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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Slideshow: Hope’s winter weather in photos

Readers submit photos of Hope under a blanket of snow

Borrow $8 billion for Fraser Valley rail link, Abbotsford mayor urges province

Henry Braun urges province to borrow billions to connect Abbotsford & Chilliwack to Metro Vancouver

Vandals destroy sign at Hope Legion

Sign found to have fire damage and missing letters Tuesday morning

Upper Fraser RCMP joins Twitter

Twitter feed once limited to Chilliwack expands

Three concerts in two weeks at Bozzini’s Upstairs Lounge in Chilliwack

Jon Brooks and Lynne Hanson are up first, followed by WiL and then Dan Bern for February concerts

Four things ‘not’ to do if you run into Prince Harry and Meghan in B.C.

Here is a list of some things you definitely should NOT do, according to the BBC

B.C.-based Coulson Aviation C-130 crashes in Australia

Three people are confirmed dead in the crash in New South Wales

New nasal spray launched in Canada to combat hypoglycemic shock in diabetics

Baqsimi is a nasal spray contains three milligrams of glucagon

B.C. RCMP spent roughly $750K on massive manhunt for Port Alberni men

Manitoba RCMP helped with 17-day search through the province’s northern terrain

Much-raided Langley animal rescue society loses registered charitable status

Revoked following an audit by Canada Revenue Agency, records show

Future space homes could be made of mushrooms

NASA explores use of fungi to build structures in space

Youth hit with gun butt during fight at Lower Mainland mall

RCMP are investigating the fight between two groups of youths

Weather warning: 80 mm of rain expected overnight in Metro Vancouver

Environment Canada is urging caution when driving

Most Read