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)

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)

YEAR IN REVIEW 2019: Agassiz swimmer brings home six medals from seniors games

The Observer is taking a look back at some of our top headlines of 2019

From community events to short term rentals and realities about opioids, housing affordability and homelessness, as well as film crews and a cultural hub proposal, there was no shortage of news in Agassiz, Harrison, and surrounding communities this year. In the days leading up to New Year 2020, the Observer is taking a look back at some of these headlines and more.

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

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 in 2019, 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 in 2020.

“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

The paraglider pilot, while attempting to free himself, dropped 30 feet and sustained serious injuries as Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue members worked quickly to extract him from the trees. They were able to get him to a waiting ambulance at the end of a nearby forest service road. (Contributed Photo/Dave Harder)
Lower Mainland Search and Rescue saves paraglider in treetop rescue

Pilot tried to self-rescue but sustained serious injuries in a 30-foot fall

An original piece of artwork by Rosie Laponder, was stolen along with various art supplies from Julie Ann’s Art and Custom Framing in Chilliwack on Nov. 28, 2020. (Submitted image)
Thieves steal original artwork, art supplies from Chilliwack store

‘It kind of makes you sick to your stomach,’ says store manager

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
Violent crime spree involving knife ends in arrest in Chilliwack

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Hope Secondary School. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Update: Fourth COVID-19 exposure at Hope Secondary School confirmed

Hope high school the only school in Fraser Cascade to experience multiple exposures

Abbotsford's Jada Klein
Abbotsford’s Jada Klein releases debut EP

Fresh off FVMA win, Robert Bateman grad’s ‘Always, Forever’ album arrives online

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
32 family members respond to Abbotsford care home’s plea for staffing help during COVID-19 outbreak

Menno Home asks for relief workers for food service, laundry and housekeeping

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Most Read