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

Just Posted

A Milbert’s tortoiseshell rests on a flower. Nature Chilliwack says butterfly gardens for every stage of life are possible using plants native to the area. (Photo/Nature Chilliwack)
Nature Chilliwack offers butterfly garden tips

Gardens can be created using local plants, the nature club says

(Photo/Mary-Jean Coyle)
Community Camera for June 11, 2021

Submit your photos to news@ahobserver.com

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

(Adam Louis/Observer)
PHOTOS: Students leap into action in track events at Kent Elementary

At Kent Elementary, when the sun’s outside, the fun’s outside. The intermediate… Continue reading

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

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

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Most Read