BUDAPEST, Hungary – Kylie Masse and Summer McIntosh are heading to finals as the number-one seeds after a set of sizzling semis by Canadian swimmers on Tuesday at the FINA World Championships.
Ingrid Wilm and Joshua Liendo also served notice they could contend for the podium in Wednesday’s finals after lowering their personal best times.
Meanwhile Taylor Ruck showed a return to form with a sixth-place finish in the women’s 200-m freestyle final in Budapest, Hungary.
The 15-year-old McIntosh, based at Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centre -Ontario, continued to amaze, lowering her Canadian 200-metre butterfly record to 2:05.79, also a world junior record and the world’s fastest time this year.
She’ll chase her second medal of the meet on Wednesday after earning silver in the 400-metre freestyle on Saturday, one of three medals for Canada so far. Her swim Tuesday came shortly after Hungary’s Kristof Milak thrilled the home crowd with a world record 1:50.34 to win the men’s 200 fly.
‘’I didn’t expect to go 2:05 tonight,’’ said McIntosh, who burst on the international stage at last year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with a fourth in the 400 free. ‘’But as soon as I stepped out with all the energy and excitement from the crowd, I just fed off that. I got a lot of adrenaline and motivation and put it down tonight.’’
Two Americans ranked behind McIntosh with Hali Flickinger second in 2:05.90 and Regan Smith third in 2:07.13.
Masse, also from HPC-Ontario, posted the fastest time in the women’s 50-m backstroke preliminaries and semifinals clocking 27.26 seconds then 27.22 in the evening. That’s just 0.04 seconds off her Canadian record set this past April at trials.
She was pleased to deliver such strong performances after her silver medal performance on Monday in the 100-m backstroke. Analia Pigree of France and Regan Smith of the U.S. tied for second in 27.29, while Ingrid Wilm of Calgary ranked fourth in a personal best 27.39.
‘’It’s such a process and a step-by-step in order to perform, recover properly and set yourself up for the next day,’’ said Masse, tied with Penny Oleksiak for most medals all time at the long-course FINA World Championships with six.
‘’I think just over the last couple of years I’ve learned how to hone in on what I need to do, minimize the distractions and minimize the energy that I’m spending on other things so that I can perform to the best of my ability the next day.’’
Wilm, 24, made a strong long-course worlds debut ranking third in prelims with a personal best 27.55, then going faster in her semi.
‘’I’m happy to finally be 27 low,’’ said the swimmer from Calgary’s Cascade Swim Club. ‘’Before this year I hadn’t even cracked 28. I am hoping to get the momentum going. I believe Kylie will easily be able to go a 26 and I’m genuinely just hoping to be able to follow her into that barrier.’’
Meanwhile Liendo of HPC-Ontario cracked the 48 second barrier for the second time this meet with a personal best 47.55 to rank third for Wednesday’s final, faster than his leadoff leg of 47.89 from Sunday’s 4×100 free relay final.
‘’That felt way better than this morning,’’ said Liendo, a 2020 Olympian. ‘’I executed that race a lot better. I was honestly surprised how that felt so I’m excited. It didn’t feel like I went out as fast.”
David Popovici of Romania was the top qualifier in a world junior record 47.13, followed by Maxime Grousset at 47.54.
Liendo’s time was 0.28 off Brent Hayden’s national mark which has stood since 2009 in the fast suit era.
‘’It’s in the back of my mind,’’ he said about the record. ‘’I’ve looked at it a couple times. I know it’s a fast time in a super suit, but it’s going to take faster than that time to win it, so we’ll see.’’
Ruslan Gaziev of Toronto, who clocked a 48.49 in prelims, was 16th in the semi in 49.00 and did not advance.
‘’Obviously I’m not happy with it but it is what it is,’’ said Gaziev, who went 48.41 to make the team at Canadian Swimming Trials in April. ‘’I’ve got to learn from those swims. Sometimes it just doesn’t go in your favour.’’
In the women’s 200-metre freestyle final, HPC-Ontario’s Ruck reclaimed some territory, tying for sixth place in 1:57.24 with France’s Charlotte Bonney.
Ruck was fourth in the event at the last worlds in 2019 but missed the final by one spot at the Tokyo Olympics.
‘’I was very excited for this race,’’ said Ruck, 22. ‘’I did the best I could and I’m going to use this as a building block.’’
Junxuan Wang of China won the gold medal in 1:54.92, Mollie O’Callaghan of Australia was second in 1:55.22 and Muhan Tang of China third in 1:56.25.
Ruck, who ranked 14th in the preliminaries and sixth in the semis on Monday, was second after the second and third splits in the final.
‘’I need to close out that last 50 better and not get so overcome with emotion,’’ added Ruck. ‘’It was really tough especially with the girl next to me really hammering.’’
In the preliminaries, Canada was 11th in the mixed 4×100-m freestyle relay with Javier Acevedo, Rachel Nicol, Katerine Savard and Yuri Kisil.
Finlay Knox of Okotoks, Alta., was 17th in the men’s 200-m individual medley preliminaries in 1:59.60, missing a berth in the semis by 0.07 seconds.
Action continues for the 27 Canadian pool swimmers until next Saturday with preliminary heats at 3 a.m. ET / 12 a.m. PT. Finals start at 12p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT daily. All finals will be livestreamed on CBC Sports digital platforms: the free CBC Gem streaming service, cbcsports.ca, and the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices.
The world championships run through July 3, with open water swimming to follow the pool competition. Canada won eight medals in the pool (2 gold, six bronze) and one (bronze) in open water at the 2019 edition of the event in Gwangju, South Korea.
Full results: Competition Schedule | FINA Official