The surge of Canadian prominence continued on Tuesday night as Kylie Masse retained her title in the 100 backstroke at the World Championships, rallying from fourth at the midway point to grab the gold medal in 58.60. Masse’s medal raised Canada’s count to four, and complemented the surprise victory of teammate Maggie MacNeil in the 100 butterfly from Monday night.
Masse had some room to make up down the second lap but stayed smooth with her stroke and gradually pulled into the lead and held off Australia’s Minna Atherton (58.85) and the United States’ Olivia Smoliga (58.91). Canada’s Taylor Ruck just missed the podium, finishing fourth in 58.96.
The first three days of competition have been nothing short of exceptional for Canada, which has watched its women’s program consistently progress over the past few years. As recently as the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the Canadian women were shut out of the medals. A year later, at the World Championships in Barcelona, a bronze medal from Hilary Caldwell in the 200 backstroke was all Canada could muster, with the World Champs of 2015 also producing just one medal.
Fortunes began to change, however, at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where Masse and Penny Oleksiak stepped forward to lead a new generation of Canadian women. Since that roll started in South America, it hasn’t stopped, and Canada has established itself as a consistent player on the global stage.