Taylor leads Aquanauts’ gold rush in pool

Joey Payeur

Donovan Taylor didn’t need to go as far as Alaska for a gold rush.
Rather, Thunder Bay was a hotspot for shiny treasure last weekend—and Taylor ruled the water like a plundering pirate.
The 16-year-old led a hugely successful weekend for the Fort Frances Aquanauts with eight gold medals at the Northwestern Ontario regional meet held at the Canada Games Complex.
In the process, he captured the boys’ 16-and-over high-point award and also set two qualifying times for the eastern national championships later this year.
Taylor was first to the wall in the 200m and 400m individual medley, the 100m and 200m butterfly, the 100m and 200m free, the 200m backstroke, and the 200m breaststroke.
The 13-member Aquanauts’ contingent certainly wasn’t lacking for multiple-medal winners, including Levi Rittau, who struck for three gold, three silver, and a bronze for a lofty total of seven medals.
Rittau, 13, was the fastest of the lot in the 50m butterfly, 50m breaststroke, and 100m.
He also was second in the 50m breaststroke, 100m backstroke, and 200m free while placing third in the 100m breaststroke.
Adam Stromberg, 12, was no slouch himself, powering his way to five medals over the weekend.
Stromberg couldn’t be caught in the 50m and 100m breaststroke while taking second in the 50m free and butterfly and coming third spot in the 100m free.
Katja Sutherland, meanwhile, was the top female performer for the Aquanauts with her four-medal weekend.
The 15-year-old’s list of accomplishments included gold in the 50m breaststroke, silver in the 50m free and 100m breaststroke, and bronze in the 50m backstroke.
Mitchell Riordon, 12, pocketed three podium finishes, with his golden effort in the 50m backstroke and a pair of bronze medals in the 200m backstroke and 200m breaststroke.
Krista Emond, 17, led a sweep of the medals by Aquanaut swimmers in the 50m freestyle for the 15-and-over girls’ category, with Jillian Gustafson, 15, placing third behind Emond and Sutherland.
Emond also had a bronze in the 200m breaststroke while Gustafson grabbed a second bronze in the 50m breaststroke.
Lyndsi Wilson, 12, tacked on another gold medal to the Aquanauts’ haul with a win in the 50m backstroke.
She also added a silver in the 50m breaststroke while Sarah Rittau, nine, rounded out Fort Frances’ total of 34 medals with a bronze in the 50m backstroke.
“Some really good performances have been seen in the developing swimmers,” noted Aquanaut head coach Dawnn Taylor.
“Their strokes are maturing and becoming more highly-developed.
“We are now moving on to more specifics of the stroke because the fundamentals are stronger—on point,” Taylor added.
Taylor also said individual success was born from the team effort.
“The kids gave it their all, had fun, and showed that hard work equals success,” she lauded.
The Aquanauts now will prepare for their home meet—the Boston Pizza Winter Invitational Chill Swim Meet—on Feb. 11-13 at the Memorial Sports Centre.