VICTORIA – Kylie Masse has looked up to Hilary Caldwell most of her career. But that didn’t stop Masse from upsetting Caldwell in the women’s 200-metre backstroke Saturday night at the 2017 Team Canada Trials.
Masse, of Windsor, Ont., overtook the Olympic bronze medallist Caldwell in the final few metres to win in two minutes, 7.23 seconds. Caldwell was just .06 behind. They were the two fastest times at that distance this season and well under the FINA time to qualify for this summer’s world championships.
“It’s incredible,” said Masse, who swims for the Windsor-Essex Swim Team.
“She’s someone I’ve looked up to in the backstroke for a long time now. It’s really cool to be racing side-by-side with her.”
Thursday Masse posted the third fastest time ever in the 100-m backstroke, her bronze medal event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She added a 2017 world best to win the 50 Friday, and completed the sweep Saturday.
Caldwell said she didn’t see Masse gaining ground on her during the race.
“I couldn’t see her at all in the last 50 metres,” said the White Rock, B.C., native who trains at the High Performance Centre – Victoria. “I need to work on my peripheral vision apparently.
“I’m really pleased with the time. It’s the best I’ve ever been at this time of year. I wanted to be a few hundredths faster but I can’t be too mad.”
Earlier this week Caldwell earned a nomination for the world championship team in the 100-m backstroke.
MacKenzie Glover of Winnipeg, who swims for the University of Manitoba Bisons, was third in 2:11.17. Olympian Dominique Bouchard was fourth in 2:11.24, also under the standard, but with just two spots per event available.
“The women’s 200-m backstroke saw world class performances from both Kylie and Hilary tonight. It’s great to see them push each other in that event.” said Swimming Canada’s High Performance Director John Atkinson.
In another exciting race, Penny Oleksiak of Toronto caught Katerine Savard of Pont-Rouge, Que., in the final 25 metres to win the 100-m butterfly in 57.35 seconds. Savard, who was swimming with a suit she ripped during her starting dive, finished in 58.27. Both women were under the qualifying time of 58.48.
“It’s good to have people I can chase,” said Oleksiak, who trains at the High Performance Centre – Ontario, and won a silver medal in the event at the Rio Summer Olympics. “That’s when I do my best racing, when I can chase someone at the beginning and then try to come home at the end.”
The race was a sort of redemption for Savard, who failed to qualify in the 100 fly for Rio.
Savard, who swims for CAMO, said racing against fellow Olympic medallist Oleksiak helps her performance.
“It pushes me to go faster,” she said. “She was on the podium last summer, so I know she’s really fast.
“If I want to be in the game, I have to try to follow her.”
Rebecca Smith of Red Deer, Alta., who also trains at the HPC – Ontario, was third in 58.64.
Savard previously qualified in the 200-m freestyle and Oleksiak in the 100 free.
The trials, which end Sunday, have attracted over 400 swimmers to Saanich Commonwealth Place looking to earn a spot on the Canadian team which will compete at the FINA World Championships July 14-30 in Budapest, Hungary.
To qualify for individual events at the world championships swimmers must finish in the top two in their races and be under the FINA A qualifying time.
The evening got off to an exciting start with Mackenzie Padington holding off a late challenge by Olympic medallist Kennedy Goss to win the women’s 400-m freestyle. Padington, who swims for Island Swimming Club, thrilled the hometown crowd by winning in 4:09.04, which is 1.53 under the FINA qualifying time.
“I’m so shocked,” said the 18-year-old from Campbell River, B.C. “It’s so great having everyone cheer you on. Even if they don’t know (me) they were cheering for me.
“I wasn’t expecting this. It sets me up great. I have literally no words.”
Goss of Toronto, who swims for the Granite Gators, was second in 4:10.80, just missing the qualifying time. Danica Ludlow of Prince George, B.C., who swims for the University of Calgary, was third in 4:11.39.
Jeremy Bagshaw of Victoria, who represents Island Swimming, won the men’s 400-m freestyle in 3:50.27 but was 2.12 seconds over the qualifying time. Peter Brothers of Victoria, who swims for the University of Calgary Swim Club, was second in 3:52.90 while Colin Gilbert of Kamloops, B.C., was third in 3:53.23.
Rob Hill, who swims for the Chena Swim Club, won the men’s 200-m backstroke in 2:00.12 but failed to break the qualifying time. Tim Zeng of North Vancouver, who also swims for Chena, was second in 2:00.95 while Javier Acevedo of Scarborough, Ont., representing the Ajax Aquatic Club, was third in 2:01.02.
Josiah Binnema of Prince George, B.C., who swims for the Edmonton Keyano Swim Club, won the men’s 100-m fly in 52.90. Mack Darragh of Toronto, who swims for the Oakville Aquatic Club, was second in 53.65 while Alexandre Perreault of the Ottawa Swim Club was third in 53.71.
The men’s and women’s 50-m breaststroke are not selection races for the world championships.
Rachel Nicol of Lethbridge, Alta., swimming for the LA Swim Club, won the women’s race in 31.19 while Edmonton’s Richard Funk, representing the Toronto Swim Club, led the men in 27.73. Both have already qualified in the 100-m distance.