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Pidkowa swims to ASG silver

Larry Fisher
Wednesday August 02, 2006
Lloydminster Meridian Booster

A bit of a slacker but hardly a slouch, Lloydminster Aquanauts swimmer Natasha Pidkowa added a silver lining to her 2006 Alberta Summer Games, finishing second in the 15-to-17-year-old girls’ 100-metre breaststroke event.

Making her second and final ASG appearance this past weekend in Red Deer, the 17-year-old Holy Rosary graduate swam a personal best 1:24.94 in the final, eclipsing her previous mark set in the preliminary heat by almost three seconds.

“I don’t know where my swimming career is going to take me from here, but it was nice to end off with a medal and that sense of accomplishment,” said Pidkowa, crediting her parents and coaches for her first-ever ASG medal. “I like to slack and have fun, but they force me to show up for practice and constantly push me to improve, so I have to give them most of the credit.”

Another reason for Pidkowa’s sudden success may have been subdued expectations – both from herself and coach Tyler Totman. Attending only her second meet of the year, having placed third overall in her age group at the Aquanauts home meet in mid-June, Pidkowa arrived in Red Deer as a relatively unknown commodity but certainly made a name for herself throughout the weekend.

“I didn’t go in with too many expectations because I had been really busy with work and stuff and didn’t have too much time to compete or even practice,” said Pidkowa, who also finished fourth in the 200-metre breaststroke – missing the podium by the slightest of margins. “I just figured I would go and do my best, and I surprised myself more than ever with what I was able to do.

“I definitely wasn’t as nervous this time around and didn’t put as much pressure on myself (before the individual races).”

Totman couldn’t have been more proud of Pidkowa’s efforts as the only Aquanaut to medal at the meet, and he was absolutely astonished by his third-year student’s ability to shave almost three seconds off her personal best time in just a matter of hours.

“It’s rare to see a PB drop by that much in the same competition, but Natasha just had a phenomenal swim and really gave it her all,” said Totman, adding Pidkowa made some minor adjustments to her stroke after the prelims in preparation for the final. “She had some pretty stiff competition and yet rose to the top of her class, which ultimately reflects well on our club as a whole.”

Pidkowa came within a second-and-a-half of qualifying for ‘A’ provincials with her silver-medal performance, however, she will get another crack at reaching that milestone with regionals set for Aug. 12 to 14 in Edmonton.

“I would love to make it to provincials in hopefully the 100-metre breaststroke,” she said. “I also hold our club record for that event at around 1:25, so I’m hoping to maybe push it a little further and see what I can do.”

Of the 23 total Aquanauts representing Zone 7 in Red Deer, Courtney Lofstrom and Keeley Mokelky also had strong showings. Lofstrom lowered her personal bests in the 11 and 12-year-old girls’ 50-metre freestyle, 100-metre freestyle, 200-metre freestyle and 200-metre breaststroke, while Mokelky set a new PB in the 15-to-17-year-old girls’ 400-metre freestyle. Another shining star for Zone 7 was Fort McMurray’s Jorah Gebert, who led the way with three gold medals in the boys’ 13 and 14-year-old division.

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