Karen and Alicia Iizuka
Courtesy of: Carmen Triola
By Swimming World Intern Carmen Triola

PISCATAWAY, New Jersey, January 12. BEWTEEN races, twins Karen and Alicia Iizuka are, in typical sibling fashion, in the middle of an argument. Both 14 years old and swimmers for Scarlet Aquatics, neither can decide who is the better athlete.

"I know she's faster than me," Karen says.


Alicia fervently denies it, saying Karen beats her at everything except the breaststroke. They keep at it for a few minutes, before they start giggling and come to a diplomatic conclusion: there is no concrete answer.

"I feel like most twins wouldn't like competing against each other," Karen said. Still, she adds, "you don't get lonely."

The two talked about their mutual love for shopping, reading and their shared group of friends (essentially all fellow swimmers), until conversation quickly goes back to swimming. Both talk about it just as passionately. Alicia started when she was seven, to help her asthma, and Karen, who does not share the condition, joined her shortly after.

"Swimming takes up our whole life," Alicia said.

They are, however finding the competition getting steeper as they enter high school, they said. At 12, they were with the lower groups within Scarlet Aquatics, but soon enough they'll have to compete with senior level groups -- they turn 15 soon -- and adapt accordingly. They fully plan on swimming in college as well, probably at Rutgers, where their older sister attends. Until then, though, they're enjoying what they learn at Scarlet Aquatics, and from each other.

"We give each other tips, and cheer for each other," Karen said.

Still, there are downsides. It's enough to get confused normally as twins, but being on the same team, people inevitably compare the two in their training. In general, though, the comparisons aren't too bad. One always pushes the other to be much better.