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Aquanauts make podium splash

Larry Fisher
Monday June 19, 2006
Lloydminster Meridian Booster

The Lloydminster Aquanauts won one for the dads in the stands at their annual Father’s Day Weekend Swim Meet on Saturday at the Leisure Centre.

The club’s 31 participants combined to reel in three gold medals along with two silvers and 53 personal bests en route to winning their home meet for the first time in many years.

“It’s been awhile,” said coach Tyler Totman. “We had so many amazing swims this weekend and now this sets a great base for the future of our club and our performance in the long run.”

Leading the way yet again was 15-year-old phenom Jessica Kelly, who swam away golden and in the process broke all four of the club records she set last weekend in Vermilion – 100-metre freestyle, 100-metre backstroke, 50-metre freestyle and 50-metre butterfly.

The latter being the most significant as she redeemed herself after settling for silver in Vermilion. While it is little more than a one-horse race for Kelly in the other three events, she has company in the 50-metre butterfly with Edmonton’s Elaine Gross giving her all she can handle and then some.

“She beat me last weekend and I was out to get her back this time, especially swimming in my own pool,” said Kelly. “I was really ready for that race and my preparation paid off.”

It may be billed as a battle between bitter rivals, but rest assured Kelly and Gross are actually good friends outside of the pool and live for the competition they give each other in the water.

“It was a good race again, but she totally killed me on the turns,” said Gross, 16, who swims out of Edmonton’s Huma Huma club. “Last time it was a total dog fight in the water and this time she kind of pulled away in the end, but it’s just a friendly competition and I love swimming against her because she’s always pushing me to do more than I actually can.”
Totman certainly gets a kick out of watching the two go head-to-head, as they consistently raise the bar while lowering their times.

“There’s a real rivalry brewing there and it’s exciting for all of us,” he said. “It’s always nice to watch anyone swim at that calibre and it really inspires our younger swimmers when they see them going that hard.”

Kelly and Gross will soon find themselves swimming as teammates rather than nemesis, however, as both have been named to an Alberta All-Star team for an upcoming meet in Edmonton.

As for the rest of the field on Saturday, the event attracted about 240 swimmers, ranging in age from four to 18, from eight clubs as far away as Edmonton. With that level of competition in town, it would have been easy for the Aquanauts to be overshadowed at their own meet, but they did their part to stand out.

Jonathan Smyth had a big day, winning gold in the boys’ 17-and-over division and breaking a club record in the 100-metre freestyle along the way. Likewise, Cory Totman shaved close to three seconds off the club record he set in Vermilion last weekend, swimming his 100-metre backstroke heat in 1:06.98 to join Smyth on the podium with a silver medal for his efforts.

Haley Howland was the Aquanauts other golden girl, taking top honours among the 17-and-over girls, while Britt Wells followed up her gold medal performance in Vermilion with a satisfying silver in the eight-and-under age group.

Next on the agenda for a majority of the Aquanauts competitive swimmers are the Alberta Summer Games tryouts which are set for this Sunday.

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