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Closer than teammates

Whatever choices third year Dalhousie University swimmer Julia Sarty made to further her swimming career, her younger sister Isabel had to follow exactly the same way.

The sisters are separated by two years and both started recreational swimming when they were six; when Julia decided to do more competitive swimming at age 11, Isabel wanted to as well, because Julia had decided to do more competitive swimming. But Isabel waited until she was 11, too.

“I had to wait until I was the same age as Julia was to make the switch over because I didn’t want to do anything different from Julia,” said Isabel Sarty.

This year Isabel decided to join Julia on the Dal swim team and has just completed her first semester.

Isabel is removed from being that former stereotypical younger sibling that wants to follow their older sibling exactly, but Julia did have a big impact on why Isabel decided to become a Tiger.

The sisters grew up in Halifax so Isabel was already around the team often over the past two years. She’s become friends with members of the team and saw from the inside as to what the team was like.

“If Julia hadn’t already been swimming on [the team] I would have only been looking in on it from the outside, I wouldn’t have had the urge to be on the team,” says Isabel.

Both sisters believe being on the same university team has made them closer.

Being on the Dal team is different than the previous teams they’ve been on together. It’s a smaller environment and Isabel says they both share the same best friends as teammates.

That close relationship allows the sisters to be great teammates. Since they’ve grown up with one another, they know what motivates each other and they don’t mind being frank with one another.

“She’s pretty good at saying what I need, as with other teammates they wouldn’t be as comfortable saying what I needed to hear – your sister always knows,” says Julia.

They also push each other by example as well: Julia stopped drinking flavoured lattes because of the unnecessary boost in sugar, which swayed Isabel to stop drinking those as well.

“If one person starts doing something that benefits them the other one has to do it too,” says Isabel.

Julia’s experience on the swim team helped Isabel make a smooth transition to university life, helping her navigate the first month of it: Julia introduced her to classes and showed her what the swim team is like so Isabel felt she was really prepared for it.

“It is a big transition because school and athletics can’t always work together super well if its new but if you know what to expect, how practices and classes work together. And she didn’t need to feel reserved because she already knew everyone so she was able to jump right in and have a good start to the season,” said Julia.

Isabel’s had a fantastic start as a Tiger. She’s finished first or second in every race so far. At the Kemp Fry invitational, she won the 100-meter, 200m and 400m freestyle events all with U Sports nationals qualifying times. She even broke an Dal record in the 200m, and was named Dalhousie, AUS and U Sports athlete of the week for her performance.

Julia isn’t as dominant as her sister, usually finishing in the fourth to seventh place range, but her bond with her sister makes her extremely proud of Isabel’s accomplishments.

“She’s my sis and whenever she does well it makes me extra happy and I’ll be the loudest one screaming on the pool deck for her,” says Julia.

Isabel confirms that’s the case.

“One race at the Kemp Fry swim meet I finished one of my races and I got a best time and the first thing I heard when I got my ears out of the water was Julia screaming ‘that’s my sister’ and it made me so happy. I always see her cheering for me on the side deck and I cheer for her. It is really nice because even though everyone is a family on the swim team, we’re all so close, it is just extra special to have even a closer bond and it makes me so happy.”

The women’s swim team come off the winter break ranking 10th nationally – the only AUS team in the top 10. They’re contenders to take home their 17th straight conference championship. It’ll mean a lot for the Sarty sisters to do that together because it is unusual that two sisters win the AUS swimming championship together.

“It would mean a lot in the fact that it would represent that we’ve been together all these years and still remain best friends,” said Isabel.


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