Some sports lend themselves to being family oriented.
Swimming is one of those. It seems like if a parent or a sibling was a swimmer, younger generations tend to do the same.
You can see them all around. At Clinton, Bailey and Sarah Klinkhammer are cousins. BayLeigh Brewer at Morrison gets to swim for her mother, who is the head coach. Then there are the Norman triplets of course, whose brother also swam.
The Hilgendorfs are no exception. Anna and Sarah are two key members of the Clinton girls’ swim team and have been for the last couple of years. Anna is a senior this season and Sarah is a sophomore.
Ironically, it was a pair of siblings who introduced them to the sport in the first place.
“Molly Shannon and Casey Shannon were swimming and they told me they were headed to swim practice and I thought, hey, that sounds fun,” Anna said. “Then the next week my mom signed me up for club.”
Anna has been swimming for about seven years now. When she was at meets and in the water, Sarah recalled sitting in the bleachers. Being in late elementary school, swim meets made for long and hot days.
“I started swimming because I had to go to all of their meets and it was really boring,” Sarah said. “”It was so long and boring and I just wanted to get in the water and do what they’re doing. I gave it a try and I fell in love with it.”
The two have very different personalities. Sarah is definitely the quieter of the two, often wearing a serious face especially on the pool deck. Anna is a bit more bubbly.
They never thought they were particularly close, admitting that they often don’t get along at all. That changed a little when they started swimming together in high school.
“I never thought I’d even talk to my sister in high school because growing up we didn’t really get along,” Anna said. “This just brought us closer. We still fight, but in the water we’re best friends.”
Part of that is that there isn’t really a ton of room for personality to come out. Instead, they have some chemistry when it comes to relays and communication.
“Most of the time we don’t get along,” Anna said. “In the water, it kind of brought us closer. It’s easy to swim together.”
It’s also that swimming is a grueling sport. They have more in common than they originally thought, because to be a swimmer it takes a certain kind of mental strength.
“It’s hard, it’s challenging, and you really have to have a good mindset,” Anna said. “If you go to practice and your head isn’t in the right mindset, you’re not going to get what you want out of it.”
But that’s why they both like it. They’re competitive athletes who enjoy working towards a goal every time they get in the water.
“I would say that because it’s against yourself,” Sarah said. “You’re trying to better yourself while going against others.”
The fact that they’re both out is all thanks to the influence swimming has throughout families. That, plus the bond they have through the sport, is something they’re both thankful for.
“I see it a lot,” Sarah said. “When one swims, the other does.”