TOKYO – Taylor Ruck set a new record for medals by a Canadian, and Kylie Masse was named the top overall female swimmer as Pan Pacific Swimming Championships pool action wrapped up Sunday.
Ruck, 18, took silver in the women’s 200-m backstroke for her fifth medal of the championships. Ruck’s time of 2:06.41 was just behind American Kathleen Baker, who set a Pan Pacs record of 2:06.14 for the win. American Regan Smith was third in a world junior record 2:06.46, followed by Masse in fourth (2:07.00).
Ruck entered the last day of pool competition with a gold medal in the women’s 200-m freestyle, and bronzes in the 100-m freestyle, 4×100-m and 4×200-m free relays. She broke a seven-way tie to become the first Canadian to ever win five medals at Pan Pacs. It’s her second such record this year, after tying the all-time mark for Commonwealth Games medals with eight in April.
“I just wanted to do the best that I could and it’s so amazing to be able to accomplish that,” Ruck said. “I couldn’t have done it without my relay teammates and all of Team Canada.
“This sets my expectations higher,” she added. “I just love Japan and hopefully I’ll be able to come back here in two years (for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games).”
Meanwhile, Calgary’s Yuri Kisil earned Canada’s first men’s medal, getting his hand on the wall for bronze in the 50-m freestyle. The 22-year-old from the High Performance Centre – Vancouver swam a personal best 22.02. It’s the first individual international hardware for the decorated relay medallist, Canada’s co-male swimmer of the year for 2017.
“It’s a big deal. I’ve wanted to get on the podium individually for a long time. To finally do it here means the world,” Kisil said. “I had a lot of great experiences here and hopefully we’ll be back in two years.”
Ruck just missed two other medals, finishing fourth in the 50-m freestyle (24.47), and helping the women’s medley relay to a fourth-place finish
In the relay, Masse led off with a 58.63 backstroke leg to start Canada in first, then Kelsey Wog swam a lifetime best split of 1:07.28 in the breaststroke to hold third. Rebecca Smith followed with a personal best butterfly leg of 57.51 but faced a tall task against 100-m butterfly champion Rikako Ikee, who passed her in a blistering 55.48 to the delight of the hometown crowd. Ruck’s anchor leg – a best-ever 51.72 – brought Canada within .11 of the podium, but just short of Japan’s national record 3:55.03. Australia took gold in 3:52.74, followed by Team USA in 3:53.21 as the top four teams all went under the previous Pan Pacs record. Canada’s time of 3:55.14 was faster than its Rio 2016 Olympic relay and just .28 short of the Canadian record set at last year’s world championships.
“To come that close is exciting. We just tried to give it our all,” Masse said.
Masse received a major consolation prize when she was named female swimmer of the championships for her 100-m backstroke win earlier in the meet.
“It’s been a long year with a lot of racing, but I’ve taken a lot of things out of it, especially from the mental challenges I’ve faced,” Masse said. “Coming off of last summer and having a world record was a different, not mindset, but just different things in my head. I was facing some pressures, a lot of different media opportunities, which is awesome and all great to do and I love doing it, but it was more things added to my plate.
“I’ve been managing all that and really just trying to stay focused and motivated,” said the 22-year-old from Windsor, Ont., who swims for University of Toronto. “I’m still learning how to maintain good racing in back-to-back events and that’s something I need to get better at.”
The high-level international championships, which feature charter nations Canada, the United States, Australia, and host Japan as well as other invited nations, conclude with open water competition Tuesday. Swimming Canada President Cheryl Gibson participated in an official ceremony at the conclusion of the session, as Canada will host the 14thth Pan Pacs in 2022.
In other Canadian results, Wog and Sydney Pickrem tied for fifth in the women’s 200-m breaststroke in 2:24.73. Javier Acevedo of Scarborough, Ont., finished seventh in the men’s 200-m backstroke in 1:58.36, his second personal best of the day.
Canada’s men’s medley relay team of Acevedo, Richard Funk, Josiah Binnema and Kisil finished fifth in 3:34.20.
Scarborough, Ont., native Kayla Sanchez of HPC-Ontario was seventh in the women’s 50-m freestyle in 24.94, the first time under 25 seconds for the 17-year-old.
Ottawa native Eli Wall of the University of Toronto came eighth in the men’s 200-m breaststroke in 2:13.56. Calgary’s Alex Pratt was Canada’s top finisher in the men’s 800-m freestyle. The 18-year-old national team rookie finished 11th in a personal best 8:03.12.