RIO – Kylie Masse of LaSalle, Ont., earned Canada’s third podium finish in swimming on Monday night at the Olympic Games tying for the bronze medal spot in the women’s 100-m backstroke with Yuanhui Fu of China.
Masse lowered her Canadian record to 58.76 eclipsing the 59.06 she clocked at the Olympic trials in April.
‘’I knew it was a tight race going into the last length,’’ said Masse, 20, fourth at the 50-m turn. ‘’We were all so close in the preliminaries and semis and I knew it was going to come down to the final touch.’’
Katinka Hosszu of Hungary took the gold in 58.45 and Kathleen Baker of the U.S. the silver in 58.75 just 0.01 ahead of Masse and Fu.
‘’It’s definitely a dream come true to be at the Olympics,’’ said Masse. ‘’I knew it was going to be a different experience here. I kind of just had to take it all in but at the same time focus on my race.’’
Masse was Canada’s female university athlete of the year for 2015-16 swimming for the University of Toronto. This year she trained with Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centre-Ontario once or twice a week as well.
‘’Her coaches Linda Kiefer and Byron MacDonald have done a great job developing her talents over the last couple of years,’’ said Swimming Canada’s high performance director John Atkinson.
In the women’s 100-m breaststroke, Lilly King of the U.S. clocked an Olympic Games record 1:04.93 for the gold. Yulia Efimova of Russia was second in 1:05.50 and Katie Meili of the U.S. third in 1:05.69.
Rachel Nicol of Lethbridge, AB, went from 11th in the prelims to eighth in the semis and fifth in the final clocking 1:06.68.
‘’This was Rachel’s first Olympic final and she produced a tremendous performance,’’ said Atkinson adding she only came onto the senior national team at the Pan Am Games last year. ‘’It’s a credit to her coaches and herself as well.’’
In the women’s 200-individual medley, Sydney Pickrem of Halifax gained a berth in Tuesday night’s final posting the seventh best time overall in the semis clocking 2:10.57. Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson of Ottawa was 14th and does not advance.
Pickrem is Canada’s eighth finalist so far at the Games surpassing the seven total achieved in London in 2012.
In the women’s 200-m freestyle semifinals, Brittany MacLean of Etobicoke and Katerine Savard of Pont-Rouge, Que., were 10th and 15thoverall and do not advance.
Savard, a butterfly specialist, improved her personal best by a second in the preliminaries but couldn’t duplicate that feat in the semis.
‘’I gave everything I had,’’ said Savard, competing at her second Olympics. ‘’I’m excited about the best time in the morning and about our potential for the 4X200-m freestyle relay later this week.’’
Canadian swimmers now have a silver and two bronze so far at the Games which equals the swimming medal count (two in the pool and one in open water) from London.
On Saturday, the women’s 4X100 freestyle relay with Sandrine Mainville of Boucherville, Que., Chantal Van Landeghem of Winnipeg, Taylor Ruck of Kelowna, B.C., and Penny Oleksiak of Toronto took the bronze. On Sunday night the 16-year-old Oleksiak added a silver in the 100-m butterfly.
‘’FROM THE PERFORMANCES LIKE THE RELAY AND PENNY LAST NIGHT, EVERYONE’S JUST BEEN PERFORMING SO WELL,’’ SAID MASSE. ‘’NOT JUST IN THE POOL BUT THE OTHER CANADIAN ATHLETES HAVE BEEN SO INSPIRING AND GIVE ALL THE ATHLETES HOPE.’’
Atkinson says the game plan is being followed to a tee so far.
‘’We just keep doing the things as a team we’ve been planning to do and do them well,’’ he said. ‘’The way the coaches are getting the athletes ready and the sports staff is looking after the team is first class and we just have to keep doing the same thing.’’
On tap Tuesday afternoon for Canada in men’s preliminaries are Santo Condorelli of Kenora, Ont., and Yuri Kisil of Calgary in the 100-m freestyle and Ashton Baumann of Ottawa in the 200-m breaststroke. Condorelli was fourth at the world championships last year.
Audrey Lacroix of Pont-Rouge races in the women’s 200-m butterfly.
The preliminaries are at noon (EDT) and the finals at 9 p.m.