KYLIE MASSE

A WORLD RECORD, AND A CANA­DIAN FIRST.

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - CUR­TIS WITHERS

About this time last year, Kylie Masse might not have pic­tured her­self as a world cham­pion and record holder. That all changed at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Still rid­ing the mo­men­tum from the bronze medal she won at the 2016 Games, Masse roared to vic­tory in the 100-me­tre back­stroke in a world-record time Tues­day at the world swim­ming cham­pi­onships in Bu­dapest, Hun­gary. In the process she be­came Canada’s first woman world cham­pion swim­mer.

She hit the wall in a time of 58.10 sec­onds, edg­ing the pre­vi­ous long­course back­stroke record of 58.12 sec­onds set by Bri­tish swim­mer Gemma Spof­forth, at the 2009 world cham­pi­onships in Rome.

“I don’t think it’s re­ally sunk in yet,” Masse said in a con­fer­ence call Tues­day. “I touched the wall and looked back and had to make sure I was look­ing at the right name and the right time. I was just su­per ex­cited. In the mo­ment I don’t even know what I was think­ing — but ex­cite­ment and joy.”

The con­fi­dence gen­er­ated from that medal haul al­lowed Masse to see her­self as a cham­pion.

“Def­i­nitely be­fore the Olympics I wouldn’t have thought that, but af­ter the Olympics I saw that I be­long in the fi­nal and I be­long on the podium, and that all comes with con­fi­dence,” Masse said.

“This en­tire year I felt bet­ter about my rac­ing and that all helped lead­ing up to the cham­pi­onships.”

Kath­leen Baker of the United States was sec­ond in the 100 back­stroke 58.58 sec­onds and Aus­tralia’s Emily See­bohm was third in 59.59.

Masse is the first Cana­dian to hold the 100-me­tre long-course back­stroke record since Wendy Cook in 1974, and the first Cana­dian record holder in any dis­ci­pline since An­na­may Pierce set the 200me­tre long-course breast­stroke record in the semi­fi­nals of the 2009 cham­pi­onships.

Ear­lier, Amer­i­can Katie Ledecky breezed to her third gold medal of the world cham­pi­onships, cap­tur­ing the 1,500-me­tre freestyle by more than half the length of the pool on her most gru­elling night of the meet.

Ledecky touched in 15 min­utes, 31.82 sec­onds — more than six sec­onds off her world-record pace from the cham­pi­onships in Kazan two years ago — clearly con­serv­ing en­ergy for her sec­ond race of the night.

She only had a 49-minute break be­fore re­turn­ing to the pool for the semi­fi­nals of the 200 free.

Hav­ing al­ready won the 400 free and 4x100 free re­lay on the open­ing day of swim­ming, Ledecky stayed on course for a record-ty­ing six golds by a fe­male swim­mer. This was one of the big­gest locks of all, and the 20-year-old was essen­tially just rac­ing her­self as the rest of the field fell far be­hind.

Lilly King of the United States and Bri­tain’s Adam Peaty also broke world records Tues­day.

King eclipsed the four-year-old mark in the 100-me­tre breast­stroke, again beat­ing Rus­sian ri­val Yu­lia Efi­mova with a time of 1:04.13 sec­onds.

Peaty set a pair of marks in the 50 breast­stroke, a non-Olympic event. He went 26.10 in the morn­ing pre­lim­i­nar­ies, shav­ing 0.32 sec­onds off the stan­dard he set two years ago in Kazan. He went even faster dur­ing the evening semi­fi­nals, touch­ing in 25.95.

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