A Sisterhood Develops At Berkeley Aquatic Club

By Swimming World Intern Brook Jiang

PISCATAWAY, New Jersey, January 12. SWIMMING not only brings you into the water, but into people’s hearts. Breathing and swimming the same water, friendship is easily born. In the Berkeley Aquatic Club, there is one such bond among three members of the team.

Brooke Sharkey, Gabrielle Werner and Tyra Daruwalla kicked off their friendship in seventh grade. Waking up at 4 a.m. every day and seeing each other almost every hour is the most horrifying and amazing part of a swimming friendship.

“If I can say hi to them at 4 a.m.,” said Daruwalla, “then we’re friends.”

Swimming is an extremely challenging sport, so every swimmer has to put in their best effort.

“We always work so hard,” said Werner. “It’s different from school, because we’re spending more time every week in the pool.”

“I feel that I only swim because of my friends,” said Sharkey, adding that the most important thing about their friendship is that they always encourage each other to strive for excellence.

While Sharkey was at the junior national championships while Werner and Daruwalla were competing in the senior nationals, they would always make time to meet. For freshman year, Sharkey could only see her two friends at practice for a minute. But, they would meet after practice and have “sleepovers” where a day’s hard work meant just sleep for the teenagers.

Last year, the three friends competed for the title of New Jersey Swimming Athlete Representative. Although it was a competition, it was more friendly than aggressive.

“We had so much fun,” said Daruwalla. “I remember I asked someone to vote for me, but they asked me if I was Gabby.” Gabby would later win with her cleverly-placed posters.

The 2012-2013 swimming season was important because it was the first time that all three competed on Berkeley’s senior team. Last summer, they also trained together at Colorado Springs’ Olympic Training Center for three weeks.

“Being stuck together for three weeks was terrible and wonderful at the same time,” said Werner. Afterwards, it was difficult for them to not see each other again until the weekend.

“I think I know too much about these people,” remarked Daruwalla.

Whenever they are available, the friends spend time together by going to dinner and gossiping after school. When asked to describe their friendship, the three friends called upon other members of the Berkeley Aquatic Club to help. Some words were friendly, quirky, crazy, funny, everlasting.

“I can see how we can be all those words,” Sharkey said. “We love to be crazy and dance on the (starting) block.”

After a few attempts to agree on a common word to describe them, the friends finally came up with the perfect word: “sisterhood.”

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Author: Jeff Commings

Jeff Commings is the Senior Writer for SwimmingWorld.com and Swimming World Magazine. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and was a nine-time NCAA All-American.

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