Three sets of sisters are now swimming together on the Hillsdale College women’s swim team. Having a sister brings and yet also some struggle, the swimmers said.

The sisters shared how the team has brought them a lot closer with each other and with the team as a whole. Having family members on the team, they all explained, really creates an even stronger family atmos­phere.

Alison and Hayley Johnson, Lauren and Carson Burt, and Hannah and Sarah Leitner are the three sets of sisters.

Hayley and Alison share even more DNA than most sets of sisters; they are twins. Alison explained that because they’re twins, “we’ve always swam together. It’s nice having someone you’re close to and more com­fortable with. We really don’t focus on com­peting with each other.”

Lauren Burt, a senior, and her little sister Carson, swim in some of the same events. While it would be easy for them to be com­pet­itive with each other, they both agree they’ve never viewed it as a com­pe­tition between them.

“We’ve always been really sup­portive of each other, but we always joke and tease each other outside of the water,” Carson said.

“We don’t really compete with each other, but if one of us is tired, the other is just like “Okay, let’s go!” Lauren added.

All three sets of sisters have swam together for at least twelve years. Hannah and Sarah Leitner swam together until Sarah left for college in 2009. Today, they are enjoying swimming together now that Hannah is a freshman on the team.

“It’s great to be swimming with her again and to see how she’s improved. It’s great because we’ve swam together for so long, so I know what to expect from her and her times,” senior Sarah Leitner said.

Each set of sisters described how helpful it was to have a sibling with them.

“Coming to Hillsdale was probably a lot easier having my older sister here,” Hannah Leitner explained. “I know it made me feel more com­fortable both on the team and in general. As a freshman coming in, I think it also makes it more com­fortable for the other freshman too, knowing the upper­classmen sisters.”

Having a sister on the team ben­efits the older sisters just as much as the younger sisters, Lauren Burt noted.

“Carson helps me a lot and knows how I’ll react. She gets me through the tough times when I run out of patience,” Burt said.

“It really makes it feel like a big family,” Sarah Leitner said. “I feel like the other girls on the team get a lot of enter­tainment from watching the little sister-big sister inter­ac­tions. There’s nothing big, but they find it really enter­taining.”

All together, all the sister rela­tion­ships seem to make a close team even closer. Because there’s a family rela­tionship among the sisters, that closeness spreads throughout the team.

“I’ve seen the team grow closer. We’re like a swim team family. With Carson swimming and the other sets of sisters, we’ve def­i­nitely grown closer,” Lauren Burt said. “It strengthens the bond of the team.”

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Amanda Tindall
Amanda Tindall is the features editor of the Collegian. From northeastern Nebraska, she hopes to move back to the east coast after graduation in 2016. She has worked at the Washington Post Express and the Toledo Free Press, and her favorite form of writing is long-form features and magazine pieces. Email: