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Kelly cruises to four more records

Sean Rooney
Booster Sports Editor
Sunday, August 24, 2003

Aquanauts swimmer Jessica Kelly dominated provincials in Calgary this past weekend.

Tyler Totman won a bronze medal in the 17-and-over boys 100 m backstroke event at provincials in Calgary this past weekend, but he knows his limitations.

He's fast, but "I'll never be Jessica Kelly fast." he said.

Already regarded as the top 12-year-old in the province, Kelly won multiple gold medals at provincials.

To everyone's surprise - even hers - she not only won all four individual events she competed in, she broke provincial records in them as well.

"It went better than I expected it to," she said. "Some of them, it was amazing I even beat them."

Kelly now holds five provincial records. Two weeks before provincials she broke the 50 metre freestyle and 100 metre individual medley. In Calgary she re-broke her own 50 m free time by a full second (it now stands at 28.42 seconds), plus set records for the 50 m butterfly (31.24), 50 m back (32.78) and 100 m free (1:04.45). Her new marks were an average of a half-second faster than their predecessors.

"You get time to warm up, but it makes you think that 'hey, this is the last shot you have at it, you may as well give your all,'" said Kelly. "I think I trained more than other years, I tried a little bit harder. I had a really good coach, Jenna Lamb was great, and I had more drive."

Lamb thinks that with her physical and mental abilities, Kelly can go as far as she wants in the sport - including the Olympics.

"If she wants to, she will be going to the Olympics," said Lamb, coach of the Aquanauts. "If that's her goal, she will go. She is one of those few swimmers you ever come across that the ability is there.

"She's very modest, even in practice she'll never have the superior attitude to one of the other swimmers, she's just one of them."

Kelly would have five gold medals from provincials, but she was only allowed to compete in four individual events. She was ranked first in the 100 m IM because of her provincial record time. She also struck bronze in Calgary twice in two relays with fellow Aquanaut swimmers Haley Howland, Keeley Mokelky and Natasha Pidkowa.

"Amazing meet, an unbelievable meet, I've never seen that before," said Lamb. "It's one of those meets, she was able to harness all of her talent. There weren't people quite at her calibre, but they were closer than there has been in our region, so she was able to push herself past her limit even a bit more."

Where does Kelly's talent come from? Her mother was a top-level swimmer, and her father, Paul, played seven years in the NHL. Athleticism and swimming are in the genes.

"She was pretty good, so she's the one who got me motivated to do it," Kelly said of her mother.

The question now is what the 12-year-old phenom will do with all of her talent. She is, after all, only 12, but the lure of a full-year swimming season - she only swims with the summer club Aquanauts right now - would presumably push her to the next echelon of elite young athletes.

"I might do it (winter club)," she said. "I'm not sure yet, it's up to me. I probably won't play hockey, just take the winter off."

NOTES: Totman, like most of the 12 Aquanauts who went to provincials, set a personal best in his heat, 1:11.92.
"In regionals they have preliminaries and finals, but at provincials it's straight to finals," he said. "You run your heat, hope to beat people in the slow heat if you're in the fast heat. "Like me, I was up against the two fastest guys."

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