The sports world is filled with siblings: Peyton and Eli Manning, Venus and Serena Williams, Jose and Yadier Molina. Wisconsin’s addition to this list? Ivy and Ruby Martin.
Ruby, a senior, and Ivy, a sophomore, have both had phenomenal success swimming here at Wisconsin.
Despite growing up in Madison and attending East High School, neither thought of Wisconsin as an option until actually visiting the campus and facilities.
Ruby came first, making an impact her freshman year by helping propel the 200 free relay team to nationals. After another astounding season her sophomore year, her sister, Ivy, came onto the scene.
“At first it was really hard to transition, always competing with each other,” Ruby admits.
“I think we are to a point right now where we are just happy for each other when we do well … for the most part,” Ivy added with a slight laugh.
Last season both girls advanced to nationals and continued to improve their skills. Though the tensions between the two have diminished, they are still pushed to try their hardest and compete in practice with one another. Competitions, both admit, help improve their form and times.
Both girls have begun to not only look at each other as sisters and teammates, but as teachers. A sign hangs above a door in the swimming facility that says, “Choose your Attitude.” The girls have clearly taken notice and both admit to learning vital lessons from one another in their attitude toward swimming and competition.
“[Ivy] reminds me to be confident and not worry about things,” Ruby said. “I know she is so good because she always knows she is going to do well and I think that that’s something to take with me.”
Ruby has taken that attitude of confidence and installed it in her own game. According to Ruby’s head coach, Whitney Hite, she has become increasingly confident since her sister joined the team.
“When she leaves this program she is going to be a strong and confident young woman,” Hite said.
Ivy has also learned from her older sister. Ruby uses her experience in the pool to show Ivy the ropes. Though Ruby doesn’t directly give advice, Ivy said her sister often leads by example and Ivy hopes to do the same when she is an upper classman.
With the individual talents and concepts they have learned from one another, the Martin sisters have become a crucial part of the Wisconsin Badgers swim team. Their individual and team performances throughout the past few years have helped make the Wisconsin swim team a formidable opponent in the Big Ten.
These two talented women have led to some incredible stories so far this year. On Jan. 26, Ivy set a pool record in the 50 free in Charlottesville, Va. Ivy, with a time of 22:36, broke the record previously held by Lauren Perdue of Virginia, who was an Olympian in 2012.
“We weren’t necessarily expecting it,” Hite said of the record-breaking swim. “But Ivy is one of those athletes that is very focused, she knew what the record was and, whether she will admit it or not, I think that was a goal for her.”
Ruby’s recent achievements are quite comparable.
With her sister’s growing success, Ruby had to reinvent herself as a swimmer. The summer before her junior year she had the best 200 freestyle time on the team. However, as her sister continued to improve her times, Ruby has had to readjust and change her own style. Most noticeable are her improved 50 and 100 backstroke times, which are now highest on the team.
“It has allowed her to have a lot of personal growth, which is a win in our book,” Hite said.
The Martin sisters have both qualified for nationals already this year, but continue to strive for new goals. Both are looking to improve their personal best times and do well at the Big Ten Championship individually and especially in the 200 free relay, which has become the backbone of the Wisconsin women’s swim team.
“I’d like to see Ivy break Becky Thompson’s Big Ten record in the 50,” Hite said. “And I can see her go top eight at nationals to be an All-American.”
Hite summed up the sisters best when saying, “What they have, it’s not really measureable.” Though each one of their times is measured to one-one-hundredth of a second, measuring their attitude, hard work and determination has proven to be an impossible task for those around them.