As they entered the final turn, sisters Billy and Currie Murch Elliot went stroke for stroke, nearly inseparable to the naked eye. Billy took a quick peek and realized, as usual, the two were virtually tethered together.
Despite their best efforts, since the womb they’ve always been linked. As 10-year-olds swimming in different heats of a 100 IM race, Billy and Currie posted the same time down to the hundredth of a second.
Genetically identical, this time the carbon copies touched within 0.02 seconds of each other on that December night in Akron, Ohio. In a 400 IM race that lasts more than four minutes, the difference in their touches came seven times faster than the blink of an eye. Billy went out 0.01 second faster in the first 50 meters, Currie was 0.01 faster at 200 and doubled that lead by the end of the race. Unsurprisingly, their names remained stacked together on the results sheet – just as they do on Cornell’s massive record board affixed in Teagle Pool to signify their 200 and 400 IM school records.
"When we swim next to each other, we probably have the best races of our lives," Billy said. "I'm really happy we don't race that much, because it's super stressful. You have this person who is an exact physical copy of yourself, so if she beats you..."
The three sisters are all ranked among the top 10 swimmers in Cornell history in the 100 breaststroke – Billy in third (1:03.67), Cape in fourth (1:03.94) and Currie in sixth (1:04.05) – separated by less than a half-second.
The twins already have their names peppered throughout the Big Red record book. Currie holds the school mark in the 1,000 free (10:01.06) and the 400 IM (4:18.79) and has six individual top 10 event swims along with one relay. Billy has the record in the 200 IM (2:02.72) and finds her name in the top 10 three times individually and four times as part of relays.
Billy enters the Ivy League championship meet looking to take over the 200 back record, where her best time of the season was just 0.27 seconds off the mark and 0.12 behind her career-best time. Currie, meanwhile, chases a 24-year-old record in the 1,650 free - swimming's version of the marathon. Cape has had a fantastic rookie season, posting the squad's top time in the 200 breast (2:22.53) and the second-fastest touch in the 100 breast.
On night one of the 2017 Ivy League Championships in Providence, R.I., Cape and Billy swam the middle legs of the 200 medley relay that posted the school’s third fastest time in school history. A few minutes later, Currie led off the 800 free relay that shaved more than two seconds off the Big Red record. The team she helped bump to No. 2 was led off by her twin sister back in 2014.