HS Girls Article from DeKalb Chronicle

Waller sisters enjoy competition

By James Nokes - [email protected]

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ROB WINNER | [email protected] Emily Waller (left), a senior at DeKalb, and her sister, Grace, a sophomore at DeKalb, dive into the pool during practice at DeKalb High School on Friday afternoon. 10/24/2008

DeKALB – ‘The Question’ is unavoidable.

Sisters Emily Waller and Grace Waller have been swimming together ever since they started competing in the pool. They get ‘The Question’ all the time. And they always offer a pretty consistent answer. 

If Emily and Grace were to race, who would win?

“She’s very good at sprinting,ý Grace Waller, who swims the breaststroke, said about her older sister Emily. “We each have our strengths and pretty much stay with those. But we are competitive.ý

As a part of the DeKalb/Sycamore girls swimming co-op, the sister duo has mastered Grace Waller’s politically-correct answer. It is indicative of the bond that exists between sisters.

But next year, the Waller sisters won’t swim on the same team. On Thursday at the DeKalb High Auditorium, Emily Waller signed a National Letter of intent to attend Bowling Green on a swimming scholarship.

Fittingly, Grace Waller sat in the auditorium’s front row. The Waller’s parents, Brad and Jacque Waller, were joined by DeKalb athletic director Dan Jones and celebrated the signing with a table-sized cake and lemonade amongst a gathering of friends and family.

“We’ve always been at each others events,ý Emily Waller said. “I’ve swam with her my whole life. I don’t know what it will be like next year without her being there. We are best friends in and outside the pool; we are so close to one another.ý

The Barbs hope the chemistry between sisters and a team that has swam together year round for “what seems like forever,ý according to coach Marybeth McGill, will propel the DeKalb/Sycamore swimming co-op at the IHSA St. Charles North Swimming sectionals at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

As far as long-term goals, Emily Waller said she wants to be an NCAA qualifier. She also wants to be a part of a Mid-American Conference title and in the far off future, be involved in the Olympic trials. But first, the potent sister combination hopes to close out its two-year run as Barbs with another celebration.

“My goal is to win the 100 freestyle,ý Emily Waller said. “We also want to get the relay teams there, we’ve been close before.ý

Opponents will also try to stay close to the Waller sisters on Saturday. Emily Waller enters the St. Charles North Sectional as the No. 1 seed in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle races.

McGill said the middle lanes where Emily Waller will swim provide a distinct advantage because you can track the competition on each side. Grace Waller will also have the middle-lane advantage with a No. 2 seed in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke.

But perhaps the biggest target on Saturday will be on the relay teams’ back. Both the 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle relay team, Emily Waller, Kate Taylor, Grace Waller and Casey Jepsen, enter as No. 1 seeds.

“We know both St. Charles squads will be gunning for us,ý McGill said. “They go hard through the season and rest up just before sectionals.ý

Both Waller’s said they want to take the relay teams to the IHSA State Meet on Nov. 21-22 at Evanston. Emily Waller and Kate Taylor have competed in two State Meets.

Grace Waller made it to the 2007 State Meet as a freshman. Last year, Emily Waller finished 12th in the 100-yard freestyle and Grace Waller finished 8th in the 100-yard breast stroke. Despite the wealth of postseason experience and having hit some of the times necessary to qualify for state throughout the season, there will still be butterflies on Saturday.

“We’ll be nervous,ý Emily Waller said about Saturday’s sectional. “But we will channel it into good nervousness and make it into adrenaline.ý