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TOKYO –  Considering the talent she faced Kylie Masse wasn’t surprised a fingertip was the difference.

Masse (HPC-Ontario/LaSalle, Ont.) was out touched at the wall by Australia’s Kaylee McKeown to take the silver medal in the 100-metre backstroke at the Tokyo Olympic Games Tuesday morning (Monday night in Canada).

The two-time world champion finished in 57.72 seconds. McKeown took gold in an Olympic record time of 57.47. She also holds the world record of 57.45 seconds.

American Regan Smith was third in 58.05.

“I knew it was going to be a challenging race with so many incredibly talented women and such a deep field,” said Masse, a former world record holder who won bronze in the event at the 2016 Rio Games.

“It’s nice I’ve upgraded to a silver. I’m really happy to have gotten a hand on the wall in second place.”

It was the third swimming medal won by Canadian women.

Maggie Mac Neil (London Aquatic Club/London. Ont.) won gold in the 100-metre butterfly while the women’s 4×100-m freestyle relay team took silver.

“A lot of the women I’m able to train with,” said Masse, 25. “Seeing them put in the work every day and having the results come through, after such a tough year, is really inspiring.”

Masse led after 50 metres then battled McKeown down the stretch.

“I know how crucial those last 10 metres are,” said Masse. “I was just trying to get my hand against the wall as fast as possible.”

John Atkinson, Swimming Canada’s high performance director and national coach, pointed out Masse has dominated the 100-m backstroke. Since winning gold at the 2015 FISU Games she has earned Olympic bronze, plus gold at the 2017 and 2019 world championships and the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships and Commonwealth Games.

“That’s impressive to be at this level for seven years,” said Atkinson. “It shows reliability, commitment and class.”

Atkinson also gave credit to Linda Kiefer and Bryon MacDonald who coached Masse at the University of Toronto before COVID-19 forced her to move to the High Performance Centre – Ontario where she has worked with Ben Titley.

“Our performances here so far are an inspiration to all our athletes and role models to swimmers in clubs,” said Atkinson.

In other results, Penny Oleksiak (HPC-Ontario/Toronto) will have a  chance to add to her medal collection by advancing to the final of the 200-m freestyle. The 21-year-old, who swam the anchor leg on silver-medal relay team, finished fourth in her semifinal heat in a time of one minute, 56.39 seconds. She takes the sixth fastest time into the final.

Oleksiak said she’s still adapting to the semifinals and finals being held in the morning in Tokyo.

“It’s definitely an adjustment,” said Oleksiak, who won four medals in Rio. “I honestly thought I was ninth so I’m happy to be in the finals. I’m excited to swim.”

Oleksiak said it’s good to be back at the Olympics.

“I like stepping up to the occasion,” she said. “Being able to step on the world stage when everyone is watching is always exciting. I just love being here.”

A podium finish will give Oleksiak a Team Canada record sixth career Olympic Games medals.

Summer McIntosh (HPC-Ontario)/Toronto), the 14-year-old who finished fourth in the 400-m freestyle, just missed advancing to the 200-m final. Her semifinal time of 1:56.82 left her ninth.

Three-time world championship medallist Sydney Pickrem (HPC-Ontario/Toronto) advanced to the finals of the women’s 200-m individual medley. She finished fourth in her heat in 2:09.94 and takes the sixth fastest time into the final Wednesday morning in Tokyo (Tuesday evening in Canada).

“It’s another step in the process,” said Pickrem. “You want to go good, better best.

“Yesterday I wasn’t really checked in. I got more checked in but also, it’s a semifinal swim. Tomorrow should be good.”

Katrina Bellio (Etobicoke Swimming/Mississauga, Ont.) made some history in her Olympic debut, competing in the first-ever women’s 1500-m freestyle race at the Games. The 16-year-old swam 16:24.37 to knock five seconds off her personal best. She won the opening heat and briefly held the Olympic record but finished 21st overall.

“It’s a great feeling to be part of history,” said Bellio. “To be swimming at the Olympics at such a young age is incredible.”

Full schedule and results:

Crédit photo: Natation Canada/Ian MacNicol:

Nathan White ネイサン・ホワイト
Senior manager, Communications, Swimming Canada
Gestionnaire supérieur des communications, Natation Canada
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