Swimming Siblings

Three Sets Make a Splash on Ohio Wesleyan Squad
Thomas and Heather deHaas, Maggie and Katie Helfrich, Haley and Tirion Sheafor

Thomas and Heather deHaas, Maggie and Katie Helfrich, Haley and Tirion Sheafor

Sometimes, you’ll see a sports team with a pair of siblings.

The Ohio Wesleyan swimming and diving team has raised the bar with three.

Haley and Tirion Sheafor ’16 are identical twins from Cornelius, North Carolina.

Katie Helfrich ’14 and Maggie Helfrich ’15 are siblings from Marysville, Ohio.

Thomas deHaas ’15 and Heather deHaas ’16 are siblings from Perry, Ohio.

The Sheafor twins always planned on coming to the same school together.

“We knew from the beginning,” said Haley.

Tirion said they looked at schools where they knew they could go together. After looking at several schools in Pennsylvania and Ohio, they chose Ohio Wesleyan.

As for the deHaas siblings, Heather’s decision to come to OWU was very much up in the air until the 11th hour.

“I considered going to a different school until the last minute,” said Heather.

Even when she did decide to come to OWU, Heather was not planning on swimming.

“I talked to [Coach Dick Hawes] and asked him to talk to Heather [about swimming],” said Thomas.

Thomas said he would always tell the Admissions Office that Heather was a swimming recruit, but Heather said she viewed herself as “just a prospective student”.

However, she eventually decided to come out for the team and has been swimming ever since.

The Sheafors, who have swam together since age four, like to set goals separately but also ask each other for help.

“We like to bounce [goals] off each other,” said Tirion.

Haley added that, because they compete in different events, a lot of goal-setting has to take place on an individual level.

Maggie Helfrich said it’s helpful to have a sibling to help her work on goals.

“I bounce all of my ideas off of my sister when making team goals,” said Maggie. “I always ask questions like, ‘do you think that I can do this?’. She has always been very positive and helpful when it comes to goal setting.”

Thomas said swimming with his sister in college versus high school is not much different, except for the fact that their parents aren’t around.

“Being in the pool, it’s basically the same thing,” said Thomas. “It’s just different people [around us].”

Thomas said swimmers tend to be closer to begin with, but Heather said it’s more of a coincidence than anything else that many siblings end up swimming together.

Maggie said the fact that there are so many siblings on the team proves that the team has a very welcoming atmosphere.

“It is clearly a very welcoming team and it shows some unity with having so many siblings,” said Maggie. “The fact that there are siblings shows it is good because there is a good support system in place.”

Despite the fact they swim together, the deHaas siblings said people usually don’t compare one to the other at OWU.

“High school was more about comparisons,” said Thomas.

For a couple weeks, Thomas said, people would mention that Heather was his younger sister, but the talk quickly subsided as they got to know Heather as a person.

Heather said she “never really noticed” people addressing her as Thomas’s sister.

The Sheafors, on the other hand, said they have to deal with more direct comparisons.

Haley said people confuse one for the other “frequently”.

Tirion said that the fact they have different strokes help people tell them apart.

Haley swims more freestyle events, while Tirion does more backstroke and butterfly.

The swimming siblings and the rest of the Bishops return to action this weekend, when Ohio Wesleyan hosts its annual Corbiere/Merion Invitational on Friday and Saturday at the Meek Center.

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