Masse moving fast but staying grounded
Swimming Canada – GOLD COAST, Australia – Kylie Masse still remembers her first Olympic Trials.
Then a 16-year-old from the Windsor Essex Swim Team, she didn’t have a realistic shot of making the team for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“I finished 99th (in the 100-m backstroke). I was there to watch and just be inspired,” she recalls. “I really looked up to those Olympians at the time. I got my picture with Ryan Cochrane and Julia Wilkinson. Those pictures and those times that I was able to see them race were something that I treasured growing up.”
Fast forward five years, and Masse found herself returning to her hometown of LaSalle, Ont., a hero, with a world record and 2017 FINA World Championships gold medal to go with the Olympic bronze she captured in Rio in 2016. The town held a day in her honour where she met countless kids she hopes she can inspire.
“It’s something that I still can’t wrap my head around sometimes how fast things have gone and how much I’ve done in such a short period of time,” she says. “I know how much of an impact it has on kids when they can meet someone who they look up to. To be that person or role model for younger girls or other swimmers, it means a lot to me.”
Masse – who hadn’t made a senior A national team before Rio – will be looking to climb the next summit in her rapidly ascending swimming career at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, which begin Thursday.
Commonwealth Games Canada’s official hashtag for the Games is #LiveTheMoment – a simple philosophy Masse already applies to stay grounded and focused. Although she knew she was close to the world record last year in Budapest, she didn’t allow herself to think too far ahead.
“Being at world championships, (I was) trying to adjust to everything and handle myself with pressure and expectation, just really trying to stay internal on what I could control and what I could focus on, my own swimming,” she says.
She applies the same attitude to balancing her studies at the University of Toronto, where she’s the reigning athlete of the year and was featured on the cover of MacLean’s University Rankings edition.
“I just try to tell myself to take one day at a time, one step at a time,” Masse says. “Do one thing and move on to the next, try not to get bogged down by how much you have to do or what’s coming up. Just kind of be in the moment and take one day at a time.”
At Commonwealth Games, Masse will be swimming all three backstroke distances – 50, 100 and 200 metres. She set the Canadian record of 2:05.97 in the 200 in her semifinal in Budapest, and she’s increased her training for the longer distance that year. She’ll be joined by the red-hot Taylor Ruck in the 100 and 200, while Olympic medallist Hilary Caldwell will also swim her signature 200 back. World junior medallist Jade Hannah will be looking to make an impact in the two sprints.
“I’m really looking forward to the Commonwealth Games and working on what I’ve been doing all year,” Masse says. “I take every experience I get as a new opportunity and something to learn from. I know in the swimming community there’s always up and coming swimmers getting faster and faster and that’s motivating to me to keep working hard day in and day out and try to improve myself.”
“I think the most important thing to this day is really enjoying what you’re doing. If it’s not something you enjoy, and you’re not having fun with it, then it’s hard to do and kind of like, what’s the point?”
The full team list can be found here: https://www.swimming.ca/en/national-teams/senior-national-teams/commonwealth-games/
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