A brother-sister swimming duo is showing just how strong their gene pool is.
Samuel and Maude Boily-Dufour of Sarnia are each making a splash on the competitive swim circuits.
Maude, 16, an eleventh-grader at Saint-François-Xavier, won gold, two silver and a bronze at the Ontario Provincial Championships last month, compiling the most points of any swimmer over the six races.
Samuel, 18, who just finished his junior year at Laurentian University in Sudbury, had an impressive sixth place finish at the OUAs, (Ontario University Athletics) and a 15th place finish nationally.
But blood is thicker than water, and the siblings share a bond in and out of the pool, they agreed.
Samuel said a rivalry spurs them on. Last winter, a point of contention emerged after Samuel clinched a spot at the Olympic Trials.
“I was talking to her, behind her block before her race and I said, ‘Two weeks ago when we got into a fight about this, well this is your chance… to have your say in the argument,’” said Samuel.
It seemed to work: Maude achieved the time needed and earned her spot alongside her brother.
“He knows me so well. He knew exactly how to do that,” she said.
“He would say, ‘You can’t do a certain pace time’ and I’d say, ‘Yes I can!’ and then show him that I could.”
Maude and Samuel began competitive swimming early and joined the Sarnia Rapids, which trains out of YMCA.
Maude participated in many sports growing up but after her brother gravitated to swimming followed suit.
“It was a good choice,” she said with a laugh.
“When I was younger, I was super jealous of my brother. I saw him making provincials and making really big meets.”
The sibling bond helped after Samuel developed a potentially career-ending heart condition in February of 2016.
While training at the YMCA he felt something wasn’t quite right but continued to push himself – as he’d always done. But he collapsed and was rushed to hospital where it was discovered he had supra-ventricular tachycardia – a heart rhythm disorder.
“Basically, the nerves in my heart misfire,” he explained.
But Samuel is now back at it, following surgery and the support of his team and sister.
The heart condition ended up costing him a U.S. university scholarship, but Samuel was relieved to learn that if he took care of himself and watched for signs and symptoms he could continue swimming competitively.
Him mental approach to the sport has been reset, and he now swims more for himself.
“I like to tell myself that someone else may have given up, but I don’t want to.”
Samuel said he’s excited to see what’s in store for his sister.
“She’s actually progressing further than I ever had at the peak of my career,” he said. “Before my heart, I’m not sure where I could’ve reached, but at this point right now she has reached further than I have.”
Maude, who hopes to work in medicine one day, said her immediate goal is a full-ride scholarship at a U.S. university. A spot on Canada’s national squad would also be nice, she said.
She attributed much of her success, including six medals at the national junior level, to her brother’s influence.
“We’ve always been extremely close. We’ve always been through everything together. We just have something that some siblings don’t,” she said.
“We have this bond that we don’t even have to talk to each other, we just know what’s going on. That’s what I love about us.”