Canada’s Kylie Masse wins Olympic silver in women’s 200m backstroke

Swimming·CBC SPORTS IN TOKYO

Kylie Masse won silver in the women's 200-metre backstroke Saturday morning in Tokyo, her second silver medal of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Canada's Kylie Masse celebrates her silver medal in the women's 200m backstroke final Saturday morning in Tokyo.(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Canada's pool party in Tokyo is getting out of hand — in a good way.

Kylie Masse is Canada's latest swimmer to capture a medal, winning a silver in the women's 200-metre backstroke Saturday morning in Tokyo.

It's Masse's second silver medal at these Games and Canada's fifth in the pool. Masse was second in the 100m backstroke earlier this week.

"It feels amazing. I'm incredibly honoured to represent Canada and get on the podium twice," Masse said.

Australia's Kaylee McKeown, who beat Masse for gold in the 100m backstroke four days ago, took the gold again. Her compatriot, Emily Seebohm, won the bronze.

Masse, 25, from LaSalle, Ont., finished with a Canadian-record time of two minutes 5.42 seconds, just behind McKeown who touched first in 2:04.68. Seebholm finished in 2:06.17.

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Masse didn't even qualify to swim this event in Rio, but she has worked tirelessly to add it to her repertoire.

In Saturday's final, Masse blasted out to an early lead and held onto it for the first 150 metres of the race before her Australian rival passed her in the race's final few metres.

"I didn't know where I was," Masse said. "I knew it was going to come down to the last bit and maybe by how I felt, my stroke slowed down a little at the end, but that was the best time for me."

Toronto's Taylor Ruck, 21, was sixth with a time of 2:08.24.

"[Masse] is such a humble and dedicated woman, I look up to her so much. To be able to train with her day in day out is awe-inspiring," Ruck said after the race.

Canada's Brent Hayden, 37, was also in the pool today in the men's 50m freestyle semifinals but narrowly missed qualifying for the final.

Masse poses with her silver medal, her second of the Tokyo Olympics.(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

5 medals for Canadian women so far in pool

For the Canadian women, it's been a remarkable week at the pool with five medals and the opportunity for another one in the women's 4x100m medley relay (live on CBC Saturday at 10:15 p.m. ET.)

"It's so cool. It's all over the news at home," Masse said of the team's success. "To be surrounded by so many dedicated and successful athletes and for them to all be female, it's so empowering and so special.

"Hopefully it's inspirational to kids in sport and all aspects of their lives that they can achieve anything they want as long as they work hard, stick to their process and enjoy it."

To be surrounded by so many dedicated and successful athletes and for them to all be female, it's so empowering and so special.

– Kylie Masse on success of Canada's swimmers

Most athletes competing in Tokyo had to overcome a number of challenges in order to train and be prepared for these Games. Canadian athletes spent much of the last year locked down and unable to train at the level they are used to. At the same time many others, including the Australian swimmers, have mostly been in the pool the whole time, never really missing a beat because of COVID.

The restrictions forced Masse to completely depart from her familiar routine.

For years she had trained in downtown Toronto at the University of Toronto's pool, a short 10-minute walk from her home. But with that pool shuttered because of COVID restrictions, Masse decided to buy her first car and started making the 90-minute commute to the Pan Am Centre, where many of her Olympic teammates were already training.

"I never would have guessed in a million years that I would make that change in an Olympic year," Masse said. "It was a lot. You don't want to make those sorts of changes going into an Olympics."

But it has all seemed to work.

Weeks before traveling to these Tokyo Games, Masse was very clear what her goals were here.

"I want to go a personal best," she told CBC Sports. "I want to be the fastest I've ever been and I'll be extremely happy if that happens."

So far, so good.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jamie Strashin is a native Torontonian whose latest stop is the CBC Sports department. Before, he spent 15 years covering everything from city hall to courts and breaking news as a reporter for CBC News. He has also worked in Brandon, Man., and Calgary. Follow him on Twitter @StrashinCBC

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