Whether running for their school track team, operating the school store, competing in 5K races with their mother or swimming for the James P. Gills Family YMCA swim team, the Cancello sisters define what it means to be active. • Claudia and Elaina are twins, 14, and are in their last year before high school, and Katherine, 10, has taken after her sisters in the pool.
"It's great to watch them compete together," the girl's mother, Jenny Cancello, said. "I like this because the girls have something in common — it's a bonding experience. They all help each other and aren't that competitive with each other."
The girls can draw inspiration from their mother who, in the past, has completed triathlons and remains an avid runner of 5Ks. The bond it has created with her daughters is visible.
"It's funny 'cause they teach me things that the coaches teach them," Cancello said. "I think it's in the genes. My father and brother were runners also and now my kids have always been active whether it was soccer, swimming or running races with me."
Each of the girls brings something different to the swim team. The twins may look alike, however, as swimmers they are very different.
"Even though they're identical twins they have two very different styles," YMCA swim coach Joe Lampkin said. "One is better at sprinting and the other will be a good mid distance swimmer. I'm glad they wear different colored swimsuits though, otherwise it would be hard to tell them apart when they're not in the pool."
The twins plan to swim for the high school team if given the chance. Their departure from the YMCA team means the younger Katherine will be left behind. Lampkin is confident Katherine will stick with swimming despite the absence of her sisters and feels she's going to be a good swimmer.
"Katherine is a very powerful swimmer," Lampkin said. "All three have really good techniques and attitudes, but when she swims, she is very good. With a swimmer her age, it's important that you don't burn them out, so I don't push her too hard, but as she grows, she will only get better."
For the girls, swimming with the YMCA provides them with what they feel is a formidable challenge that is always enjoyable.
"Sometimes after school we don't want to go," Katherine said. "Things like the butterfly aren't easy ’cause it takes a lot of energy, but once we get started with practice it's always fun."
For the family, the girl's remaining time together is something to relish.
"I'll miss them all being at the same meets because it's fun to watch them cheer for each other as teammates," Cancello said. "Every time they compete, their grandparents come with us and if they're competing against each other we divide up whose names we're going to yell."
As a teacher at Seven Springs Middle School, Jenny Cancello sees the benefit of the kids' recreational activity from multiple points of view.
"As a teacher, I work with kids whose parents have to beg them to do homework or be active," Cancello said. "I'm lucky. The girls go to the YMCA for practice and they come home and do their homework without me having to say anything to them about it."
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