For 9-year-old Grace Catherine Burton and her sister Anna Burton, who is quite proud to announce she is 10.5-years-old, watching Michael Phelps swim in the 2008 Beijing Olympics was “so cool”.
“We’ve been watching the Olympics like crazy,” Anna said.
“We were screaming when he (Phelps) won,” Grace said.
“They swim really fast and you want to be like them and work harder,” Anna said about watching the Olympic swimmers. It encourages you to work hard, eat right, and to be healthy.”
And according to Grace, “When you watch and you see how well they swim and they are so happy, it makes you want to strive to be that good.”
Not only was it inspirational but the two sister’s now, more than ever want to strive to be in the Olympics themselves.
Grace, who attends Cave Spring Elementary, has been swimming for four years and her older sister, Anna, who just started her first year at Hidden Valley Middle School has been swimming for seven years.
The two girls swim year round and every other year are placed in the same categories and must compete against each other due their close ages.
“It is hard sometimes, because we were competing against each other every other year. It’s hard because we are on the same team and it’s hard to get along sometimes,” Anna said. “It just makes you try harder and do better.”
“It is harder,” Grace agreed. “It does make you try harder, because my sister is a really fast swimmer.”
And both girls fully support each other.
“My sister is really good at the butterfly,” Anna said. “So, it’s really hard to compete against my sister. Grace is so much more laid back than I am. I am so competitive.”
Gale Burton, the girl’s mother, said, “I think it makes Anna feel good because she’s proud of her younger sister and Grace gets pumped up when her friends talk about Anna.”
Anna and Grace recently competed in the City/County Swim meet which was held this year at the Salem YMCA, July 25 and 26. They swim with the Marlins at the Carter Athletic Center at North Cross School.
“I get so excited watching my girls swim, but I get excited to see everyone’s kids swim,” Gale said. “It is a competition but everyone wants everyone’s children to do well. The Roanoke Valley Aquatic Association (RVAA) is real laid back and family oriented. It’s fun.”
These girls may share an interest in swimming, but Grace does not like to compete and Anna loves it. But mostly these girls love to swim for other reasons.
“Swimming gets me relaxed and gets me calm,” Anna said. “It makes me feel good about myself. You get to have fun and make friends. I like to swim because it gives you great exercise.”
Grace’s results at the City/County meet in July:
*4th place Gold in 50 Backstroke
*7th place Gold in 50 Butterfly
Anna’s results at the City/County meet in July:
*3rd place Gold in 50 Freestyle
*3rd place Gold in 100m (individual medley)
*8th place Gold in 50 Butterfly
*4th place Gold in 50 Breaststroke
Photo: Courtesy of Gale Burton
Grace and Anna Burton love to swim and frequently swim against each other at meets throughout the year.