Canadian women steal the show at Fina World Swimming Championships

North American team bag three golds, a silver and a world record in Abu Dhabi

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Canada was in the spotlight on the penultimate night of the 15th Fina World Swimming Championships (25m) Abu Dhabi 2021 on Monday.

The North American team's women’s contingent bagged three golds and a silver, including a world record by Margaret MacNeil in 50m backstroke at the Etihad Arena in Yas Island.

MacNeil, 21, who had won gold in the 100m butterfly at the Tokyo Games, clocked 25.27 seconds as she led a one-two finish for Canada.

Her teammate Kylie Masse (25.62) took silver ahead of Swede Louise Hansson (25.86).

However, Masse became the fourth woman to win 10 medals in backstroke at the world championships (long or short course) and Olympics combined, after Australian Emily Seebohm (13), Katinka Hosszu (11) of Hungary and Kirsty Coventry (10) of Zimbabwe.

“I had a couple of misses when I did my turn on the wall, and I thought if I corrected that, I could be close. So that was the goal when I came to this meet,” MacNeil said.

“It was nice to have the world record and get that behind me. It would be even nicer if I can get another tomorrow (in 100m butterfly on the final day).”

Sydney Pickrem gave Canada their first gold on the night when she took the women’s 200m medley for her first medal at the World Championships.

A bronze medallist in the women’s 4X100m medley relay at the Tokyo Games in the summer, she clocked 2:04:29 for her first title in the short course.

China’s Yiting Yu took silver in a junior world record time (2:04.48) ahead of American Kate Douglass (2:04.68), who won bronze in the same event at Tokyo, taking third spot.

“This, emotionally and physically, has been the hardest year, probably in my life so far and my career in swimming," Pickrem, 24, said. "This means a lot. A week ago I thought I just can’t do it. I wasn’t really ready to come here.

“It’s been a long season. I didn’t take a break, being an Olympic year. I don’t think it’s necessarily good or bad. It’s just take what you do and get the best out of it.

“I’m so grateful to my ISL (International Swimming League) team along with my teammates and coaches just to be here.”

Summer McIntosh, Kayla Sanchez, Katerine Savard and Rebecca Smith then rounded off a fantastic night for Canada by taking 4X200m freestyle relay gold.

The Russian Swimming Federation and USA shared the men’s 4X50m medley relay gold in a championship record time of 1:31.51. Italy took bronze in 1:30.78 in the opening event of the night.

Nicholas Santos proved age is just a number as he raced to gold in the men’s 50m butterfly. The Brazilian, 41, touched the wall in 21.93s, ahead of Dylan Cater of Trinidad and Tobago and Italian Matteo Rivolta.

Daiya Seta (3:56.26) claimed his fifth world championship gold with the men’s 400m medley title. Qianting Tang (1:03.47) of China bagged the women’s 100m Breaststroke, with Swede Sophie Hansson and Mona McSharry of Ireland behind.

Updated: December 20, 2021, 5:47 PM