DURHAM � Some siblings who share a sport have rivalries fueled by fire and competition.
What St. Thomas Aquinas swim team siblings Max and Megan Reich share, however, is a mutual respect and admiration for one another and a propensity for greatness.
Max, a senior at St. Thomas, and his sister Megan, a sophomore, have both proven themselves to be exceptional swimmers but they are also very close friends, and both agree that that friendship has helped them support one another and lift one another to success in the pool.
�He is really supportive of me, which means a lot, because he is my role model,� said Megan. �It is cool to be (swimming for St. Thomas) but to be doing it with him makes it more special.�
It�s the final year they�ll swim together, as Max, one of the most highly-recruited schoolboy swimmers in the region, is headed to Indiana University on scholarship next year.
Max said he has enjoyed seeing his sister�s emergence and success as much as he has enjoyed his own success, and he is proud that she sees him as a mentor and a friend.
�To be called a role model means a lot,� he said. �We are really close, so to have the opportunity to swim with her for two years means a lot. It�s been so much fun to see her transform into the swimmer she is today.�
Megan has already qualified for states in all of her events, and she hopes to do what her brother has done during his own career at St. Thomas � win every event she competes in at the state meet.
She won both events she qualified for as a freshman, the 500-yard freestyle (4:59.39) and the 200-yard freestyle (1:51.25). She also served as the anchor for both the 200- and 400-yard free relays.
Both of the Reichs say they don�t compare accomplishments, or try to outdo one another. They are too busy trying to outdo themselves by improving times and techniques to be successful.
�I used to watch him from the stands and cheer him on, and hope I could be like him,� Megan said. �Now I am down here with him.�
This season, however, will be their last for the North Hampton siblings as teammates, a feeling that is bittersweet for both of them.
�It�s been awesome the past two years getting to be on the team together,� Megan said. �But he also drives me everywhere, and we are at the same school and on the same club team, so we spend most of our time together. Next year will definitely be a change. I am excited about this year, but also sad because he is my best friend.�
�I am really going to miss her next year when I am at college,� Max said. �But I can�t wait to see where her career takes her.�
While their goals for the state meet are lofty, Max and Megan Reich don�t want to stop there. Max has already qualified for this summer�s U.S. Olympic trials in two events�� the 200-breaststroke and the 100-breastroke�� and he said that Megan is close to qualifying in three events. He said it would be great if they could both go to the Trials as competitors in June.
“I think she�s going to make it,� he said. �My goal is to have both of us at the Trials together. To have her there with me would be really cool.�
The Olympic Trials will be held in Omaha, Neb., from June 21-28. The top finishers in each event will be selected for the U.S. team that compete in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo beginning in late July.
Max said he has a lot of respect for his sister�s tenacity, and her willingness to take on multiple events and be successful in them.
�She is a tough cookie with her events,� he said. �I respect that so much.�
The two of them push one another, but never by trying to one-up one another. They each said their competitiveness is more with themselves than one another, as they try to lift one another up in any way they can.
�To have someone to confide in and talk about stuff with is so special,� Max said. �I am so proud of all that she has done. This past year she has just blown up, and I think she is only going to get better from this point.�