Ted and Joe Steinkamp may be identical twin swimmers for North Central High School, but there’s little similar in how they approach the sport.
For the most part, they will be competing in different events this weekend in the state championship meet at the Natatorium at IUPUI.
The Steinkamps do just about everything together, including traveling to school and home from practice, but in the interests of avoiding drowning in the otherwise all-consuming sport, they hardly talk about training, tapering, shaving and what goes on in the water.
There is one major exception to the non-swimming conversation habit. When one brother does something special, the other brother will offer a simple, “Good job.” That’s it. An understated “good job.” But they know it comes from the heart and it means more than flowery compliments from someone else.
As they approach the final meet of their high school careers, the Steinkamps are vying for high state individual finishes but also represent one of a trio of schools with a first-rate chance to capture the team title. North Central, Chesterton and Carmel — all sectional winners — loom as favorites for the title.
“We got the number of swims we wanted,” North Central coach Matthew Papachronis said. “We lost one swim that we were kind of expecting, but it’s really hard to walk away from sectionals 100 percent satisfied. I was proud of my guys.”
Those guys include the Steinkamp brothers. Ted won the 50-yard freestyle (21.57 seconds) and 100 butterfly (51.52), and swam legs on the state-qualifying 200 medley and the 200 free relays. Joe qualified with a second place in the 100 free (47.02) and a third in the 200 free (1:43.73), and swam on the 200 free relay (the only event in which the twins overlap) and on the 400 free relay.
One thing the Steinkamps chuckle about (probably true of all twins) is when they hear that people can’t tell them apart. They think their differences are obvious, but that’s inside-the-family stuff. Papachronis said it isn’t that easy.
“It took me almost the whole first season to tell them apart,” he said. “Their personalities (in and out of the water) are different.”
And this year, Ted’s events are different. North Central was blessed with a gaggle of sprinters, so he focused on the butterfly as a specialty for the first time.
One issue for the Steinkamps is whether they will keep swimming in college. Ted is considering attending Indiana University or North Carolina and may or may not swim. Joe is looking at Cincinnati, South Carolina or Miami of Ohio. “I’m looking to swim for sure,” he said. “I still love the sport.”
That’s later. State is now.
“I’m definitely psyched up,” Joe said.