Two Olympic silver medals, two bronze ones, four U SPORTS female swimmer of the year trophies, four U of T female athlete of the year trophies, and a world record.

That’s what Kylie Masse’s trophy cabinet looked like as a university student. 

After graduating from U of T and the Varsity Blues program in 2021, Masse continued to make a name for herself as one of Canada’s best female swimmers and a deadly backstroke specialist. Recently, she returned to U of T soil for the second leg of the 2022 FINA Swimming World Cup, which took place in Scarborough, Ontario from October 28–30.

Masse made a splash at the Pan Am Centre over the weekend. She earned silver medals in the Women’s 50m Backstroke, the Women’s 100m Backstroke, and the Women’s 200m Backstroke,  helping push Canada to second overall on the table.

“It’s really special to be able to have a meet here in Toronto; [I] have a lot of family and friends in the stands,” Masse told The Varsity right after she clocked in a speedy 26.05 seconds in her 50m backstroke qualifying race. Masse stated that she was there to “have fun and see how fast [she] can swim” at the beginning of the short course tournament. 

When asked about her continued impact on U of T student athletes, Masse explained that inspiring the next generation of swimmers was important to her, “I know how much I admired so many swimmers and had so many swimming role models growing up so I hope I can do the same for the young ones coming into the sport.” 

Summer McIntosh’s statement performance

Speaking of young, up-and-coming swimmers, a 16-year-old by the name of Summer McIntosh made history over the weekend. McIntosh came first in the 400m freestyle race, beating American treasure Katie Ledecky by 00.08 seconds, and making it clear to us that McIntosh is not up-and-coming anymore — she’s here.

The buildup to the race was just as intense as the race itself. While Ledecky stayed in front for most of it, McIntosh, a great endurance swimmer, put on the afterburners for the last 25 metres of the short course race to touch the wall right before the American. Fans roared from the stands when it happened. McIntosh now holds the world’s junior record for the event, as well as the title of being the second fastest in the world at the event. 

Throughout the rest of the weekend, McIntosh got a gold in the 400m medley event, a bronze in the 200m backstroke event, and a bronze in the Women’s 200m medley

The Varsity could not get an interview with McIntosh, as she was ushered past the media lane after the first few questions. McIntosh had this presidential presence about her; wherever she walked, hordes of sports journalists followed. To get a sense of her fame, a massive billboard of her showing off her sponsorship with the Australian swimwear brand Funkita donned a wall next to the Speedo store in the Pan Am centre. It’s hard to believe that she’s only 16 years old. 

It was a team effort

Getting Canada to the second position overall on the medal table in the FINA Swimming World Cup 2022 is a collective effort, and a slew of Canadian talent was at the Pan Am centre this past weekend. 

Scarborough native Joshua Liendo, who made history during the 2021 FINA World Championships as the first Black Canadian swimmer to win a gold medal in an individual event, was all smiles after his 50 free qualifier race. He told The Varsity that he was getting ready for the FINA World Championships in Japan. 

“I’m not rested… not trying to do anything special but the best in the world are here, guys that I’m going to be racing next year at Worlds… so I’m definitely going to race them,” said Liendo. 

The Albertan Finlay Knox stated that he’s trying to get in shape this year and starting his preparation for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. 

“This year, no stress, just whatever happens happens we just build from it… [we’re] using this year just to learn from all the makes that we had last year and then be dialed in and ready for Paris,” said Knox.

If there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s that the state of Canadian swimming is in good hands. Whether you know Masse from a kinesiology class you took at U of T or you’re McIntosh’s biggest fan, there are many reasons for sports fans to ride the wave of Canadian swimming success.