Having qualified in the 100-meter backstroke for Canada at the 2016 Rio Summer Games, there is a strong feeling of momentum for Kylie Masse. At the 2016 BLG Awards, Masse had the honor of the Jim Thompson Trophy Award bestowed upon her, which recognizes the best female athlete in Canadian university sport. Along with the trophy, Masse was the recipient of a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship, a watch and a gold ring. Currently, there are 12,000 student-athletes representing 56 universities in Canada.
The pride of Lasalle, Ontario, Masse becomes the third swimmer to capture the BLG Awards, following 2009 winner Annamay Pierse and fellow Varsity Blues swimmer Elizabeth Warden in 2002. As a side note, Warden would swim for Canada at the 2004 Athens Summer Games. Other Varsity Blues athletes that have captured the Thompson Trophy include track and field star Foy Williams in 1998 and basketball player Justine Ellison two years earlier in 1996.
In addition, Masse becomes the fifth female athlete from the Ontario University Athletic conference to win the award. The most recent was last year, as Windsor Lancers basketball player Korissa Williams gained the honor. Considering that Masse grew up near Windsor, it marked the second consecutive season that an athlete raised or playing in Essex County nabbed the award.
At the 2016 Canadian Interuniversity Sport national swim championships, the University of Toronto sophomore captured victory in three backstroke finals while finishing no worse than second in all seven of her races as her medal haul consisted of four gold medals and three silver medals. Perhaps more impressive was the fact that it marked the second consecutive season that Masse earned seven medals at the nationals.
Complementing her superlative performance was the fact that she broke the Canadian record in the 100-metre backstroke twice. Her ticket to Rio was assured on April 6 with a record time of 59.06 seconds in the 100-metre backstroke.
Masse’s brilliance was also evident in her freshman season of 2014-15, gaining OUA female swimmer of the year honors. At the 2015 Summer Universiade in South Korea, she would establish herself as an international athlete by claiming the gold in the 100-meter backstroke.
During the 2015-16 season, Masse captured an astonishing 18 individual victories in six conference competitions. Not surprisingly, she would set six OUA records in the process. Thanks to Masse, the Varsity Blues female swimming team won the national championship, their first since 1997.
With each conference featuring one male and female finalist for the BLG Award, the other female athletes were as follows. Acadia University basketball player Paloma Anderson (raised in Phoenix, Arizona) represented Atlantic University Sport. Melodie Daoust, who won a gold medal for Canada in ice hockey at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, represented the RSEQ. During the season, she would reach 200 career points with the McGill Martlets, achieving the feat in only 100 games. Canada West was represented by Donetsk, Ukraine native Iuliia Pakhomenko, who starred on the volleyball court for Thompson Rivers University. Although the winners were selected by the Canadian Athletic Foundation, an online vote, which did not count toward the official result, was available for sports fans during a span of two weeks. An impressive 112,499 votes were cast.