ABU DHABI – Maggie Mac Neil anchored Canada to the gold medal in the 4×50-m mixed freestyle relay and Kylie Masse added a silver in the women’s 100-m backstroke on Friday at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m).
After two days of racing in the six-day event, Canada is at five medals, including three gold, best ever for Canada at the short-course worlds.
In the mixed relay, Mac Neil reeled in two swimmers on the final leg as Canada clocked a national record one minute and 28.55 seconds for the gold out of Lane 1. High Performance Centre-Ontario swimmers Joshua Liendo, Yuri Kisil and Kayla Sanchez preceded Mac Neil, from London, Ont.
“Anchor is always stressful,” said Mac Neil, the Olympic and world long-course champion in 100-m butterfly.
She said the win was “redemption” after a slow relay exchange between her and Kayla Sanchez left Canada 0.13 seconds out of a medal in the women’s 4×50-m medley relay earlier in the session.
“I knew there were a lot of things I needed to fix after the medley relay final and with an outside lane I knew we had a pretty good shot. It was all about putting together a perfect race.”
That winning eclipsed the previous national mark of 1:29.83 set in a bronze-medal performance at the 2016 worlds in Windsor, Ont, which Kisil was also part of. Rebecca Smith of the University of Calgary and Katerine Savard of Montreal’s CAMO club will also receive the gold as they raced in the morning heats.
“I wanted to be better in the relay after a disappointing 100 fly just before,” said Liendo. “I shook it off and just got ready to just go rip it and not think about too much what happened in the last race.”
The Netherlands took silver in 1:28.61 and the Russian Swimming Federation was third in 1:28.97.
In the race just before, Masse also broke the Canadian record and took the silver medal in the women’s 100-m backstroke.
Louise Hansson of Sweden earned the gold in 55.20, edging Masse, based at HPC-Ontario, second in 55.22. That lowered the previous national mark of 55.61 set by Ingrid Wilm in September. Katharine Berkoff of the U.S. was third in 55.40.
“I’m really pleased with it,” said Masse, a triple Olympic medallist at the Tokyo Olympics. “It was a best time by a long shot, I haven’t been that fast in a while. It was a super tight finish, Louise is a great swimmer and to be super close to her at a worlds is amazing.”
Three other Canadian records went by the wayside as well.
Canada was fourth in the women’s 4×50-m medley relay breaking the national record a second time in the final. After a 1:45.17 in the morning, Masse, Sydney Pickrem of HPC-Ontario, Mac Neil and Sanchez went 1:44.16 and were just edged for the bronze. The previous mark was 1:45.49 set at the 2016 worlds.
Sweden tied the world record held by the U.S. for the gold in 1:42.38. The Americans were second in 1:43.61 and the Netherlands third in 1:44.03.
Liendo broke two Canadian records in the men’s 100-m butterfly with a 50.00 seconds flat in the prelims that included a Canadian 50-m record 23.13 in his first 50. That bettered the 50.90 set by Coleman Allen in 2013 and the mark of 23.31 held by Allen and Joe Bartoch. In the semis, Liendo ranked 14th in 50.29 and did not advance.
In the women’s 800-m freestyle heats, 15-year-old Summer McIntosh of HPC- Ontario smashed the Canadian record clocking the second fastest time at 8:13.37. That bettered the previous mark of 8:19.99 set by Savannah King in 2009. King, who was with the team in Abu Dhabi as a coach for the FINA/CNSG Marathon Swim World Series, had encouraged McIntosh to break her old mark.
The only racer faster than McIntosh was Bingjle Li of China first in 8:10.08. The final is Saturday.
Sanchez also advanced to the women’s 100-m freestyle final, tying for third overall in the semis in 52.28. Smith was also in the semis and ranked 12th in 53.22. The top-eight advanced to Saturday’s final.
Nine women and three men, all of whom represented Canada at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, are at the six-day event. Finals are at 9 a.m. ET each day on CBC digital platforms (CBCSports.ca, CBC Sports App and CBC GEM).
Competition continues through to Tuesday.