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Aquanauts win home meet

Josh Aldrich
Wednesday June 20, 2007
Lloydminster Meridian Booster

For being a relatively small swim team, the Aquanauts pack quite the punch.

This past weekend with eight different clubs and more than 220 swimmers in town for the Aquanauts annual meet, it was the hometown swimmers that came out on top with seven medallists and several new club records.

“The fact we only sent 26 swimmers was the most impressive part,” said coach Tyler Totman. “Twenty-six swimmers managed to win our meet.”

Two of the club records that fell were long-standing records that date back almost 30 years – 17 and over girls 50-metre butterfly (1972) and the 100-metre backstroke (1980) – and both were taken over by Haley Howland.

“It was awesome,” said Howland, 18. “It felt good inside knowing I could still train hard and be successful. I tried it last weekend in Vermilion but wasn’t successful, but with the home pool advantage I just nailed it.”

Howland’s success was a bit of a surprise. After being a rising star with the club for a number of years, she took last season off almost entirely due to it being her Grade 12 year and other commitments. But she couldn’t deny the draw of the pool.

“I just didn’t have the heart to swim last year,” said Howland. “But I’ve been working at the pool full-time so I’ve been in the water a lot more. The first couple of practices were hard to get into, but I made it, so now I should be good for the rest of the season.”

Cory Totman also set a club record in the 100-metre backstroke. But it wasn’t standing near as long as the ones Howland beat, as he actually set it last year.

“It was pretty easy, but I enjoy doing it. I didn’t really target it, but it happens, getting faster is always a goal, so when I (reset a record) it feels good,” said Cory, who won the 17 and over boys gold and has his sights set on more medals at provincials.

As always with an Aquanauts meet, Jessica Kelly also showed very well. No provincial marks fell this past weekend for her, but Totman has the feeling it will only be a matter of time.

“She had a phenomenal meet. She should be on pace to start beating provincial records in the next three to four weeks as we do more speed training with her,” said Totman, noting the 200-metre IM and the 1,500-metre freestyle will be the likely victims. “I know Jess herself isn’t happy unless she’s beating provincial records. In her case, setting personal bests and continuing development, records seem to follow.”

Other medallists included Kelly winning the girls 15 and 16 gold, AJ Mokelky the boys 15 and 16 silver, Natasha Pidkowa the girls 17 and over silver, Tyler Totman the boys 17 and over silver, and Hanna Kern-Ali the girls six and under bronze.

The older swimmers next meet will be in two weeks in Fort Saskatchewan, and Totman is expecting even more of a challenge, especially from Edmonton’s HUMA club.

“HUMA being closer to home, you know they’re going to pick it up a bit. They finished third at our event and they’re a perennial provincial powerhouse,” said Totman. “And Fort Saskatchewan you know will have a lot of pressure on themselves to win it.”

The weekend was also an opportunity for the club’s younger swimmers to get a taste of a big competition as the meet tailored a few events exclusively towards them. They will have another shot at the competition experience this weekend in Leduc at the Derrick meet – a meet built around young swimmers.

“For a lot of them it took a lot to go up behind the blocks in their very first meet, not knowing what to expect,” said coach Keegan Rutherford. “A lot of our swimmers didn’t even know if they would be able to swim a full length and were real nervous, so we did a lot to overcome that – to develop confidence in these swimmers.”

The youth of the club is a strong point as they do their best to eventually fill the swimming cap of those moving on.

“You can see potential and progression in a lot of them. They may not look like much of a swimmer at the beginning of the year, but they’ll be able to swim a couple hundred metres by the end,” said Rutherford.

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