Lugbill sisters prepare for college separation next fall

Divyana Bose | Staff Writer

Ashley and Reece Lugbill wait in the pool before starting practice. Ashley Lugbill will be attending Southern Methodist University while Reece will be over 1,000 miles away attending Notre Dame University.

For one set of twins, this swim season brings one last hurrah before they separate for the first time in 18 years.

Twin sisters Reece and Ashley Lugbill will be looking to finish off their high school swim careers strong this winter. However, next year at this time, they will be doing something they´ve never experienced before. Miles apart, they will potentially be facing off instead of competing together while attending different universities.

Recently, Ashley signed her National Letter of Intent (NLI) to continue her swim career at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. On the same day, Reece signed her NLI to attend the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana — over one thousand miles away.

The sisters have been swimming together since they were two years old, now swimming out their last season in the same pool. For now, they plan to soak in every last opportunity on the MHS swim team as their high school career comes to an end.

In a season that could be cut short at any time due the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lugbill sisters’ unique relationship has helped them develop a strong bond. They also know that in just a few short months, that bond will be put to the test when they have to say their goodbyes and begin to focus on independent life after high school — something that Ashley said will take some getting used to.

“It is definitely going to be a weird experience without her by my side when I need her through my bad days,” Ashley said. “The longest we have ever been apart is four days, but we plant to stay in contact everyday, even though we are close to seven hours away from each other.”

Both Lugbill sisters have always held each other to high expectations. Reese said that she has relied heavily on her sister to lean on and learn from in the pool. Ashley has been a motivating force in Reese’s competitive nature and the goals she has set for herself in order to get her to where she is today.

¨She works so hard and it pushes me to my fullest potential every practice or meets that we have,¨ Reese said. ¨We keep each other accountable and were there for each other, which just helps me become inspired to reach my goals.¨

Since both swimmers have such a high standard, one would think that it would be easy for them to get caught up in the typical sisterly comparison and bitter competition. On the contrary, that drive actually works in their favor as they push each other to strive to be their competitive best. Even when they’re focused on their own event, the Lugbills are constantly cheering for one another, though that doesn’t mean they ever ease up.

¨I am definitely cheering for her on the side and I am so excited for her as well every single meet,¨ Ashley said. ¨But I mean, who doesn’t want to get their hand on the wall first before [their] own sister?¨

As they prepare to leave MHS, the twins will no doubt be leaving their mark on the swim program, working to uphold their titles as the top two swimmers in the one hundred yard breaststroke category last year with a mere two second difference between each other. Head Coach Mark Sullivan said their rivalry, while being glued at the hip, is something special.

“I haven’t seen anything like these two in all my years,” Sullivan said. “They have real quiet ways of motivating each other in the pool that us coaches rarely hear. When one falters on a set the other pushes and picks them up, and vice versa.”

As they begin to think on their next steps, the sisters are also reflecting on the characteristics of their other half that they’ll be taking with them this time next year. Ashley believes one of the most influential aspects of Reese’s personality is her ability to find the silver lining in all that they do.

“Reese always looks at the glass half full instead of empty and I think that’s something I’ve caught onto,” Ashley said. “Sometimes the negative thoughts get to me and I’d want to give up, but then I see my sister right beside me putting 100% into it, making me feel motivated again.”

The Lugbill twins have also had an impact on the team’s bond in addition to their success as state champions. Reece said that his intentions for the team are to support, rely, and care for one another, just as her and Ashley have been doing for each other for years.

“All of our days are numbered and realizing that together makes the team stronger,” Reese said. “It’s not just about how fast you go, but the foundation you’ve built as a secure team that just brings you closer to success each meet.”

The Lugbills said that they have had a good run the past three years as Mason swimmers and would like to reach their ultimate goals as seniors together before they have to say their farewells. Ashley said that she has her sights set on swimming at the highest level possible at their swim meets with her sister by her side as the end of her high school journey continues to creep up.

“My sister and I normally do the hundred breaststroke which is the only event that overlaps for us, but all I can do is go as fast as possible,” Ashley said. “Reese and I hope to be reigning state champions with our team to end our high school experience on the best note possible.”

Photo by Rilee Malloy