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McIntosh and Masse Win Gold to Highlight Historic Night at Worlds

BUDAPEST, Hungary – Summer McIntosh and Kylie Masse each won gold for Canada on Wednesday while Joshua Liendo and the women’s 4×200-m freestyle relay notched bronze at the FINA World Swimming Championships.

It is the first time Canada has won two gold on the same day at worlds. The Canadian swimming team more than doubled its medal count moving from three to seven (two gold, three silver and two bronze.)

In the women’s 200-m butterfly, the 15-year-old McIntosh took control of the race at the end of the third length and soared to the gold in 2:05.20. The time is a Canadian record, world junior record and the fastest time this year.

She is Canada’s youngest world champion, breaking the record held by Victor Davis who was 18 years when he won the men’s 200-m breaststroke in 1982.

Hali Flickinger of the U.S. earned the silver in 2:06.08 and Yufei Zhang of China was third in 2:06.32.

‘’The first 50 and second 100, I definitely pushed it a little bit,’’ said McIntosh, of Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centre – Ontario, savoring her first career world crown and second medal this week. ‘’I didn’t really think much until the last 50. I just gave it my all to put all my energy and all my focus to get my hands on the wall as fast as I possibly could.’’

McIntosh is the first Canadian to reach the podium in the 200-m butterfly at worlds.

‘’It’s one of my biggest dreams to be world champion,’’ said McIntosh, a member of the Olympic team last summer. ‘’And especially in the 200 fly is something I always wanted to do because it is one of my favorite events.’’

‘’Summer, working with her coach Ryan Mallette, has done a fantastic job to prepare for these world championships,’’ said John Atkinson, Swimming Canada’s Director, High Performance and National Coach

‘’She’s a very driven, organized young woman who swims a wide range of events. I think this is the start of people getting to know who she is and she’s got some more races this week.’’

Masse appeared to be slightly behind approaching the wall in the 50-m backstroke, but a late surge put her first in 27.31 seconds.

The HPC-Ontario swimmer is Canada’s first three-time world champion. She took the 100 back in 2017 and 2019. American swimmers Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel are the only others to win gold at the last three worlds.

Katharine Berkoff of the U.S. was second in 27.39 and Analia Pigree of France third in 27.40.

‘’It’s pretty surreal,’’ said Masse, a silver medallist Monday in the 100 back and now with seven career world championship medals. ‘’I’ve watched my 50 progress over the last couple of years. I’ve gained a lot of strength and worked a lot on my speed. I couldn’t ask for anything more to get on the podium.

‘’I’m really stoked.’’

It is Canada’s first medal in the 50 back at worlds.

Ingrid Wilm of Calgary was fourth in 27.43 in her career debut at these championships.

‘’I had a horrible touch,’’ said Wilm, who set personal bests in her prelim (27.55) and semi (27.39). ‘’I know I can do better than that. You have good days and bad days.’’

In the men’s 100-m freestyle, David Popovici of Romania was the victor in 47.58. Maxime Grousset of France took silver in 47.64 and Liendo collected his first long-course worlds medal placing third in 47.71.

Liendo, based at HPC-Ontario, was first at the turn with a 22.53 clocking.

‘’In a race like that you’re so close to everyone, you want a little bit more I’m not going to lie,’’ said Liendo, 19, with Canada’s first medal in the event since Brent Hayden’s silver in 2011. ‘’I swam the first 50 a little better. Obviously the last 50 was a fight and it came down to the wire.’’

Liendo is the first Black Canadian to win a medal at the long-course worlds.

In the women’s 4×200-m freestyle relay, the U.S. set a championship record winning in 7:41.75. Australia was second in 7:43.86 and the Canadians followed in 7:44.76.

Swimming for Canada in the final were McIntosh, Kayla Sanchez, Taylor Ruck and Penny Oleksiak. In the prelims, the line-up also included Mary-Sophie Harvey, Katerine Savard and Rebecca Smith along with Ruck. They’ll also get a medal.

‘’It was fun to be a part of,’’ said Oleksiak, the team’s anchor. ‘’It was a tough double for me but having the girls really helped.’’

“Penny is a great young woman on the team who now knows what she wants to go after and what she wants to achieve,” Atkinson said. “She’s been critical on the two relays and she’s got the 100 freestyle final coming up tomorrow night as well.”

McIntosh’s lead-off time of 1:54.79 is also a world junior record for the 200 free.

‘’We really feed off each other’s energy,’’ she said. ‘’I’m really proud of this entire team, how we executed it and how we gave it our all. To get the time for myself is a double bonus.’’

McIntosh compartmentalized her two evening finals.

‘’I don’t still realize what I just did,’’ she said. ‘’It feels like two different nights. I really tried to separate the two and focus on them individually.’’

Two Canadians advanced to the women’s 100-m freestyle final. In Wednesday night’s semis, Oleksiak and Sanchez, both of HPC-Ontario, ranked fourth and sixth in 53.18 and 53.61.

Sanchez reached her first individual final in three world championship appearances.

‘’I was really excited about this semi,’’ said Sanchez. ‘’My goal was to lift from prelims and qualify for the final. There’s definitely more to come.’’

Kelsey Wog of Winnipeg qualified fifth for the women’s 200-m breaststroke final. She clocked 2:23.82 in her semi and was the fastest in prelims at 2:24.37.

“I told myself not to look at the times in the semifinal before me,’’ said Wog. ‘’I focused on myself and I’m really proud of the race I executed. It was my best international time and I look forward to building on that for the final.’’

Eliminated in morning preliminaries were Richie Stokes of Calgary, 17th in the 200-m backstroke in 1:59.86, and James Dergousoff of Christina Lake, B.C., 23rd in the 200-m breaststroke in 2:13.89.

‘’We have a team culture that we’ve been building for 10 years,’’ Atkinson said of arguably Canada’s most successful day ever at worlds. ‘’Everybody has an important role to play on the team and we work together.

“At any major Games or championships you’re going to have highs and lows. We support each other and we have a great team culture that keeps it going,” he added. “It’s an eight-day meet, and everybody is focused on what they need to do for preparation and recovery. Everyone is on their own path to get to that performance and we support each other as a team.”

Action continues for the 27 Canadian pool swimmers until next Saturday with preliminary heats at 3 a.m. ET / 12 a.m. PT. Finals start at 12p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT daily. All finals will be livestreamed on CBC Sports digital platforms: the free CBC Gem streaming service, cbcsports.ca, and the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices.

The world championships run through July 3, with open water swimming to follow the pool competition. Canada won eight medals in the pool (2 gold, six bronze) and one (bronze) in open water at the 2019 edition of the event in Gwangju, South Korea.

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Photo and story courtesy of Swimming Canada Natation.