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Masse sets world record, becomes Canada’s first female world champion

BUDAPEST, Hungary – It was an historic night for Kylie Masse as she set a world record in the 100-m backstroke at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary Tuesday.

The 21-year-old from Windsor, Ont., stopped the clock in 58.10 to win gold and break the mark of 58.12 held by Gemma Spofforth of Great Britain since 2009, the height of the tech suit era. Masse beat Kathleen Baker of USA (58.58) and Australian Emily Seebohm (58.59) to become Canada’s first ever female world champion in swimming.

“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” Masse said. “I touched the wall, I looked back and I had to make sure I as looking at the right name and the right time. I was just super excited in the moment.”

Masse earned a bronze medal in the distance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where she set a Canadian record. She lowered twice earlier this year, becoming the world’s third fastest in history at Canadian Swimming Trials in April, then swimming faster again in Monday’s semifinal before breaking the world mark Tuesday.

“After the Olympics I just gained a lot more confidence in myself and experience,” said Masse, whose parents were in attendance in Budapest to watch her remarkable feat. “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.”

The swim is Canada’s first world record since Annamay Pierse set the women’s 200-m breaststroke mark in 2009. Masse is the third Canadian to hold the women’s 100-m backstroke world record and first since 1974, joining Wendy Cook and Elaine Tanner (twice in 1967).

Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson was thrilled to witness Canada’s first world record since he took the helm in early 2013.

“Fantastic performance tonight from Kylie Masse. Gold medal and world record – these things don’t happen often. It’s fantastic,” Atkinson said. “She’s done a great job. Her coaches Linda Kiefer and Byron MacDonald at the University of Toronto have done a tremendous job with her.”

Masse returns to the pool Wednesday for the 50-m backstroke as the FINA World Championships run through Sunday. Finals begin at 11:30 am ET each day and will be streamed live by CBC in English at and in French on Radio-Canada Sports Facebook Live.

Canada had three other women in action on Day 3, highlighted by Kierra Smith of Kelowna, B.C. Smith finished sixth with a time of 1:06.90 in the 100-m breaststroke final, her first ever international final in the distance. She will return to the pool Thursday for the 200-m breaststroke, in which she finished seventh at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Meanwhile, Mary-Sophie Harvey of Trois- Rivières, Que., (1:58.15) and Katerine Savard of Pont-Rouge, Que., (1:58.46) finished 14th and 15th in the women’s 200-m freestyle.

Full results are available at

Story and Photo from Swimming Canada |