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Swimmers navigate to Summer Games

Josh Aldrich
Booster Sports Editor
Sunday July 25, 2004

Lloydminster Meridian Booster — Aquanauts, Riptides and Rebels.

In any other instance the combination those three really don’t coincide with each other. But when the three local swimming clubs come together the way they have this weekend to send a contingent from Lloydminster to the Alberta Summer Games in Okotoks/High River, it makes perfect sense.

The three clubs are in fact sending nine swimmers and two coaches to the games in Southern Alberta.

“We are very strong with our younger kids, our 13, 14, 15-year-old swimmers are very proficient,” said co-coach Tyler Totman. “The team as a whole, it’s probably one of the better ones we’ve sent so far.”

Joining the Lloydminster swimmers will be members of clubs from other communities like St. Paul, Bonnyville and Fort McMurray.
The meet will feature many of the same swimmers that they would see at a provincial meet, thus this is one of the highest calibre meets of the year.

“It’s like a mini-provincials,” said Totman. “You see a lot of the swimmers you normally won’t see until August at these meets. Then there’s some in the winter clubs you won’t see at all. It gives you a chance to see how you rate against the other swimmers in Alberta.”
One of Lloyd’s biggest opportunities to medal is Jonathan Smyth, one of the best swimmers in the provinces for his level.

“I hope to get a medal,” said Smyth, who will be competing in the 200-metre freestyle, the 100-metre freestyle, the 50-metre freestyle and the 100-metre backstroke. “I went to the last summer games and won a bronze medal in the 200-metre freestyle.”

“I think right now (Jonathan) is ranked in the top five in the province in all his swims,” said co-coach Kierstin Smyth. “He compares to the rest of the swimmers, so he definitely has a shot.”

Several Zone 7 members have past games experience to draw on, but for others like Natasha Pidkowa, Okotoks will be a completely new encounter.

“I’m not nervous,” said Pidkowa, 15. “After (nine) years of swimming you get used to the pressure and you just go out there like it’s a normal swim practice.”

Both coaches also have games experience on the other side of the sport. Kierstin and Totman competed in the past two games, in Grand ePrairie in 2000 and Camrose in 2002 as swimmers. While they are able to impart what they learned from those games on their pupils, this is still a completely new experience for them.

“It’s going to be a different experience, I’m really quite excited,” said co-coach Kierstin Smyth. “It’s really nice to share what I’ve learned and what I know about swimming in general and about the summer games.”

Two of the Aquanauts are riding into the games on top of their respective games, having medaled in their last meet last weekend in Edmonton.

Jonathan picked up an overall silver while Braydon Wells secured a bronze. Two other Aquanauts also had solid performances as Brianna Wells won gold and Brit Wells silvered in their respective levels.

“For a couple events there will be some of the same competition there,” said Kierstin. “But I think it will be really different when they get there, because a lot of different competitors will be there that they don’t normally see at a meet. But it definitely helps to build up their confidence, like every meet does.”



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