Kylie Masse On Regaining Top Form: “It’s A Massive Step Forward From Where I Was Last Year”

2024 CANADIAN OLYMPIC & PARALYMPIC TRIALS

Kylie Masse reminded everyone that she’s a major medal contender on the women’s backstroke scene over the last two days at the Canadian Olympic Trials in Toronto.

Masse, 28, blasted a time of 57.94 in the women’s 100 back on Wednesday, her first time under the 58-second barrier since the Tokyo Olympics three years ago.

She kept that momentum rolling on Thursday, dropping under 2:07 in the 200 back for the first time since 2021.

“I feel great. I’m really pleased with that,” Masse said. “I haven’t been at that form in a long time, and I don’t think I’ve ever been that fast at this point in time in the year. I’ve only ever dropped under 2:07 at the major international meet, whether that’s World or Olympics.

“So, it felt really good, and I’m really pleased with it. I’ll take a look at it after, but I’m just trying to relish in the moment of how it just felt, and just having accomplished the last few days.

“We’ll have to take a technical look at it with the coaches and the video and check my splits and everything, but I really can’t complain with the last two days. It’s a massive step forward from where I was last year, and I know I still have work to do, and I know my competitors around the world are putting in work, and they still have trials to come, but I’m just focusing on myself and looking to build off the last two days.”

THE BACKSTROKE FIELD IN PARIS

Masse won a breakout bronze in the 100 back at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and then claimed silver in both distances in Tokyo, with Australian Kaylee McKeown sweeping the backstroke golds.

Since 2021, McKeown and American Regan Smith have dominated the 100 and 200 back, and Masse has slowly fallen off the radar as someone who can challenge that duo in Paris.

At the 2023 World Championships, McKeown and Smith went 1-2 in all three distances, while Masse failed to reach the podium placing 4th in the 50 and 100 back and 5th in the 200.

However, that sentiment has shifted this week with Masse proving she’s still a force to be reckoned with as she continues to churn out elite performances despite being one of the older swimmers in the field.

“I think I knew over the last two years, I knew that the performances that I put up weren’t what I was capable of, so to be able to come in here this year and just have these two (performances) means the world to me personally,” she said. “Whether that’s a statement to other people or not, it doesn’t really matter, but I have to be okay and happy with that and to be able to build off of that myself.”

Masse has solidified herself as a favorite to reach the podium in the 100 back in Paris, ranking 3rd in the world behind McKeown (57.33) and Smith (57.64), and she sits 4th in the 200 with McKeown (2:03.84), Smith (2:03.99) and American Claire Curzan (2:05.77) holding the top three spots.

EXECUTING THE 200 BACK

Masse has been a bit up and down in the 200 back over her career. She’s been 2:05 four times, one time apiece in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021, but hasn’t quite found the same consistency she’s managed in the 100 back throughout her career.

After winning silver in Tokyo, setting the Canadian Record of 2:05.42, Masse has been 5th at the last two World Championships, clocking 2:08.00 in Budapest and 2:07.52 in Fukuoka.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Masse said when asked if she’s been increased focus on the 200 of late with it being an Olympic year. “I was thinking about that a little bit last night, because I feel like the 100’s kind of always been my thing, and then I’ve ebbed and flowed with the 200 over the last eight years.

“Back in 2016, I didn’t swim the 50 or the 200. I only had the 100. And in 2017, I think I made maybe semis in the 200 and semis in the 50, and then every year I’ve kind of progressed.

“But I think I’ve struggled the most with the 200, but I think for me it’s more when I think too much, I’m changing my stroke, and it’s not helpful for me, so I have to just be relaxed. It’s a learning curve.”

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Daddy Foster
1 month ago

She has such a kind and gentle demeanor, makes you kind of forget how absolutely jacked she is

‘Murica
1 month ago

Beating the washed allegations

"we've got a boilover!"
1 month ago

She will go down, whenever she decides to wrap things up, as one of the best and most consistent Backstroke swimmers in history, one of the best swimmers in Canadian history period, and arguably most importantly one of the best, kindest, classiest teammate/leader/competitor in swimming history. Some special “halls of…” in Ontario and Canada should be making ample space for her.

CDNswammer
Reply to  "we've got a boilover!"
1 month ago

100%. Maybe I’m biased as a Canadian, but I think her consistency at such a high level, every year, is just so impressive. A medal in 2024 would make up for 2023, but if she doesn’t get one, she still has had one of the greatest track records in the sport – starting with 2015 WUG gold, then medaling essentially every year at every major competition (worlds SCM/LCM, Olympics, Comms, Pan Pacs) since then, until just missing in 2023 – it’s pretty amazing!

David
Reply to  CDNswammer
27 days ago

Yeah reflecting back, her accomplishments are staggering. Sometimes I feel like she doesn’t get enough coverage in the Canadian sports media. I suppose it’s just because of the lack of an olympic gold medal, but that’s a shame considering how consistent and elite she’s been. Multiple medals in multiple olympics, and three individual gold medals in 3 different world championships is crazy. She really might have the best resume of any Canadian in modern swimming history. At least, until Summer blows the doors off in Paris.

Troyy
1 month ago

As with the 100 many thought the 200 bronze would go to an American but it’s not looking so certain anymore.

M d e
Reply to  Troyy
1 month ago

I reckon Jaclyn Barclay could have something special cooking.

Troyy
Reply to  M d e
1 month ago

It’s been really impressive to watch her 200 take off after she started doing some sessions with the senior group.

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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