By MIKE MEILER
Niagara Gazette — Four years ago, Emily and Erin Sliwowski enrolled at Niagara Falls High School. Freshmen at the time, the twins had spent their middle school years at St. Dominic Savio. They also swam at the Whitewater Swim Club, run by Niagara Falls swimming and diving coach Ed Maynard.
The following year, their sister, Jenna, transfered to Niagara Falls, creating a trifecta of sibling swimmers that have dominated the school’s swimming and diving team since.
“(Emily and Erin) were pretty solid right from the get-go as ninth graders, and they’ve been pretty consistent swimmers ever since,” Maynard said. “They’re all-around swimmers. They can do anything from the 50 to 500 freestyle and can do all four strokes pretty well. They’ve been battling for the school record in the 200 (individual medley). That’s pretty hard to find nowadays. You get a lot of swimmers pigeonholed into doing one thing.”
The twins started swimming in second grade when they joined the team at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Erin said they joined Whitewater after it was recommended by a friend and have been swimming competitively ever since.
Erin is the most decorated of the trio. She holds the NFHS record in the 200-meter IM and was part of the team that set the school record in the 400 free relay. She said she doesn’t have one top race, but she’s already qualified for sectionals this year in every individual race except the 100 breaststroke and the 100 backstroke.
Emily comes close to her twin’s well-rounded skills but excels in the backstroke. Her top time in the race is just three seconds off the school record and four seconds shy of state qualification, which she said are both goals for this season.
The twins also compete against each other regularly in the 200 IM. Emily said the competition only makes swimming more fun for the pair.
“Most people ask if I like swimming with my sister,” she said. “I look at it more competitively. It’s not only fun, but we get to race against each other.
“I like it because we have that competitiveness. We want to push each other to do better. But you’re also racing your twin, and one has to win. There has to be a winner and a loser, and it brings out the best in both of us.”
Jenna followed in her sisters’ footsteps early on. She joined Whitewater as an 8-year-old, but wasn’t into swimming as much as her sisters as she grew older. She stopped swimming in sixth grade and decided to try other activities, including dance. When she entered high school, she decided she wanted to be on a team with her sisters again, which is when Maynard decided to try her on the diving board.
“Jenna started in the pool as a swimmer, but as the years progressed, we noticed there might be some talent on the board,” he said. “She had a dancing background, which helped, and she looked very comfortable the first few times she dove.”
“Dancing really helped my diving,” said Jenna, who’s been on the board for three years now. “It really helps me control my body and it’s a little easier to pick up some of the movements.”
Emily and Erin said they were glad their sister found her niche.
“It’s a whole different feeling watching Jenna dive,” Emily said. “I could never get up there and do that.”
“It’s really cool to watch,” added Erin. “To go up there and do flips with twists, I could never do that.”
The girls do get to work together once a meet, though. Maynard has all three girls swim in his 200-meter freestyle, or sprint, relay. It allows the girls to put their competition and the difference in their events aside.
“The (relay) is a lot of fun,” Erin said. “I would’ve never thought with Jenna being a diver that she’d get in the pool and we’d all swim together.”
The twins are now seniors, and with only three Niagara Frontier League regular season meets left, they’re in awe that they’re nearing the end of their high school careers.
“I can’t believe it’s already over,” said Erin, who mentioned the she and Emily would probably attend the same college but hadn’t decided on swimming in the future. “Senior night’s on Friday and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, where has the time gone?’ It’s crazy to think about.”
“I’m going to be a little upset because I always look forward to talking to them before and after meets,” Jenna said. “Next year, I’m going to be the oldest (on the team) and I’m not gonna have them to talk to.”