Kylie Masse Becomes First Woman To Repeat In 100 Back Since 1975


Kylie Masse successfully defended her World Championship title in the women’s 100 backstroke on day three in Gwangju, winning the final in a time of 58.60.

In doing so, the 23-year-old Canadian becomes just the second woman in history to win back-to-back titles in the event.

Ulrike Richter, who won gold at the inaugural World Aquatics Championships in 1973, repeated as champion in 1975. Since then, only Natalie Coughlin had managed to win multiple titles in the event, but they came six years apart (2001 and 2007).

Despite falling half a second shy of her personal best time from 2017, just getting back on the top of the podium was enough to make the University of Toronto product satisfied with her performance.

‘’It’s an incredible feeling,’’ said Masse, who trains at U of T under Linda Kiefer and Byron MacDonald. ‘’That was definitely one of my goals coming in here. I’m really happy with that. I couldn’t ask for anything more.’’

Atherton, Masse, & Smoliga. Courtesy: Swimming Canada/Joseph Kleindl

Facing a daunting lineup that included world record holder Kathleen Baker, Short Course World Champion Olivia Smoliga and Canadian teammate Taylor Ruck, Masse rallied from tied for fourth at the 50m wall to win with a 30.04 back half.

‘’I knew it was going to be a tough race,’’ said Masse. ‘’It’s such a strong and deep field so I just tried to stay in my own lane and stick to my own race strategy. Coming off that turn I gave myself momentum and speed to finish that last 25 the way I wanted to do.’’

Australian Minna Atherton ended up claiming silver in 58.85, and Smoliga picked up bronze in 58.91. Ruck ended up locked out of the medals in fourth (58.96), while Baker finished in a tie for sixth (59.56).

A native of LaSalle, Ontario, Masse also becomes the first Canadian ever to successfully defend a World title and is just the second to win multiple titles overall. Four-time Olympic medalist Victor Davis was the first to do so, first claiming the men’s 200 breaststroke in 1982 before winning the 100 breast in 1986.

In addition to retaining her World title, Masse is also the reigning Commonwealth and Pan Pacific gold medalist in the event, making her the woman to beat heading into Tokyo 2020 next summer.

Individually, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist only has the 200 back remaining, where she comes in as the #2 seed behind Italian Margherita Panziera. She’ll also be relied upon heavily on both the mixed and women’s medley relays for Canada.

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1 year ago

It’s kind of crazy how it’s been over 40 years since we’ve seen a repeat. Even when you’re that far short of your pb, that’s got to be a special feeling.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Ben
1 year ago

It’s easier these days because world championships are two years apart

1 year ago

Regan Smith is gonna 5 peat

Reply to  DEAN IS GOD
1 year ago

What does that have to do with kylie?

Tea rex
Reply to  DEAN IS GOD
1 year ago

Let’s hope for a one-peat first

Sean Justice
1 year ago

I thought NC won the 100 back in 2003?

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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