Canadian Kylie Masse captures silver in 100-metre backstroke

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TOKYO — Canadian Kylie Masse captured silver on Tuesday in the women's 100-metre backstroke at the Tokyo Olympics. 

The two-time world champion in the event finished in 57.72 seconds, behind Australia's Kaylee McKeown (57.47), who set a new Olympic record for the gold. American Regan Smith (58.05) took bronze. 

"I knew it was an incredibly challenging and talented field of backstrokers that have been swimming crazy-fast this whole year, so I knew it was going to be a battle," said Masse. 

"All I was trying to focus on was myself. I'm proud of myself to get on the podium tonight."

Masse, a 25-year-old from LaSalle, Ont., was in the lead at the 50-metre turn before McKeown came on strong in the end. 

The women's swim team has generated three medals in the first three days of racing starting with a silver in the freestyle relay and followed by Maggie Mac Neil's victory in 100-metre butterfly.

Masse (pronounced Moss) tied for Olympic bronze with China's Fu Yuanhui in Rio in 2016. 

"I'm happy with it. I upgraded from 2016, so I'm really happy with that," said Masse.

The only other women in the world to win multiple career medals in 100 backstroke are American Natalie Coughlin, Krisztina Egerszegi of Hungary and Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe. 

Canada's Mark Tewksbury won men's 100 backstroke gold in 1992. 

Masse's home pool is at the University of Toronto but, with it closed for much of the COVID-19 pandemic, she relocated to Toronto's Pan Am Sports Centre last year. 

When the first wave of the pandemic shut down all pools for weeks in the spring of 2020, Masse got into a harness and tethered herself to a fence so she could swim in place in her parents' backyard pool.

Masse posted the second-fastest semifinal time in Tokyo. She briefly held the Olympic record before it was lowered by Smith. 

"I went the second-fastest time that I've ever gone and I have to be happy with that," she said. 

"I'm proud of that in an an Olympic final. After such a crazy year, I don't think you can be too hard on yourself."

Masse claimed world titles in the 100 backstroke in 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea and in 2017 in Budapest. Masse also earned 200 backstroke bronze in Gwangju. 

The 200 backstroke final is Saturday. She'll also race in Sunday's individual medley relay. 

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