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Family Matters Come First for El Dorado Sisters : Swimming: Standouts Grace and Nancy Jo support each other, in addition to doing the same for their brother, John.

March 20, 1995|ERIK HAMILTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PLACENTIA — Talking to sisters Grace and Nancy Jo, one would think the Jos have more in common with the Waltons than a swimming pool.

But while they may mirror the fierce family loyalty the television family had, the sisters also are loyal to the sport of swimming, which is why El Dorado will be a team to reckon with in Division I.

"They (Grace and Nancy) are very close and are very supportive of each other," El Dorado Coach Michael Ashe said. "On the deck or at meets, they keep an eye on each other and their brother, John."

Grace, 17, who is the older sister, doesn't see her family bond as anything special. "We hang out together and we are always sticking up for each other," said Grace, who specializes in the butterfly and the 100-yard freestyle. "Our family is very close, and we've always watched out for each other since we were small."

Nancy, 16, a junior, is one of the county's top freestyle sprinters. And like her sister, she makes no bones about her devotion to Grace and John, who is a sophomore at El Dorado, where he swims and plays water polo.

"Yeah, Grace and I are close, but we also keep an eye on our brother," Nancy said. "We are always cheering each other on and if he gets in trouble, we talk to the coach to find out what we can do to make it better."

The sisters started with Swim Team of Placentia about five years ago--a late start in the world of competitive swimming. And it wasn't too long after joining the club where they found out that both had a love for the water and wanted to continue.

From there, they joined the Fullerton Aquatic swim team and eventually moved to Industry Hills swim club, where they remain today.

Grace's best time in the 100-yard butterfly is 1 minute 15 seconds, and 54.75. in the 100-yard freestyle. Nancy's top time for the 100 free is 51.57 and 1:49.9 in the 200 free, where she holds Junior National times in both events.

Nancy has decided to skip Junior Nationals next week because she felt her times were not what they should be. Instead she will focus on the high school season, in particular, the Southern Section Girls' Swim Relays, April 1 at Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach, where both sisters said El Dorado should do well.

While the Jos "keep an eye out for each other," Grace said she and Nancy never forget their obligation to teammates.

"Grace has become a real leader for us," Ashe said. "Since this is her senior year, she has stepped forward to take on this responsibility. And a lot of the younger kids look up to her."

As for Nancy, Ashe said she shows up for swimming and has a good time, and sort of stays in the background. But Ashley added that he expects Nancy to become a team leader when she becomes a senior.

Grace said she wants to finish her high school season on a high note and looks forward to her freshman year at Cornell, where she will major in biological science. Nancy also is looking forward to swimming against Katie Lowes of El Toro and Wendy O'Brien of Irvine in the Southern Section Division I championships in May.

And though Nancy admits her races with Lowes and O'Brien will be close, one thing is certain:

Grace will no doubt be cheering her on.

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