2017 Canadian World Trials: Female Backstroke Thriving


With the backstroke events all wrapped up at Canadian World Trials in Victoria, it’s safe to say the women came to play. After a pair of bronze medals in backstroke last summer at the Olympics, the women topped that performance with not only top-end swims, but incredible depth.

Tonight Kylie Masse and Hilary Caldwell had an incredible 200 back battle, with Masse getting the touch in 2:07.23 to Caldwell’s 2:07.29. Those swims now sit atop the world rankings for the 2016-17 season, over 1.5 seconds clear of 3rd. They were also both faster than Caldwell’s swim last summer that won bronze in Rio.

2016-2017 LCM WOMEN 200 BACK

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Along with the two big guns, there were seven others under 2:13 tonight, including 15-year-old Jade Hannah. That number could’ve easily been ten had Kennedy Goss not just swum the 400 free or if any of Sydney PickremTaylor Ruck or Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson not scratched the event.

We saw this level of depth in the other backstroke events too. In the 50, Masse took over the #1 spot in the world while five others broke 29 seconds, including UBC’s Ingrid Wilm under the FINA ‘A’ standard in 28.40 (though Canada doesn’t use the stroke 50s for World selection).

I think most of us remember what happened in the 100, where Masse scared the world record posting the 3rd fastest swim in history. The swim was over half a second better than she was in the Olympic final and over two tenths better than what Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu went for gold. Behind her there were five other women under 1:01.

With the instant stardom of Penny Oleksiak last summer the Canadian backstrokers have really flown under the radar, but after this weekend you can bet no one will look past them in Budapest. Masse and Caldwell have set themselves up for a potential haul of medals, while the young swimmers continue to develop and get faster.

While the country of about 36.5 million still has some weaknesses, particularly on the men’s side, the depth they boast in female backstroke has become competitive with the best countries in the world. The U.S. is still obviously number one, with five different swimmers under a minute in the 100 at last year’s Olympic Trials, but there’s no doubt the future is bright for female backstroke in Canada.


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About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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