Girls Swimming: Sport just part of balancing act for Gena and Erika Tanquilut
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media September 29, 2013 8:50PM
Gena (left) and Erika Tanquilut, of Lincoln-Way West. | Vincent D. Johnson/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 1, 2013 6:15AM
The life of a high school athlete can be the definition of hectic. The practices, the meets, classes and homework.
The Tanquilut sisters, Gena and Erika, of Lincoln-Way West, certainly know that. As swimmers on the Warriors varsity, the sisters have taken it up a notch.
On top of their participation with the swim team, the Tanquiluts also play in the Lincoln-Way West/Central orchestra.
A little hectic in terms of schedule? Yeah, one could say that.
“It can be really stressful at times, but the thing is, I like being really busy,” Erika, a sophomore, said. “I like doing it all.”
Keeping so many plates spinning is a matter of staying focused, even if a good nap sure sounds appealing.
“It’s really busy, very time-consuming,” Gena, a senior, said. “There’s barely any free time. You have to focus 24/7 and keep your head in line. You can fall behind really quickly if you don’t. It’s hard to stay on track, but that determination to just keep going is there.”
Swimming is in the Tanquilut blood, both girls starting at a young age in the pool. The classical instruments were not far behind. Gena plays the violin while Erika plays the viola, an instrument slightly larger than a violin.
“Swimming has been around in the family since my mom was a kid,” Gena said. “Ever since I was little, I liked swimming and being in the water.”
On a normal school day, the Tanquiluts head to their first-period class, orchestra, then get in an hour of practice. Every other Monday, the classes from both Central and West have a rehearsal, too. Then there’s swimming practice, mixed in with a dual meet or two during the week and maybe an invitational on the weekend.
Gena is one of 11 seniors on the team while Erika, as a sophomore, is in her second year on the varsity. In her time at West, Gena has transitioned into a sprinter from the breaststroke while Erika mixes it up, swimming both the 100-yard freestyle and breaststroke.
Both are excited for what the season offers, however chaotically busy it is. The Warriors lost star Emily Gallagher, a three-time state qualifier, to graduation.
“With so many seniors, we’re hoping we can step up and take things to the next level,” Gena said. “We can’t rely on one person. Our team is looking pretty good.”
As for the sister connection, it doesn’t hurt to have some help through the busy times.
“It’s really helpful having (Gena) there. I don’t think I could do it all without her,” Erika said.