Mac Neil wins Canada’s first medal at worlds
FUKUOKA, Japan – Margaret Mac Neil of London, Ont., won Canada’s first swimming medal at the World Aquatic Championships Monday with the silver in the women’s 100-metre butterfly.
Yufei Zhang of China made a late charge in the final metres to overtake Mac Neil and win the gold in 56.12. The 23-year-old Canadian followed in 56.45 and Torri Huske of the U.S. was third in 56.61.
“Honestly I’m more happy with the placement than the time,’’ said Mac Neil, the event’s Olympic champion in Tokyo and world champion in 2019.
‘’Obviously I would have hoped to be faster. That’s something to work towards for next year, but it’s always good just getting back on the international stage of racing.”
Mac Neil was third at the halfway mark but a spectacular underwater push off the turn put her ahead to set up a dramatic finish.
“It’s a focus for sure but I think so much of it is just natural and easier for me,’’ she said about her amazing turn. ‘’It makes it easier when it comes to doing something like that, but I’m always working on it.”
Last season, Mac Neil did not compete in individual events at the worlds as she focused on her mental and physical health.
“I think it was really important taking the space and being able to be a relay-only swimmer definitely gave me a different perspective on the sport,’’ she said. ‘’Being able to come back and get my confidence up and win my first Commonwealth Games gold medal was another really important step for me. So overall I’m really happy with the decisions that I made. And I’m definitely going towards next year now.”
Masse and Wilm advance to 100-metre backstroke final
Canada will have two finalists in the women’s 100-metre backstroke after Kylie Masse of LaSalle, Ont., and Ingrid Wilm of Calgary ranked fourth and sixth in the semis.
‘’I’m looking forward to racing tomorrow,’’ said Masse, a triple medallist at the 2022 worlds including silver in the 100 back. ‘’It’s an incredible field and I’m looking forward to the challenge.’’
Regan Smith of Team USA was the top qualifier in 58.33, Kaylee McKeown of Australia followed in 58.48 and Katharine Berkoff of Team USA third in 58.60.
Masse finished in 59.06 and Wilm clocked 59.35.
“I’m just excited to have earned a spot,’’ said Wilm. “I just feel lucky that I get the chance this year. I don’t want to jinx myself but I’m just taking it step by step and I’ll do what I can tomorrow night.”
Masse says Mac Neil’s medal is just what the doctor ordered for the Canadian team.
“It’s always amazing to see a Canadian medal,’’ Masse said. ‘’It’s even a greater inspiration to be her friend and have watched her progress through a number of years continuing to achieve medal podiums and great successes in the sport.’’
Personal bests for Finlin and Angus
In the morning preliminaries, Emma Finlin of Edmonton overcame shoulder issues to knock nearly five seconds off her personal best time in the women’s 1,500 freestyle, clocking 16:15.77 to rank 12th.
‘’I’ve been fighting shoulder weaknesses so that kind of got in my head a bit,’’ she said. ‘’I’m pretty happy that I was able to push through that. I was super nervous before so I might have gone out a little bit fast, but I kind of wanted to see what I could do. I had really nothing to lose and the girls were really fast in that heat.”
In the women’s 100 breaststroke, Sophie Angus clocked a personal best 1:07.34 to rank 22nd, about a half second off the 16th place qualifying time for the semis.
“I really wanted to get a second swim so that’s a little bit disappointing,’’ she said. ‘’I think I held my composure a lot better than I did last year and to go a best time in the morning out of an outside lane, I’m happy with that. It’s not everything I wanted but I’ll definitely take it as a good stepping stone. I’m excited to watch the next few days and get ready for the 50 and the relay.”
Javier Acevedo of Toronto, a member of Canada’s fifth-place 4×100 freestyle relay on Sunday night, was 26th in the men’s 100 backstroke.
Viewers can catch the action live via the free CBC Gem steaming service, cbcsports.ca, and the CBC Sports App for iOS and Android devices, and watch broadcast coverage on CBC TV as part of CBC Sports weekend programming throughout the competition.
CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux is in Japan poolside keeping audiences up-to-date on the latest news and posting social videos daily.
Events are being live streamed across CBC Sports digital platforms, with a live swim show hosted by Anastasia Bucsis streaming daily on CBC Gem beginning Sunday for all final events. Finals start at 7 a.m. ET each day.
Senior manager, Communications, Swimming Canada
Gestionnaire supérieur des communications, Natation Canada
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