Swimming: Surhoff sisters finish season with a flourish for St. Paul's School for Girls

Sisters Kendall and Jordan Surhoff had a banner year swimming in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference, completing the season with several individual titles in the championship meet early last month.

Kendall, a St. Paul's School for Girls senior, took the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 freestyle while her sister, a junior at the Brooklandville school, took top honors in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke.

Their seasons are not over, however, considering the Cockeysville residents hope to qualify for theU.S. Olympic TeamTrials that begin June 25 in Omaha, Neb.

To that end, the Surhoffs are in the midst of training and competing with their North Baltimore Aquatic Club teammates for several high profile USA Swimming-sanctioned meets, the most recent of which, the Columbus Grand Prix, concluded March 11 at Ohio State University.

There are more to come, including one in Charlotte in May and Austin in June where the Surhoffs will attempt to earn Olympic Trials berths.

"Kendall is closest (to making the required times) in the 200 and 400 IM," said Erik Posegay, who coaches NBAC's high school-aged swimmers, about the long-course meet that is measured in meters. "Jordan's best chance is the 100 or 200 breaststroke."

The sisters understand that it won't be easy earning a spot at the trials, an accomplishment their older brother Austin already owns along with 18 other NBAC performers. The two-time All-American and 2010 NCAA 200 IM champ is preparing with his University of Texas teammates for the Division-I championship meet beginning March 22 in Seattle.

"I have had my sights set on the times for the past couple years," said Kendall, a University of North Carolina recruit. "Recently, however, I have been more focused on qualifying more than I have been for the past couple years. I would really like to, and I have been training to swim the times for so long that qualifying would just be amazing."

Jordan said that qualifying "is really important, just to have the experience of being there and to see how you do against great swimmers."

Their work ethic will serve them well in their quest, according to Posegay.

"What sets them apart is their dedication to the sport," he said. "They do things on a consistent basis that other kids just don't do. And they take constructive criticism very well."

For example, Posegay said that Jordan "had an issue with the breaststroke. Her head was too far back. Once we told her, she was able to take the feedback and adjust to it."

Likewise, a tweak of the position of Kendall's neck helped her turn one of her worst backstroke spilts in the IM to one of her best when in the IAAM final.

"They're very unassuming girls," Posegay said, knowing that their mom (Polly) was a standout swimmer at North Carolina and their dad (B.J.) had a 19-year Major League Baseball career, seven-and-a-half with the Orioles. "To Polly and B.J.'s credit, they don't breathe down your back. They make it easy to coach the girls."

And when working on four strokes, as Kendall does in the IM, knowing which stroke to focus on can be tricky.

"I have to work on each stroke equally before I work on one more than another," she said. "Because my strongest stroke is butterfly, I might do a bigger fly set then, say, a breaststroke set. But it is a balancing act between strokes. Recently, I have been doing a couple more backstroke sets per week because it's the stroke I need to work on the most."

While Jordan professes "to have no coordination on land," which precluded her from playing other sports, Kendall takes time off from swimming in the fall.

"I have played varsity field hockey for my high school for four years, so in the fall I kind of put swimming on the back burner," she said. "In some ways it bothers my coaches, but to me, once field hockey seasons ends, I am ready to get back in the pool and train with more enthusiasm."

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