sight.
“Every opportunity I get to race I give it my all because you never know. I think it didn’t matter if it was prelims, semis or finals, I was just going to try my best. That’s really all I had in mind,” said Masse, who took bronze in the 100 at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“I’m happy with a best time, but being on top of the podium would be cool. I think one of my strong qualities in swimming is my back-end speed, so honestly I think if I still go out the same 50 speed and just really work on my last 50 and the last 15 leading into the wall it will help.”
Hilary Caldwell of White Rock, B.C., meanwhile, finished 12th in 1:00.29, with her signature 200-m distance to come beginning Friday. Caldwell, who trains at the High Performance Centre – Victoria, took bronze in the 200 at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Kierra Smith of Kelowna, B.C., will join Masse in Tuesday’s finals at Duna Arena. Known more for her performances in the 200-m breaststroke, the 23-year-old swam a personal best to advance to her first international final in the 100-m distance. Smith advanced in a tie for sixth position with a time of 1:06.62.
“I’m so excited,” Smith said. “I’m really happy that the speed is getting there and I’m getting stronger.
“It’s hard for me to put too much pressure on myself because I put so much pressure on myself in the 200, so I’m just going to try to have fun again and go another best time.”
Rachel Nicol of Lethbridge, Alta., was 10th in 1:07.03.
Penny Oleksiak was the first Canadian off the blocks in the evening session. The 17-year-old from Toronto just missed a medal, finishing fourth in the women’s 100-m butterfly in 56.94.
“I’m pretty happy with the race. I know there’s stuff I can fix going forward. Overall I can’t really complain, the race is over and I can’t change anything,” said Oleksiak, who took silver in Rio in a world junior record 56.46. “I’m not disappointed, this year’s been kind of tough with injuries and everything. It’s definitely not the best year I could’ve had, but considering the fact I could still come fourth at worlds I’m pretty happy.”
Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom won her third straight world title in the distance in a championship record 55.53, just 0.05 off her world record from Rio.
“Sarah’s definitely someone I really look up to, and I always study her races to see what she does and how I can improve,” Oleksiak said. “I think she’s also a really good person, so she’s someone I want to be like when I’m older and I’m trying to be like her.”
Canada had another finalist in Sydney Pickrem, who entered the 200-m individual medley as the No. 3 seed. Approaching the wall on the first turn, Pickrem took on water. Unfortunately it inhibited her to the point where she wasn’t able to continue in the race. Pickrem will take time working with her coaches and support staff and refocus and re-prepare before Sunday’s 400-m IM prelims.
Javier Acevedo of Scarborough, Ont., finished 14th in the men’s 100-m backstroke in 54.11. The 19-year-old moved up from 15th seed and improved on his 17th-place finish from Rio, where he just missed semifinals.
“It feels good to be back in a semifinal, now at the senior level,” Acevedo said. “I need to swim faster in the morning and get a better lane. If I’m faster in the morning I’ll be faster at night.”
The FINA World Championships run through Sunday. Finals begin at 11:30 am ET each day and will be streamed live by CBC in English at http://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/summer/aquatics and in French on Radio-Canada Sports Facebook Live.
Full results are available at http://www.omegatiming.com/Competition?id=000111010AFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF&day=2