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FEMALE BREAKOUT SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: KYLIE MASSE
Canadian backstroke star Kylie Masse has made huge strides over the past couple of seasons, but 2017 saw her make a major breakthrough. After establishing herself as a top contender with an Olympic medal in 2016, Masse began to tow the World Record line in 2017. In April, she posted a blistering 58.21 to set a new Canadian Record and the 3rd fastest performance of all time in the event. She was just hundredths shy of the World Record, which stood at a 58.12 at the time, and would only get faster from there.
At the 2017 FINA World Championships, Masse stepped up to take another swing at the record. She came extremely close with a 58.18 in the semifinals. In the final, she finally hit the mark to win gold in 58.10, taking down the longest standing women’s World Record. With that, she became the first Canadian female to win a World Championships gold medal. She also became the first Canadian to win a Worlds gold in any discipline since Brent Hayden tied for 100 free gold in 2007.
That wasn’t Masse’s only record-breaking swim of the meet, however, as she broke the Canadian 200 back record with a 2:05.97 in the semis before going on to place 5th in the final. She clipped her own Canadian Record in the 50 back semifinals to place 10th. Masse picked up a bronze medal as a member of Canada’s mixed 4×100 medley relay.
- Mallory Comerford (USA)- 2017 saw Comerford’s big breakthrough in the long course pool and continued improvements in the short course pool. During the NCAA season, Comerford turned heads when she ran down Ledecky in the 200 free to tie for the national collegiate (NCAA) title, becoming the 2nd fastest swimmer ever in the event. She also became the 7th fastest swimmer ever in the 100 yard free. During the long course season, she qualified for her first World Championships team, breaking the American Record in the 100 free (though it was later broken again by Manuel) as she lead off the American women’s 400 free relay that broke the American Record. She won gold in that relay, the women’s 800 free relay, and the mixed 400 free relay. Individually, she placed 4th in the 100 free and missed the Worlds podium by hundredths.