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Kelly dominates provincials

Josh Aldrich
Sunday July 10, 2005
Lloydminster Meridian Booster

The next sport Jessica Kelly may want to try is high jumping, that is if she ever wants to hit the bar she set this past weekend in Calgary.

Kelly may have been the only Aquanat at the A provincials, but she more than made up for it as she made the trip back to Lloyd with five medals.

“I was so happy when it was all over because it was a stressful week,” said Kelly, 14. “In the finals you just feel sick because you’re so nervous, but when it’s all over and you’ve won, it just feels awesome.”

Not only did she earn gold in both 50-metre butterfly and the 50-metre backstroke, silver in the 50-metre freestyle and 100-metre backstroke, and a bronze in the 100-metre butterfly, she did it in grand fashion, resetting her personal best in each category.

Her coach Tyler Totman knew she was capable of big things in the pool, but this went far beyond what he thought she was going to do.

“This is more than we expected out of Jessica,” he said. “She was stronger and in better shape than she’s been in previously, but you still don’t expect her to swim as well as she did. The older you get, the harder the competition, and she truly shone at this swim meet.”

She even surprised herself. Kelly entered provincials ranked seventh or eighth in just about every event, and has only been training for two months, where most of her competition has been in the pool for 11 months already. But that’s why the race isn’t settled on paper.

“I felt good and I had a lot of energy,” said Kelly. “When I got in the pool I had good endurance. I had a perfect weekend, it just felt good.”

Now she is training five days a week at the Lloyd Leisure Centre as she prepares for Club Nationals on July 22 in Winnipeg.

This won’t be her first trip to nationals – that was last year. Last time, though, she didn’t do as well as she hoped as the jitters got the best of her. This time should be different, as hopes are she will bring home a medal or two, especially in her 50-metre butterfly.

“I really want to make a couple of finals and do well, getting some best times again,” said Kelly. “It’s a huge meet, there are so many kids and everyone is awesome. You really have to be on your game and know what you’re getting into.”

Totman says if she keeps improving like she is, good things will come her way. She may even grab a coveted NCAA scholarship.

“This is the best we’ve ever had one of our older swimmers do in the ASSA as far as total medal haul,” said Totman. “She is definitely a step ahead of any other female swimmer I’ve seen in my 15 years of coaching and swimming. There is no reason Jessica Kelly cannot make a national team in the future. She’ll probably be able to swim for a university.”

This weekend the Aquanauts are off to three different events. On Saturday they will have the choice between Wainwright and Fort Saskatchewan, and on Sunday most of them will be in Provost for one of their few outdoor meets of the year.

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