By Meghan Moore
Duke Sports Information
DURHAM, N.C. - Swimming at Duke has always been a part of the Conklin family. It wasn't until Catherine and Caroline got to Durham that they realized just how unique the tradition they were carrying on was.
Both of their parents, Jeff and Teri Conklin, swam at Duke. Jeff, a three-time varsity letterwinner swam from 1976-79, and Teri, a four-time varsity letterwinner, swam from 1978-82.
"We never really heard about our parents' swimming experience growing up - they never really talked about it," said Catherine, who just finished her senior season. "All we ever heard was they met on the swim team at Duke, but since we've been here, they have begun to share more and more stories from when they were here. It's cool because some of our traditions are still same and it's interesting to be able to share that with our parents."
"I didn't realize how cool it was until I came here," added Caroline, a freshman on the team. "I think having other people to remind you just how cool it is, it's fun."
Another part of the Conklin family tradition is Nancy Hogshead, Catherine's godmother. Hogshead, who swam at Duke for one season, set a school record in eight different events. She was a four-time ACC Champion and two-time first team All-American in 1981. Hogshead went on to compete at the 1984 Olympics, where she captured three gold medals and one silver medal.
"My freshman year, when I first got here, Nancy was still on the record board," Catherine said. "She got shot down at the end of the season, but it was fun to practice and look up and still see her name on the board. It was inspiring. My relationship with Nancy is good. She has always been very open to the person we want to be and she's very supportive of that."
With all of their family ties to the program, it is no surprise that both Conklin sisters ended up swimming at Duke together.
"I think it influenced my decision," Catherine says. "I just thought it would be cool to share my college experience with my parents. You don't really know what they were like when they were younger and when they were here so it's kind of fun for them to relive it through us."
"For me, I was always like, 'No way, I'm not going to Duke. I'm going to be totally different,'" Caroline said. "But after my trip here in the fall of my senior year, I was like okay I get it."
Being at Duke together for the past year has been a special experience for both Catherine and Caroline. The sisters, who always shared their love for swimming, have become closer in and out of the pool as a result.
"We've been doing it our whole lives, but in high school we each had different things outside of swimming and now that doesn't really exist, so it's definitely brought us closer together," Catherine said.
"Catherine already being at Duke didn't really influence by decision, but now that I'm here, I don't think I would have been able to go to a school where I didn't know anyone," Caroline said. "It just made the entire transition so much smoother, and I think we've become closer because of it. Every Tuesday we get dinner together. It helps us get away from swimming and tie up the week, so we know what's going on in each others' lives."
Being a part of the Duke Swim team has been a special experience for the Conklin sisters, not only because of the friends and memories they've made, but because of the unique family tradition that they're carrying on.