High school swimming: German foreign exchange student Anka Lukannek has made Carl Albert teammates work harder

While the boys team has improved, the Carl Albert girls team has gone from a team that failed to qualify a relay team or individual for the state tournament last season to all three relay teams qualifying. Lukannek has qualified individually in nearly every event.
by Jacob Unruh Published: January 17, 2013
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photo - HIGH SCHOOL SWIMMING / SWIMMER: Carl Albert exchange student Anka Lukannek pose for a photo at the Rose State College Aquatics Center on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, in Midwest City, Okla.   Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
HIGH SCHOOL SWIMMING / SWIMMER: Carl Albert exchange student Anka Lukannek pose for a photo at the Rose State College Aquatics Center on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, in Midwest City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

Pat and Suzi Byrne may be the perfect host family for her.

Pat is a captain on the Oklahoma City Police force. Suzi retired in December from an aviation company. They have no kids remaining at home and no grandchildren.

“We thought this was a way to be involved kids' lives,” Suzi said. “We miss that. We miss that from our son; we had a lot of kids at our house a lot when he was growing up. This is just a way of filling our time.

“It's fun with the other nationalities, learning about their country and sharing Oklahoma with them.”

The Byrnes have had six foreign exchange students live with them, including Lukannek and Mara Ajo Bartolome, of Spain, currently.

But Lukannek is the first athlete. Shawn Byrne was a golfer in high school with Pat and Suzi following across the state. Now, they are happy to get involved with athletics again.

“I'm just amazed with her skills,” Suzi Byrne said. “It's really rewarding to go watch her in the meets, to see her excel. She's even beating her times that she had when she was in Germany and that's exciting. Every meet she seems to be improving.”

That's where practices come in.

Lukannek uses her motivation against the boys as a way to improve.

“I try to keep up with them in practice,” she said. “It's helping me, too.”

And it's helping the team.

“We're able to bring an actual team to state this year,” Mid-Del swimming coach Jennay Buckmaster said. “I think having her has pushed all of the girls and now they're going to state, and I think they're going to be a good contender at state because Anka is here and all of the other girls have kind of stepped up, too.”

by Jacob Unruh
Reporter
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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