TOKYO — Regan Smith, a 19-year-old American world champ, took bronze in perhaps the most hotly contested race of the Olympics here on Tuesday, finishing third to Australia’s Kaylee McKeown and Canada’s Kylie Masse in the women’s 100-meter backstroke.
Over 48 hours leading into Tuesday’s final, Masse, McKeown and Smith (twice) lowered the Olympic record in back-to-back-to-back-to-back races. Each set a new mark in her heat. Then Smith set another one in her semifinal Monday morning, setting the stage for a showdown with McKeown — who broke Smith’s world record last month — on Tuesday.
The three made the turn nearly even, but McKeown and Masse pulled head over the final 25 meters, with McKeown (57.47) finishing just .02 off her own world record. Masse finished in 57.72, while Smith came in at 58.05.