GOLD COAST, Australia – Kylie Masse and Taylor Ruck provided Canada a gold and silver finish in the women’s 200-m backstroke on Sunday in swimming action at the Commonwealth Games.
It was a second victory for Masse (Windsor, Ont./University of Toronto) while Ruck (Swimming Canada High Performance Centre-Ontario) notched her sixth medal of the competition.
Canada ended the day with five more medals to bring its four-day swimming total to 14 and surpass its 11-medal intake from four years ago in Glasgow.
In the women’s 200-m backstroke, Masse set a Games record two minutes and 05.98 seconds to finish ahead of Ruck who clocked 2:06.42 out of Lane 1. Emily Seebohm of Australia was third in 2:06.82 and Olympic bronze medallist Hilary Caldwell of White Rock, B.C., was fifth in 2:09.22.
With the victory, Masse ended a 40-year gold medal drought in the event at the Games for Canada. On Saturday she was the first Canadian winner in the 100 back in 44 years.
‘’I’m super happy with that,’’ said Masse. ‘’I just tried to come in to my first 100 easy speed and really build it towards giving my all on the last length.’’
Despite her busy schedule, Ruck does not seem to be losing any steam. She qualified seventh in prelims.
“It definitely boosts my confidence to know that I can focus on each of my individual swims,’’ she said. ‘’I went in to have fun tonight with no expectations except to finish higher than in prelims.’’
Caldwell said that this was probably the last competition of her career.
‘’I didn’t have quite the performance I wanted at the worlds last year after a great season of training,’’ she said. ‘’I really wanted to come down here and be in the Games environment. It’s a cool way to end.’’
Two more Canadians were on the podium in the women’s 200-m individual medley final. Siobhan Marie O’Connor of England took the gold in 2:09.80, Sarah Darcel of HPC-Victoria followed in 2:11.14 for the silver and Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson of the HPC-Vancouver was third in 2:11.74.
‘’The breaststroke was the key for me,’’ said Darcel. ‘’It was a great race.’’
Seltenreich-Hodgson, who has been on the national team since 2013, was satisfied with the first individual medal of her career.
‘’The time wasn’t really what I wanted,’’ said the Ottawa native. ‘’But at the same time I did everything I could to get to the wall, so I’m happy.’’
In the Para-swimming 200-m individual medley, Australians were 1-2 with Jesse Aungles first in 2:30.77 and Blake Cochrane second in 2:32.72 followed by Philippe Vachon of Trois-Rivieres, Que., who clocked 2:34.03 for the bronze. Zach Zona of Waterford, Ont., was fifth in 2:41.66.
‘’It just felt super amazing,’’ said Vachon. ‘’Celebrating this moment made all the work I put in to be here worth it.’’
In the women’s Para-swimming 100-m freestyle, Katarina Roxon of Kippens, N.L. was sixth in 1:08.18, Abi Tripp of Kingston, Ont., seventh in 1:09.43 and Morgan Bird of Calgary eighth in 1:09.85.
‘’I love the enthusiasm of our young team,’’ said Roxon, 25, competing at her third Commonwealth Games. ‘’To see them so excited about swimming reminds when I was around their age. That’s what keeps me going. I love sport and I love swimming and that will never change.’’
On the men’s side, Yuri Kisil of Calgary was seventh in the 100-m freestyle in 48.80 and Canada was fourth in the men’s 4×200-m freestyle relay in 7:14.12 with Jeremy Bagshaw of HPC-Victoria, Markus Thormeyer, Kisil and Carson Olafson of HPC-Vancouver.
‘’In the relays we always want to give our all for each other,’’ said Kisil. ‘’Having that kind of effort really lifts the whole team.’’
In the 100-butterfly semifinal, Josiah Binnema of HPC-Vancouver overcame troubles with his goggles to qualify eighth for the final in 53.41.
In the women’s 100-m freestyle semifinals, Ruck qualified second in 53.05, Kayla Sanchez of HPC-Ontario fifth in 54.18 and Penny Oleksiak of Toronto Swim Club sixth in 54.34.
‘’It was a fun race with the crazy crowd,’’ said Sanchez. “I just need to fix up some little things. I’m super excited about the final.’’
Faith Knelson of HPC-Victoria and Kierra Smith of Kelowna, B.C., qualified fourth and fifth for the 100-m breaststroke final in their semis clocking 1:07.30 and 1:07.64.
‘’It was a good race, I was just focusing on my own lane,’’ said Knelson, who notched a personal best. ‘’I just need to get out fast and comeback stronger. Can’t wait to come back and race for Canada tomorrow night.’’
Two Canadians reached the women’s 50-butterfly final. Oleksiak finished fourth in 25.88 and Rebecca Smith of Red Deer, Alta./HPC-Ontario, fifth in 26.49.
‘’That’s the fastest I’ve been through prelims and semis so I’m happy with it,’’ said Smith. ‘’I think both Penny and I did really well.’’