From playing in their backyard swimming pool in southern California, to competing in equestrian sports after moving to Enumclaw and going back to the pool for both swimming and water polo, twin sisters Katie and Allie Larrea have done everything together.
In their lifetime, six days is the longest the sisters have been apart, Katie said.
Things will change next fall, however, when she bids her family adieu and heads back to the place where she originally grew up, Long Beach, Calif., to play competitive water polo for California State University at Long Beach.
"I basically just fell in love with the school," she said after a recruiting trip this past summer. "It just felt like it was a great fit."
Katie signed her letter of intent Friday afternoon at Enumclaw High School in front of her family, coaches and school staff.
The separation will be an adjustment, but Allie aims to stay in the Pacific Northwest with her family and attend Green River Community College. "I just wanted to stay here because I was more nervous about leaving home," she said.
Both profess a passion for the sport of water polo, but Katie said she wanted to take it a step further and play at the collegiate level. She is looking forward to exploring her independence too. "I'm just really excited to be playing," she said. "It will be interesting to be on my own; we'll see how I do with that."
Mom Sherrie Larrea shares her daughter's excitement. "I'm going to miss Katie a lot. ...It will be weird to not have them home but hopeflly I'll get to run up some frequent flyer miles and go see her, and hopefully she'll get some play time her first year."
Introduction to Competitions
Sherrie said the girls never participated in any sort of competitions until they moved to Enumclaw, and even then it was in equestrian events. One competition, she recalled, had the girls shooting weapons, completing jumps on horseback, running and swimming, so they headed to the local pool for lessons in racing in the pool.
They were in 8th grade then, and there they were met by Lindsay Bowden, then the high school swim teach captain, who invited them to try out for the swim team. At the same time, water polo coaches took notice of the Larrea girls' statuesque heights and suggested they try their sport as well, Sherrie said.
Looking back, it seems natural her girls succeeded in these sports. "They were always water lovers," mom said. "I was always trying to get them out of the pool."
An Accomplished Competitor and Team Leader
The girls have competed for both the swim and dive teams and the water polo teams their entire high school careers.
As a junior, Katie, earned First Team All League, First Team All State, and Fourth Team All-American Honors in water polo and helped to lead the Hornets to a 24-2 record and claim third place at the Washington State Water Polo Championships, according to head coach Bob Averill.
The Hornets have competed in the State tournament for seven straight years.
Katie also competed in the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics for the past two years with her club team, Pacific Northwest shores, based at the King County Aquatic Center, and has also been a member of the USA Water Polo Olympic Development Program Pacific Northwest Team for the past two years.
In swimming, she qualified for the Washington State Tournament in two events as a junior and four events as a senior.
The signing of letters of intent are typically spotlighted for athletes of more common sports including soccer, baseball and even golf. Katie's achievement is the first for EHS's water polo program - boys or girls, said Averill. "It's a big accomplishment," he said. "We're all kind of excited."
Most students who pursue water polo post high school compete in Junior Olympics or in collegiate programs in the Pacific Northwest, but these programs operate more like clubs rather than Division 1, he said. "Long Beach is definitely a bigger water polo school."