We do have some serious superstars on the SPP team!

Like Natasha “Niki” Kopp, who joined us last summer during Open Water Season. Niki had a goal to qualify for the Senior Olympics and she did just that in 2018. This week she has been in New Mexico competing in the Senior Games and has totally rocked the house.

We asked Niki, also known as “Daz Fish” to share her story. Here it is!
I was inspired by two athletes in my life: Sandra Payne and Ken Way.  Sandra is a writer and I met her through my Disney family.  Ken is my dentist and we played softball together in community leagues.  They knew I was going to turn 50 last year, and they both encouraged me to participate in the Senior Olympic games.  They had participated in the Pasadena – CA State Senior Olympic Games in 2018 and had both won medals in track and field and strength training. 

Ken gave me the extra nudge.  He reminded me that I would be training for the Nautica Malibu Triathlon all summer and could continue to train for the San Francisco games.  During my summer open water training with Disney Tri-Team I found my coach who would accompany me on my journey.  Charles Mc Peak from Silver Peak Performance became my mentor and number one morale booster.  I joined the SPP school of fish, and entered the competitive world of US Master Swimming.  Charles had his work cut out for him.  I had not been in a swim meet for 30 years.  I needed lots of corrections to my technique and constant guidance on what to expect next.  I love that Charles keeps leading me to success.  His sage advice has made me faster and keeps me injury free.  He loves his athletes like family and is always there for each one of us with encouraging words and support.  I am so grateful that our swimming bond created a beautiful friendship I cherish.

I headed to San Francisco in the Fall of 2018 for the CA Encore State Games.  I was thrilled to bring home a gold in the 500 free and silver in the 50, 100 and 200 free.  Early in 2019 I received a letter from the national games that said I had qualified.  I was so excited to find out that I was able to compete in all four races at the National Senior Olympic Games.  Canada, Mexico and the USA will be sending candidates.  I will be joining Sandra and Ken at the National Senior Olympic Games in Albuquerque this month.  I just found out the Diana Nyad will be a guest speaker.  I  can’t wait!

Two weeks ago I participated in the 2019 Pasadena - CA State Senior Olympic Games.  Charles and his lovely wife Kris came to the meet, on their day off, and supported me.  It was so wonderful to have my SPP gurus there by my side.  They know my strengths and weaknesses, and helped me with a game plan.  They also counted my laps in the distance race, documented my swim with photos and video, and cheered me on every step of the way.   I am so blessed because they are such a dedicated dynamic duo.  They wear their hearts on their sleeves, greet you with great hugs, and hold your hand for cheers and tears. 

My USMS experiences from the past nine months have given me the best preparation for the National Senior Games.  After USMS regional and USMS national swim meets I have a tool box filled with tips and tricks for navigating my way in a fast paced swim meet environment.  I am ready for the National Senior Olympic Games and have a goal to be in the top 10.  I plan to keep getting better and better.  I keep learning every day from my coaches and teammates.  I am grateful for my SPP family.  They are a lovely group of people, who love silly fun, and play very well together.  It is always a treat to begin the day with them at the pool and our team mantra “We’re Burning Daylight”.

She came, she swam, she conquered! Niki took 8th place in the 200 Freestyle and another 8th place in the 500 Freestyle. She met her goal of hitting the Top Ten in the Senior Olympics. And we couldn’t be more proud!

What will Niki take on next? The sky - or the ocean - is the limit!!

Kris McPeak