Patti Komar won a medal in each of the six events she competed in a the 55+ BC Games in Kelowna: three silver and three gold. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

‘I just can’t believe it’: Agassiz swimmer brings home six medals from seniors games

Patti Komar won three gold and three silver medals in her first competition in 48 years

It had been 48 years since Patti Komar dove into a pool to compete.

The last time the Agassiz resident had swam competitively, she was a 17-year-old living in Westminster, Colo. whose greatest swimming achievement was a trophy for Most Improved. (Her sister, who also swam in the same meets, tended to win the trophies when they were growing up.)

Although she had kept on swimming throughout her adult life, often teaching classes to young swimmers or hopping in the pool before work, she had never gone back into a swim meet.

But this year, 65-year-old Komar decided it was time to step into competition once more. From Sept. 10 to 14, she travelled up to Kelowna with more than 100 other seniors to compete in the 55+ BC Games.

RELATED: 4,200 senior athletes kick off the 55+ BC Games in Kelowna

“When you get to be my age … you can choose to sit and say ‘Okay, I give up,’” Komar said, sitting in Hemlock Mountain Coffee with her six new medals in a bag beside her. “Or you can get involved. You can do something, and keep moving.

“I chose the latter.”

Competing in the 50-metre backstroke, the 50-metre butterfly, the 100-metre backstroke, the 25-metre backstroke, the 25-metre butterfly and the 100-metre individual medley against women ages 65 to 69, Komar was up against swimmers who she was told lived to compete.

“The closer I got to the day, I got nervous and wanted to back out,” Komar explained. “People started telling me that these people are really into it. This is what they do all the time. They compete and they live their life to compete, even at the senior level.

“And I thought, nope. Do it just for fun … if you have that in mind, then you have a different perspective,” she continued. “Plus, I prayed a lot.”

Obviously, something in the way she approached her races worked. Komar ended her time in Kelowna with not one, but three gold medals, as well as three silver: a medal for every race she competed in.

“I just can’t believe it,” she said, taking the medals out of the bag. “I’m going to have to get a shadow box and put them in. Because I’m just so proud.”

RELATED: Agassiz, Harrison take home the gold at the 55+ BC Games

In the weeks leading up to the seniors’ games, Komar worked out in the Agassiz, Chilliwack and Harrison pools — practicing her strokes and keeping herself in shape. The rest of the Fraser Valley swim team practiced in Surrey, she explained, but getting out there from Agassiz was a bit of a stretch.

She did her best to practice by herself, even asking the lifeguards at the Chilliwack pool to let her try the starting block so she would be ready in case they were used in the competition.

“When I was a kid, they were all kind of handmade, and I didn’t really like them because I did belly flops … so I’d ask them to move it out of the way,” she said. These new ones, she explained, are a little to hefty to be moved. So she had to learn to dive off them.

The lifeguard “took the cone off and I got up there. And I thought ‘Oh my gosh. I’m feeling a little off balance,’” she said. “‘It’s different. When you’re a kid, nothing really phases you.”

The starting blocks weren’t the only thing that had changed since her last competition.

A few other senior swimmers also stopped to practice in Chilliwack, and after recognizing them by the blue nail polish on their fingers — an identifying marker for the Fraser Valley competitors — she was taught a few more things that had been altered in the intervening years, like pulling down with one arm during a backstroke.

“A lot of the stuff I was doing, I thought was okay,” she said. “But they said, ‘No. If you do that, you’re going to get disqualified.’”

“So they taught me and I practiced and I practiced and I practiced,” she added. “So I had that down pat.”

Prepared, Komar travelled up to Kelowna to face her fears — and won first or second place in every race. Now, Komar has been invited to swim in the Chilliwack Masters Swim Club and plans to head on back to the seniors games next year.

“It took me through a whole adventure,” she said about the games. “It proved that you just don’t stop. Life doesn’t stop after 60 you know. You keep going.

“Although,” she added, laughing, “it does go faster.”



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Gravel resurfacing at Sheffield dog park questioned by Chilliwack dog owners

One person said the best dog park in Chilliwack was ruined by the gravel

Rain is in the forecast for most of the week in Chilliwack

Folks can say farewell to the fair weather after today and hello to the rain in Chilliwack

Chilliwack single mother’s trauma therapy dog victim of a hit and run

Miniature pit bull Fifty’s owner Keshia Spenst facing close to $10,000 in vet bills

Chilliwack farmer ‘frustrated’ with inferior Hungarian ducks in Canada

Ken Falk says Canada Food Inspection Agency is not protecting consumers by enforcing standards

No defence witnesses in trial of man charged in killing of Abbotsford student

‘Change of instructions’ results in defence closing case without calling evidence

VIDEO: Kenney lays out key demands for meeting with Trudeau

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney aims for clear signs of federal action on two-day Ottawa trip

Province sues over sailing incident that killed teen with disabilities

Gabriel Pollard, 16, died from injuries after marine lift failed

Hope’s illicit drug death rate rivals Vancouver

Small Fraser Valley district listed among top five per capita in B.C.

Assessed value of Lower Mainland homes expected to decrease in 2020

Other areas of province may see modest increases over last year’s values

15-year-old charged following threat to South Surrey high school

Police announce pair of teens arrested for Nov. 14 incident at Elgin Park Secondary

TransLink CEO ‘hopeful’ SkyTrain shutdown can be averted with last-minute deal

No extra buses will be on the roads if strike goes ahead

Cougar destroyed in Penticton area after mauling dog, killing cat

This is the first reported incident with a cougar this year in the Penticton area

Injured eagle rescued in White Rock: ‘It was the size of a turkey!’

Bald eagle may have gotten into a fight over territory

Don’t expect extra bus service during impending SkyTrain strike, CMBC says

Full SkyTrain shutdown is scheduled to start Tuesday morning

Most Read