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Canada’s Maggie Mac Neil sets world record, wins backstroke gold at short course worlds

Canada’s Maggie Mac Neil set a new world record on her way to her second gold medal at the world short course championships in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday.

The Canadian blazed to a time of 25.25 seconds in the 50-metre backstroke to claim the top spot on the podium, ahead of American Claire Curzan (25.54), and Australia’s Mollie O’Callaghan (25.61).

Fellow Canadian Kylie Masse, of La Salle, Ont., finished just off the podium in fourth with a time of 25.81.

Mac Neil, of London, Ont., already had a gold medal in the 50-m butterfly on Wednesday, as well as a bronze medal victory as part of the Canadian team in the 4x100m final on Tuesday.

“I’m ecstatic. I knew it would be hard to go a best time but I just really wanted to see the improvements and I’m glad I did it,” Mac Neil said. “I’ve been learning so much from each swim that I’ve been doing and I think I was able to fix all those little errors tonight.”

Masse, the reigning world champion, swam in the lane next to her Canadian teammate and lifted her arm in celebration at the finish.

“I just said, ‘Incredible job,’ and I told her that she broke the world record because I couldn’t tell if she could see or not,” Masse said of her Mac Neil, who wears glasses outside of the pool and often squints to see final times on the scoreboard.

“It’s always a pleasure to race next to Maggie. She continues to push me and it’s incredible to be able to be next to her when she does something amazing like that.”

Mac Neil stated she appreciates Masse’s support.

“It’s great to swim with Kylie, she’s one of my best friends so it’s just amazing,” said Mac Neil. “We’ve gotten really close over the last couple of years. We both kind of had some struggles with COVID and changing environments and stuff. So we’ve been able to work through that together and I wouldn’t be where I am without her.”

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