BATH — They were born two minutes apart and have been swimming together for the past decade, since they were 7.

In the pool they are fiercely competitive, each a defending Class B state champion. They own or share seven Morse High School records.

But on land, particularly at the Bath Family Area YMCA where they spend many of their waking hours, Olivia and Haily Harper say they rarely butt heads.

At least, not about anything significant.

“Occasional disagreements,” Olivia said, “like who gets to sit in what seat in the car.”

Olivia is slightly older, three inches taller and likes to hunt whitetail deer with her dad. Haily has darker hair, wears a shoe two sizes smaller than her sister and is the only daughter with a driver’s license.

And while Haily is a defending state champion in the 100-yard breast stroke, Olivia is the state record holder in the 100 backstroke – (54.64 seconds at the state meet last February) and a three-time national age group champion.

In April, Olivia won the YMCA short-course national title in the 100-yard backstroke in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 53.71 seconds.

In August, at the University of Maryland, she won YMCA long-course national titles in backstroke at 100 meters (1:02.21) and 200 meters (2:15.75).

“Some people assume that jealousy goes on, but that’s just not the case,” Olivia said. “Haily is always so supportive of me, so kind. Whenever I won a title, she was always the first to give me a hug. She’s the person that I want to go to after a race.”

The Harpers are juniors at Morse, which is looking to improve on its fourth-place finish in Class B behind Cape Elizabeth, Greely and Mt. Desert Island. They also train year-round with the Long Reach Swim Club, based in Bath.

Talia Jorgensen, a senior at Cony High and a Long Reach teammate of the Harpers, said Olivia is the extrovert and Haily the introvert. “They bring out the best in each other,” she said.

In conversation, Olivia almost always speaks first.

“I was very shy growing up,” Haily said. “She always used to speak for both of us.”

Until one day, in a restaurant, Haily piped up and said she could order on her own, thank you very much.

“That definitely shocked me,” Olivia said. “Learning not to speak for her was a challenge for me.”

In addition to her backstroke mark, Olivia also owns school records in the 100-yard butterfly and 200 individual medley. Haily owns the 100 breast stroke record. They both swam on the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 free relays that set school records.

“They try not to be competitive with each other,” said Morse Coach Todd Marco. “They have great attitudes.”

Before reaching high school, they took part in soccer and cheering. Haily was even a flyer in cheering. But swimming soon became all-consuming.

“We enjoyed the sport so much,” Olivia said, “that we eliminated any others that conflicted with it.”

Because of her national success, Olivia is being recruited by NCAA Division I programs. Haily thinks she might prefer swimming for a club team in college. They understand they may wind up at different schools.

“Going up through middle school and high school, Olivia and I always stuck together and we did a lot of the same things,” Haily said. “And now we’re really focusing on our own lives.”

Of course, college can wait. The high school swim season is here. Between club and high school practices and meets, there’s a lot of driving to do. Haily will be behind the wheel and Olivia in charge of the radio.

Ahead, their lane is wide open. For a while longer, they’re traveling it together.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

[email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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