Twins Katharine and April Long compete with different strokes for Cyclones


Andrew Clawson/Iowa State Daily

Sisters Katharine Long, sophomore in pre-diet and exercise, and April Long, sophomore in kinesiology and health, compete together on the ISU swimming team.

Kristin Peterson

For any family, having a Division I athlete is a rarity, but the Long family has two.

Twins, Katharine and April Long, both are members of the ISU swimming and diving team this year.

Katharine, sophomore at Iowa State, competed last year as a member of the Iowa State swim team and a competitor in the Big 12 Championships.

April joined the team this year sharing her sister’s dreams to swim at the college level.

Iowa State is fairly far from the twins’ hometown of Allen, Texas. But both girls found the new state as a new adventure.

“It was just kind of random,” Katharine said. “I wanted to get out of Texas somewhere. … I’d never lived in Iowa, since we moved around a lot, so we decided Iowa State sounded pretty cool.”

Although their father, John Long, said they have always been competitive with each other, April and Katharine both specialize in different strokes.

“[Growing up,] it was fun: We always could race. We had different events, but some of the events were the same. It was really nice always having someone to compete with.” April said.

Katharine does backstroke and April does breaststroke, but both are also considered individual medley competitors. 

Growing up, the individual medley helped bring out the competitive side for the sisters.

“They have different strengths on each of their strokes, so they would basically jockey back and forth as they were swimming,” John Long said. 

“April would always start in the lead, and then Katharine would come back in the backstroke and get in front of her. And then April would catch back up in the breaststroke. And then it was whoever had enough left to finish in the freestyle. So it was always neat to watch that.”

This year, because of Katharine’s injury, the sisters will likely not have an opportunity to compete against each other in the Individual Medley.

“Since I am injured, I don’t swim very often at swim meets [or] do the I.M. [Individual Medley] since I haven’t been able to do fly in a few years,” Katharine said.

Regardless, Katharine was excited when her sister made the choice to swim for Iowa State and compete and practice alongside her.

“It was really nice since we have been swimming with each other since we were 7,” Katharine said. “So it is nice having her at practice and swim meets and stuff.”

April, who transferred and joined the team, said having her sister on the team really wasn’t an incentive. She liked the major program Iowa State had to offer and jumped at the chance when offered an opportunity to swim.

April had talked to coaches for Iowa State while in high school but did not go to Iowa State immediately after graduation.

“She really wanted to go to Iowa State, but she wanted to try the Navel Academy first,” Their father, John, said. “I think Iowa State was on her list just as it was Katharine’s. … I think in the end when she hurt her knee and couldn’t attend the Navel Academy, then the fact that Katharine enjoyed it helped her cement where she was going to go next.”

These sisters will continue to compete together this season as Katharine continues her run at Iowa State, and April joins her in competition as a member of the ISU swimming and diving team.