With six athletically active children, Dan and Martha Conners must coordinate carefully.
“It’s kind of divide-and-conquer on some nights,” Martha said.
Dan was the state champion in the 800-meter run for Hill-Murray, where he also played football. Martha attended Holy Angels, where she played flag football, ran cross-country and track and played basketball. Martha was the long-jump state champion her senior year.
Martha and Dan both attended the University of St. Thomas, where they met. Dan ran track and cross-country for the Tommies. Martha played basketball and ran track on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.
But their children? They became swimmers.
“It was kind of by happenstance,” Martha said. “We happened to buy a house that had a pool in it when the kids were little. We told them they have to be good swimmers, so we insisted they join the school swim team.”
The kids did just that at Nativity of our Lord grade school.
“And they all just took an affinity to it,” Martha said.
There was a lot of clock-watching and competition in that pool growing up. It appears to have paid off.
Emily and Catherine were a part of the Class 1A state champion Visitation squad this past fall. Emily, a sophomore, finished sixth in the 100-yard freestyle and served on the state championship-winning 400 freestyle relay.
Catherine Conners, a senior, finished sixth in the 500 freestyle. Both sisters were part of the second-place 200 freestyle relay.
Jeremy and Michael swam for St. Thomas Academy. They are triplet brothers of Catherine. St. Thomas Academy won the Class 1A state championship on March 1.
Michael was the anchor on the Cadets’ 200-yard medley relay squad, which edged out Fergus Falls by a good margin for the title. He also swam in the championship-winning 200-yard freestyle relay. Jeremy took sixth in the 200-yard freestyle and seventh in the 500-yard freestyle.
Maggie, a freshman, swam in grade school — and was quite good at it — but soccer and hockey won out for her. Soccer and swimming both take place in the fall. Maggie chose soccer. It wasn’t an easy decision, especially knowing she could swim with her sisters.
Maggie earned all-conference honors in soccer this fall. She also was part of St. Paul United’s first trip ever to the girls’ hockey state tournament in February. St. Paul United is a co-op between Visitation and St. Paul Academy.
There is an older brother, Nathan, now 26, who swam for St. Thomas Academy. He also played football and hockey and swam on a state championship relay team his senior season.
While there’s a lot of juggling, chaos and competition, the siblings all remain supportive of each other.
“They want each other to do well,” Martha said. “We’ve just been incredibly blessed that our kids do want each other to do well. They’ll come to the big meets when they can. They’ll be right there cheering for them and hollering for them.”