Kylie Masse is back on top of the podium at a major international event.
The swimmer from Windsor, Ont., captured gold in the 100-metre backstroke on Friday at the Pan Pacific Championships, highlighting a three-medal day for Canada.
The 22-year-old won the same event at last year’s world championships and this year’s Commonwealth Games and took bronze in the 100-backstroke at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Masse set a Pan Pacific record of 58.29 seconds in the morning heats and then finished in 58.61 seconds for the win, pushing past Australian Emily Seebohm after the turn and holding off world-record holder Kathleen Baker of the United States, who finished third.
“That’s always the goal for me. I like being able to accelerate in my finish and come into the wall hard with a high stroke rate,” Masse said.
The race produced the same trio of medalists as at last year’s world championships, when Baker finished second and Seebohm took third.
“It’s always a great race when they’re in there for sure,” Masse said. “It’s great competition and we all push each other. We’re also friendly with each other in the ready room, which I think is awesome. It’s awesome for backstroke moving forward to have that kind of competitive rivalry.”
Meanwhile, Taylor Ruck of Kelowna, B.C., brought her meet medal total to three, following up her 200-freestyle gold on Thursday with bronze medals in the 100-freestyle and 4x200-freestyle relay.
Ruck’s personal best of 52.72 seconds in the 100 was the second fastest in Canadian history, just 0.02 off Penny Oleksiak’s Olympic gold-winning time.
Australia’s Cate Campbell won in 52.03, while Simone Manuel of the United States was second in 52.66.
“That was amazing, I can’t even describe it. It was so cool to be part of that race,” Ruck said. “I felt really good in that race. The first 50 I went out pretty good and smooth and the last 50 I just tried to hang on and tried to race Cate and Simone.”
Kayla Sanchez of Toronto finished sixth in 53.68.
Ruck and Sanchez combined with Rebecca Smith of Toronto and Mackenzie Padington of Victoria for bronze in the relay. Australia won the race, while the United States finished second.
Padington was the anchor, finishing in a lifetime best split of one minute, 56.75 seconds to keep Canada ahead of Japan.
“These three girls set it up amazingly, so I just really wanted us to get a medal. I think we all did really good and accomplished that,” Padington said.
On the men’s side, Mack Darragh of Oakville, Ont., finished fifth in the 200-butterfly, while Javier Acevado of Toronto was fifth and Markus Thormeyer of Vancouver was sixth in the 100-backstroke.
The meet, a major competition held roughly halfway between Summer Olympic Games, runs through Sunday. Oleksiak, the star of Canada’s 2016 Olympic swim team, decided last month to skip the Pan Pacific meet to concentrate on training for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.
The Canadian Press