Kylie Masse won gold in the 100m backstroke at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest on Tuesday, breaking the longest-standing women’s world record in the process.
Canada’s first ever female world champion in swimming, Masse’s winning time of 58.10 seconds took two one-hundredths (0.02) off the previous mark held by Great Britain’s Gemma Spofforth since the 2009 World Championships. That record came in the so-called “super-suit” era when swimmers were permitted to wear rubberized suits which helped in buoyancy and reducing drag. Those suits were banned in 2010, putting swimmers back into textile fabrics which returned importance to training and technique.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” Masse was quoted by Swimming Canada. “I touched the wall, I looked back and I had to make sure I was looking at the right name and the right time. I was just super excited in the moment.”
Masse, who won Olympic bronze in the 100m backstroke at Rio 2016, had lowered her own Canadian record to 58.18 seconds in the semifinals to be the fastest qualifier for the final. Being just 0.06 off the world record on Monday prompted much speculation that she would be able to break that mark in the final.
Masse had been in third place at the midway mark of the race, but made up that ground and then some in the last 50m. Silver went to American Kathleen Baker (58.58) with defending world champion Emily Seebohm of Australia taking bronze (58.59).
“After the Olympics I just gained a lot more confidence in myself and experience,” said Masse, who was making her debut at the FINA World Championships. “I gained a lot from just doing that routine for a week, doing prelims, semis and finals. All that experience really helps and makes you feel more confident.”
“After the Olympics I really saw that I belong in the final and I belong on the podium, so I think that all comes with confidence and this entire year I felt better about my racing.”
Masse is the first Canadian swimmer to hold a world record since Annamay Pierse set the global standard in the 200m breaststroke at the 2009 Worlds. She is Canada’s first 100m backstroke world record holder since Wendy Cook in 1974, who came after Elaine Tanner who had set the mark twice in 1967.