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Smyth, Kelly fill pool with medals

Larry Fisher
Friday August 25, 2006
Lloydminster Meridian Booster

Coming off one of their all-time best showings at regionals, Lloydminster Aquanauts coach Tyler Totman set the bar high heading into this past weekend’s Alberta Summer Swimming Association Provincial Meet in Calgary. He benchmarked their performance at eight individual medals, saying that would be a phenomenal haul for only sending 11 swimmers. But lo and behold his clubmates nearly doubled that total, bringing home 14 individual medals as well as two relay medals.

“We actually exceeded my expectations by a fair margin and really racked up the medals at provincials,” said Totman, who accounted for one medal of his own – a bronze in the boys’ 17-and-over 100-metre backstroke. “A lot of our kids stepped it up when the pressure was on and swam their way to the podium, which was just awesome to watch.”
In what has become a trend all year long, two Aquanauts distanced themselves from the pack.

Jonathan Smyth ended his Aquanauts career on a memorable note; by winning four gold medals, setting three club records, and was awarded the trophy for 2006 ASSA Most Outstanding Male Swimmer – the first Aquanaut to do so since Hobie Horton back in 1985.

“Jonathan has had an outstanding year,” said Totman, adding Smyth now has his sights set on making the University of Alberta’s swim team this fall. “He changed up the way he trained, instead of two one-hour blocks per day he did one two-hour block, and that really worked wonders for his endurance and put a lot more focus on building natural speed in him.”

Jessica Kelly also came up big in Calgary, adding yet another provincial record to her growing collection, and also came away with four medals – two gold and two silver. With her time of 1:09.14 in the 100-metre backstroke event, Kelly officially became the fastest female backstroker in summer swimming history.

“Jessica got out of the blocks super fast and she brought it home just as fast, she didn’t die out at all, and it was just another phenomenal race into the record books for her,” said Totman, noting Kelly’s provincial record in the 200-metre individual medley set two weeks ago at regionals actually fell again at provincials to Elaine Gross, the gold medallist out of the Huma Huma Swim Club in Edmonton.

While most of her Aquanaut teammates have since dried off and put away their caps until next spring, Kelly is still in the pool preparing for winter club tryouts as she will audition for Sherwood Park’s world-renowned Silver Tide Swim Club in the coming weeks.

“It is a very high-performance club. At the last age group championships they won top team under 75 members in the province of Alberta and one of the Silver Tide’s swimmers is also a member of Team Canada,” said Totman. “If Jessica does in fact catch on there, training year-round with that kind of talent pushing her to get better, she will definitely develop into an elite-calibre swimmer.”

Kelly’s influence is already rubbing off and is part of the reason for the Aquanauts’ substantial improvement over last year’s showing at both regionals and provincials – climbing from outside the Top 20 to within striking distance of the Top 10 summer clubs in Alberta over the course of a single season.

Britt Wells also medalled in three events at provincials – taking silver in the girls’ eight-and-under 50-metre freestyle, bronze in the 25-metre freestyle, and bronze in the 100-metre individual medley. Meanwhile, Natasha Pidkowa rounded out the Aquanauts’ individual medallists with a gold and club record in the girls’ 17-and-over 100-metre breaststroke as well as a bronze in the 50-metre butterfly. Pidkowa also teamed up with Kelly, Keeley Mokelky, and Brianna Wells to win gold and set a new club record in the girls’ 17-and-over freestyle relay as well as a bronze and club record in the medley relay.



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