Kylie Masse won Team Canada’s second gold medal in as many days at the Pan Pacific Championships, claiming the 100m backstroke title in Tokyo.
Masse entered the final as the top seed after swimming a Pan Pacs record 58.29 seconds during the heats. In the star-studded final field, she was second at the turn behind Australian Emily Seebohm.
But Masse pushed herself over the last 50 metres to finish in 58.61 seconds as she got past Seebohm (58.79) and held off American Kathleen Baker (58.83), who just a few weeks ago broke the world record that Masse had set in winning the world title in 2017.
“That’s always the goal for me, I like being able to accelerate in my finish and come into the wall hard with a high stroke rate,” said Masse, who had finished atop the podium with the same duo at the 2017 World Championships.
“It’s always a great race when they’re in there for sure. It’s a great competition and we all push each other. We’re also friendly with each other in the ready room which I think is awesome. It’s awesome for backstroke moving forward to have that kind of competitive rivalry.”
After winning 200m freestyle gold on Thursday, Taylor Ruck added a pair of bronze medals to her haul.
First, she swam a personal best 52.72 seconds in the 100m freestyle – the second-fastest time ever by a Canadian, just 0.02 off Penny Oleksiak‘s gold medal-winning time at Rio 2016. That put her on the podium behind Oleksiak’s co-Olympic champion Simone Manuel (52.66) of the United States and Australian Cate Campbell, who won gold by lowering her own Pan Pacs record to 52.03, the second-fastest time in history.
“That was amazing, I can’t even describe it. It was so cool to be part of that race,” said Ruck. “The first 50 I went out pretty good and smooth and the last 50 I just tried to hang on and tried to race Cate and Simone.”
Ruck then swam the second leg of the 4x200m freestyle relay, teaming with Kayla Sanchez, Rebecca Smith and Mackenzie Padington for a time of 7:47.28. A lifetime best split of 1:56.75 for anchor Padington kept Canada ahead of Japan for the bronze medal. Australia swam a Pan Pacs record 7:44.12 for the gold medal while the United States finished second in 7:44.37. It’s the first time the American women have been defeated in this event in a major international meet since the 2009 World Championships.
Racing continues at the Pan Pacific Championships through Sunday.