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A double dip in the pool

BY MITCH SMITH | DECEMBER 18, 2009 7:30 AM

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A pair of Iowa swimmers share much more than just a passion for the sport. They share nearly identical DNA.

Sophie Borchers, a sophomore, and Grace Borchers, a redshirt freshman, are the only siblings on the Iowa women’s swimming and diving team and one of only three sets of twins in Iowa sports.

Both were accomplished (three-time all-state swimmers) at Evanston Township High School.

Despite being close, they chose to part ways at the beginning of their collegiate careers. Grace Borchers originally set off to become a Hoosier, and Sophie Borchers headed for Iowa City.

It was weird not being known as a twin when she was at Indiana, Grace Borchers said, but in swimming, she wasn’t affected by not having her sister around.

The situation was different for Sophie Borchers.

“Freshman year was hard for me because I was used to having her there to push me in different things,” she said.

After one semester in Bloomington, Ind., however, Grace Borchers was unhappy, and she decided to reunite with her sister at Iowa.

It isn’t the first time siblings have been together in the Iowa swimming program.

Assistant swimming coach Frannie Malone recalled a similar situation during her swimming career at Iowa when Marisa and Dana Burkhardt swam for the AquaHawks. Although they weren’t twins, Dana Burkhardt transferred to join her sister at Iowa.

There will be another set of siblings in the AquaHawk program next year when recent signee Haley Gordon joins her brother, current sophomore Paul Gordon, who swims for the men’s team.

Having siblings on a team provides a special type of support that coaches cannot give, Malone said.

“When you have siblings on a team, there’s definitely a closeness with it,” she said. “It’s an interesting combination, because I think they can encourage each other in a way that others can’t. But they also know how to press each other’s buttons.”

Both the Borchers sisters have contributed in their AquaHawk careers.

Sophie Borchers recorded 16 top-five finishes last season, but she hasn’t been able to swim so far this season because of an ankle injury. She expects to return to dual-meet action next semester.

Grace Borchers has enjoyed some success in her first season. She has one first-place finish and six top-five finishes, and she also helped the 200-medley relay team to three first-place finishes.

“This year is actually going really well,” Grace Borchers said. “I’m definitely happy with where I’m at, but there’s always room for improvement.”

Both siblings said there is no rivalry when it comes to swimming. The competition in the pool is just a fun aspect of their relationship.

Another fun aspect of being identical twins is the ability to switch places. The two have swapped a couple times, they said, including during a swim meet when they were younger.

Sophie Borchers was supposed to swim the 100 backstroke at the meet, but she forgot to get behind the blocks. Grace Borchers swam the race for her sister.

“I swam a personal best,” Sophie Borchers joked.

Being twins can sometimes hinder individuality, but the two said they don’t feel stigmatized by their situation.

“I think that we think of ourselves as our own people,” Grace Borchers said. “But I don’t think we mind sharing swimming.”


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