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Aquanauts reel in records, medals at regionals

Larry Fisher
Friday August 18, 2006
Lloydminster Meridian Booster

The Lloydminster Aquanauts reset the standard for excellence at this past weekend’s regional swim meet at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton.

Despite taking only 13 swimmers to the annual event, the Aquanauts returned home with 34 medals, 27 personal bests, nine club records and one provincial record, while finishing fourth overall in team points in what was one of the club’s all-time best showings at regionals.

“We had a phenomenal meet, everyone just swam their hearts out,” said coach Tyler Totman, who hopped back into the pool himself and became one of 11 Aquanauts to qualify for this weekend’s provincials in Calgary with a gold-medal performance in the 100-metre backstroke.

That event is usually dominated by his younger brother Cory, who suffered a severe ankle sprain at the Alberta Summer Games in Red Deer a couple of weeks back and has been out of the pool ever since.

“If Cory was there I wouldn’t have been winning that’s for sure,” said Totman. “But that’s the stroke I used to swim a lot of back in the day and hopefully I can finish close to my old personal best at provincials.”

While Totman was quick to downplay his own accomplishment, he was ecstatic with the efforts of his students – young and old. From first-timers Jordan and Jeanna Siemens, who both swam personal best times, to phenoms Jessica Kelly and Jonathan Smyth, who combined for 12 medals including 10 golds, there was no shortage of highlights for the Aquanauts.

It was just another day in the pool for Kelly, however, as she was up to her old tricks at regionals – setting a new provincial record in the 200-metre individual medley, shattering the old mark by nearly a full second-and-a-half.

“I knew (the record) was within reach, but I didn’t think I would get it at regionals because that was my first time swimming the IM all year,” said Kelly, who is riding a wave of confidence after also resetting her own club records in the 15-to-17-year-old girls’ 100-metre backstroke and 100-metre butterfly at regionals. “For provincials I want to get that IM record lower and go after the 100-metre backstroke record and maybe even get the 50-metre butterfly record too.”

Not to be outdone, Smyth set four club records in the boys’ 17-and-over division at regionals – three of which were already his and another in the 50-metre freestyle which had stood since 1985 and was once a provincial record. The former fast-time holder, Dave Saunders, was present to witness his record fall and later swam alongside Smyth as part of the Aquanauts’ gold-medal winning relay team.

“That 50-free was my closest race of the day and really the only one I had major competition in, but I pulled it out in the end,” said Smyth, who didn’t finish second in anything at regionals, taking gold in four individual races two relays. “I’m ranked first in all four of my events heading into provincials, so if I swim the way I can then technically I should end up on top of the podium.”

Among the Aquanauts other medal favourites for provincials are Natasha Pidkowa and A.J. Mokelky, who boast the province’s top breaststroke qualifying times in their respective age groups. Britt, Brianna and Brayden Wells along with Friedrich Naude will also be making the trip to Calgary.

“As a club we are shooting for eight medals at provincials which would be a phenomenal haul for only 11 swimmers,” said Totman. “Our goal for this year is be a Top 10 club and then maybe Top 5 next year.”

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