BUDAPEST, Hungary – Canadian swimmers are enjoying their most successful world swimming championships ever in Budapest.
Golds for the remarkable Summer McIntosh and Kylie Masse are the prize jewels in a nine-medal haul for Canada so far. Only the Americans and Australians have claimed more ahead of the final day of racing at Duna Arena.
“It feels good,” Josh Liendo said of Canadian swimmers eclipsing eight medals at the 2019 worlds, and already a marked improvement on four at the previous worlds in Budapest in 2017.
Liendo was responsible for Canada´s eighth medal this week with bronze in the men´s 100 meters butterfly on Friday. Then he helped gain the team’s ninth with silver in the mixed 4×100 freestyle relay.
“We´re building some momentum here and looking forward to next year and then 2024,” Liendo said, referring to the Paris Olympics according to AP. “We´re going to have a really good team. So it´s exciting.”
The 19-year-old Liendo also clocked a Canadian record 21.61 in the men’s 50 freestyle.
Canadian success in the pool is not a lucky accident.
The team´s high-performance director, John Atkinson, told The Associated Press this week that it was down to targeting specific events, finding new ways to identify talent, and being patient.
“That´s kind of the key – let it grow and be patient with it,” Atkinson said after McIntosh and Masse won golds on Wednesday. “It´s about performing now with those that can, and it´s about a production line of those for the future.”
Appearing at her first major event, the 15-year-old McIntosh won the women´s 200 butterfly, clocking 2:05.20 for a national record, world junior record and the fastest time this year.
“This is the start of people getting to know who she is. And she´s got some more races this week,” said Atkinson, who praised her coach, Ryan Mallette, for helping her become Canada´s youngest world champion.
“We first identified Summer when she was 12 years old, swimming in our world trials in 2019,” Atkinson said. “Worked with her coach at the time from her club program, Etobicoke, then she transitioned into a high-performance center two years ago. So a very driven, organized young woman who swims a wide range of events.”
McIntosh also set a world junior record with her relay split in the women´s 4×200 freestyle final, where Kayla Sanchez, Taylor Ruck and Penny Oleksiak also pushed the team to bronze.
While McIntosh is the new star, Masse has been a force for Canada since winning the women´s 100 backstroke at the World University Games in 2015.
Masse won the 50 backstroke final to become a world champion for the third time after the 100 in 2017 and 2019. Only Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel have also won gold at the last three world championships.
“She’s stood on the podium at every major championships since 2015,” Atkinson said of Masse.
McIntosh and Masse also claimed silvers in the 400 free and 100 backstroke, respectively.
Their achievements are inspiring others.
“Summer´s a beast,” Liendo said of McIntosh´s 200 butterfly win after he won his own first medal in the 100 freestyle.
“I was watching it before I came to the ready room and I was like, Jeez, this kid´s insane, she definitely got the blood flowing. She got me pumped up.”