Thomas Trace of the Upper Arlington High School boys swimming and diving team had an inauspicious introduction to the sport.
The senior laughs now, but during his first lesson with the UA Swim Club more than a decade ago, he couldn't get out of the water fast enough.
"I came close to drowning," said Trace, the third of six siblings, all of whom are swimmers. "I was maybe 6 or 7. I'd never been in the water before. I went in and tried out. I didn't make it but Betsy (his twin sister) made the cut, so I had to go to all of her swim meets. I watched her and during the summer, Mike (de Bear, now UA's boys coach) taught me how to swim. I came back and skipped the first level for the Swim Club and hopped right into the second stage."
That overachieving hasn't stopped.
Last November, Thomas signed to swim at Ohio State and Betsy signed with Eastern Michigan. Their older sister, Amy, a 2011 UA graduate, swam her freshman season at Miami University. All three have Division I state meet experience, and last year Thomas placed second at state in the 50-yard freestyle (20.94 seconds) and fourth in the 100 backstroke (49.99).
"They're pool rats," de Bear said. "They've all turned out to be very good. Tom and Sarah (the Traces' parents) have done a great job keeping them interested for this long. For one family to have that many kids get through it, it's pretty special for sure."
Freshman twins Julie and Katie earned varsity spots to begin this season, and younger brother, Jack, 9, competes with the UA Swim Club.
The Trace siblings' athleticism was passed down from their parents. Tom played football at Capital University and currently serves as an assistant coach with the UA football and wrestling teams. He also is a former varsity swim coach.
Tom and Sarah both teach at Jones Middle School.
"They're a great family," girls coach Dan Peterkoski said. "We've had the Traces in the program for a while now. There's an ingrained expectation of the process and what it takes to be successful."
Peterkoski prefers that friend and family are the same in his program -- an attitude Julie shares.
"Our coach says to treat everyone on the team like family," Julie said. "Everyone on this team is like my family, so it's just like normal."
Thomas and Katie have had particularly noteworthy seasons thus far, as UA prepares for the OCC-Central Division meet on Saturday, Jan. 25, at Thomas Worthington.
According to the state honor roll last week on swim-meet.com, Thomas had top-10 times in Division I in the 100 back (fourth, 51.44), 50 free (sixth, 21.5) and 100 free (eighth, 47.42) and was 17th in the 200 individual medley (1:59.29).
Katie was sixth in the state in the 500 free (5:02.39), 15th in the 200 free (1:55.38) and 17th in the 200 IM (2:10.2).
She recorded her first varsity meet win in her third competition, winning the 500 free (5:07.26) in a 120-65 win over Gates Mills Hawken on Dec. 14 at Hunting Valley University School.
"You get a lot better as a freshman, but I don't think I anticipated this much progress," Katie said. "It definitely is something to enjoy."
The Trace siblings downplay any talk of a rivalry within their family, saying that they are each other's biggest fans. However, they acknowledge that they do feel some pressure to perform at an elite level.
"No one wants to be the one person who isn't as good as the others," said Betsy, who is three minutes older than Thomas.
"We all sort of like the idea of having a really good swimming family. It's not something that I typically think about while training, but when you let your mind wander, it's something that pops up, that we're all doing this and doing well."
Betsy, who helped the girls 200 medley relay place fourth at state last season in addition to finishing 18th in the 50 free, admits that she looks to the future on occasion.
"At that point when Thomas and I are seniors and Katie and Julie are freshmen in college, it'll be pretty cool if we have four in college all swimming," she said.
"Maybe at some invitational we'll end up all swimming against each other in the same place."