Houston High School Athletics


Houston High twins hope to make a splash at Olympic swim trials


Daily Memphian | 6/15/2024

PHOTO CREDIT: Benjamin Naylor/Daily Memphian

For many of the competitors, the United States Olympic swimming trials in Indianapolis that run Saturday through June 23 will serve as the ultimate pass-fail final.

Finish in first or second and you’re headed to Paris to represent Team USA at the 2024 Olympics. But if not, it’s four more years of grinding, waiting and hoping — if not the end of competitive swimming altogether.

Not so for Eva and Roos Rottink. The Houston High School twins have massive dreams and they hope that the massive venue that is Lucas Oil Stadium will serve as a nurturing point for their considerable talents and Team USA aspirations.

“This meet is totally different than any other meet they’ll go to,” said Dan Schultz, who coaches the class of 2026 standouts at the Memphis Thunder Aquatic Club. “For a lot of athletes — college, post-grad — this will be their final meet. They’re working up toward making the Olympic team and if they don’t do that, they’re largely done with the sport.

“Just going in, looking at it as a learning experience. They’ll be in the same pool as Katie Ledecky and Kate Douglass and Caeleb Dressel. Essentially the superstars of the sport. ... It’s almost like a pre-SAT. You go in, take the test and hopefully in four more years, you make marked improvements.”

Certainly, the girls will be competing with eyes firmly fixed on the future rather than the here and now. Roos (pronounced rose) is seeded 34th in the 100-meter backstroke and 38th in the 200-meter backstroke. Daily Memphian Girls Swimmer of the Year Eva (pronounced ay-va) enters as the 53rd seed in the 100 back.

Simply making the field in Indy is a significant accomplishment. Approximately 800 swimmers in the U.S. reached qualifying standards for the trials — out of a pool of some 316,000 registered competitors.

Most also will be considerably older than the 16-year-olds, including former Collierville standout and current Arizona State competitor Erin Milligan (seeded 70th in the 50 freestyle and 45th in the 100 free) and MUS grad Zion James of Columbia (39th in the 50 free).

Like Schultz said, it will be a learning experience. A chance to — literally and figuratively — get their feet wet at the highest levels. That’s reason enough for the twins to be excited.

And a bit apprehensive as well.

“I don’t know what to expect,” said Eva, the older of the two by about 15 minutes. “I’m sure we’ll be overwhelmed; it’s in a football stadium. ... Coming home and knowing what you need to work. Staying positive (and) having a good mindset (would spell success).”

Added Roos, “For me, I think it would be nice to have time improvements and see if I move up a rank or two from where I’m seeded. I haven’t really checked honestly because that stresses me out ... I like being a little ignorant about that. I just want to improve.”

They’ve both already come quite a long way.

The twins were born in the Netherlands and moved to the United States at the age of four. Their dad’s work took the family — which includes their mom and older brother Sil, a standout defender on Houston’s soccer team — first to Pittsford in upstate New York and then to Memphis.

They were about seven when they were introduced to swimming.

“We started off playing soccer,” said Roos. “I feel like everybody starts off playing soccer. But Eva and I have always loved the water so my mom was like ‘OK, I think it would be a good idea to put them into swimming.’ We didn’t like it at first; we’re stubborn.”

Said Eva, “Playing in the water is different from swimming in the water.”

They had a couple of things going for them though beyond stubborn. One, an innate natural talent that they’ve honed through countless early-morning sessions before school and plenty of late nights too while their friends were doing normal teenage stuff.

Evidence of that came at the Tennessee Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association state championship meet held in February in Nashville. Eva placed first in the 100-yard backstroke and second in the 200 free, Roos won the 100 butterfly and both swam on Houston’s victorious 200 medley relay squad, teaming with fellow rising juniors Taylor Cole and Samantha Riggen.

And two, they share a drive that comes — in large part — from their close relationship.

“Eva and I have always been really competitive since we’re twins and we swim in the same events,” Roos said. “We grew from each other since we’re always racing each other. ‘Who’s (going to be) first?’

And Eva said, “It’s both (friendly and serious). We respect each other; we’re happy for each other. If she beats me, I’m not going to hold it against her.”

Out of the pool, the similarities continue. Both girls confess to a serious shopping addiction while Roos keeps her family and friends well stocked with baked goods — cookies in particular.

They both harbor the same Olympic dreams as well. Next week will lay a foundation for what they hope are spots in the 2028 Games in Los Angeles. By virtue of their birth, they could opt to compete for the Netherlands.

But representing the U.S. — the country with far more swimming golds and total medals than any other — is the goal. They’re competitors, remember?

And, always, twin sisters.

“We do a lot of stuff together,” said Eva. “We’re always there for each other. Obviously sometimes it can be annoying because you get compared a lot but I’m lucky to have her. She’s like my built-in best friend.”

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