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Side by side: Gerdes sisters look back on over a decade of swimming together ahead of last high school meet at state

Madi and Lexi Gerdes have been swimming together since second grade. Last Saturday, in their final meet in Detroit Lakes, the Gerdes sisters took first and second in the 100-yard butterfly as both qualified for state. They looked back on over 10 years of swimming together and what it's meant to compete in this sport together.

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Madi and Lexi Gerdes finished first and second in the 100-yard breaststroke at the Section 8A girl swimming and diving meet at the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center. Madi also took second in the 200-yard IM and was part of the 200-yard first-place medley relay team. Lexi was also on the medley relay team and took first in the 100-yard butterfly. Submitted by Christine Gerdes
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Madi and Lexi Gerdes have taken every step of their swimming careers together. The Detroit Lakes senior twin sisters qualified for the Class A state meet in three events, including a first and second-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke at the Section 8A championships.

The top two swimmers in each section final race qualify for state. Madi Gerdes clocked in at 1:08.43 while Lexi was right behind her at 1:10:35 in the breaststroke. Lexi was five seconds better than Park Rapids' Massie Lee, sending both of the Gerdes sisters to state in the same event.

"We were hoping it would happen," Madi said of both her and Lexi qualifying for state in the breaststroke. "We're sending the sister duo (to state). It's cool to think about."

Madi and Lexi's seeding times were separated by 1.07 seconds. They had the fastest seeding times heading into the prelims at the Detroit Lakes community and Cultural Center last Friday.

"It's really cool to finish in the top two with her," Lexi said on taking second behind Madi in the breaststroke. "It's so much fun competing with and against her because we have such similar times. It's really fun pushing each other."


Both Madi and Lexi weren't shy about hiding the friendly competitiveness between the two of them. Despite being twin sisters and teammates for over 10 years, both of them strive to beat the other each time they step in the pool.

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Lexi (left) and Madi Gerdes compete in their first swim meet in 2011. Submitted by Christine Gerdes

"Every time I see her next to me, there's this spark that goes off in my head, letting me know that I can't let her beat me," Madi said. "I can't let her beat me. I can't let that happen. She makes me want to go faster. It's a good thing.

"Usually going into the race, I know she has a better chance of winning because she's had that faster time," Lexi said. "It's always fun racing against her because she pushes me to do my best, and I push her to be faster than me."

Madi and Lexi are two of nine Detroit Lakes swimmers and divers competing at the University of Minnesota in the Class A state meet. One year removed from not getting the chance to swim at state, Madi is excited to share the experience one more time in her senior season with so many teammates.

"I love going there," Madi said about competing at the University of Minnesota. "It's always a good experience going to a bigger pool and swimming against some of the other top girls in these races. It's exciting knowing that we have a big group of girls going to state this year. Going into sections, we didn't know who was going to make it or how many events would make it. We came out with a lot, which is good."


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Madi Gerdes swims in the 200-yard IM at the Section 8A prelims on Nov. 12, 2021 at the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center. Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Madi took second in the 200-yard IM with a time of 2:22.12. She trailed Fergus Falls' Emilie Carlson by 1.12 seconds.

"It was exciting because I came into the meet fifth in the IM," Madi said. "I kind of thought, 'Oh, I might have a chance at going to state,' but you never know what's going to happen. When I saw that I qualified in more than one individual event I was so happy."

Madi also qualified in the 200-yard medley relay with Lexi, Maren Westrum and Cora Martin. They took first with a time of 1:58.91, which was 0.2 seconds faster than Fergus Falls. Perham-New York Mills took third place with a time less than a second slower than Detroit Lakes.

"I'm very excited," Lexi said of swimming at the University of Minnesota. "It's one of my favorite pools to swim at. It's really cool seeing my teammates and friends from other towns that make it to state too. It's really cool competing against the other girls in the state that have really good times."

Lexi took first in the 100-yard butterfly, which took her by surprise. She was 0.49 seconds better than Fergus Falls' Carlson with a time of 1:03.44.

"I swam the 100-fly my freshman and sophomore years, actually," Lexi said. "I think I took fourth at sections. I took a break from it my junior year and came back to it this year. I actually really surprised myself by winning. I had a feeling I might finish in the top two, but I definitely wasn't expecting to get first place."


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Lexi Gerdes competes in the 100-yard butterfly at the Section 8A prelims on Nov. 12, 2021 at the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center. Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"She's been the section champ in the fly the past few years," Lexi said of Carlson. "It felt really good to beat her. She's so good, and I was kind of surprised I beat her."

Madi and Lexi were named Section 8A swimmers of the year. High school won't be their last run together either. Both will be attending and swimming at the University of Minnesota-Morris next year.

"We've been doing this since we were little," Lexi said. "We used to finish neck-and-neck together when we were young. We've been doing it ever since. It's meant so much to me to have her with me in this. It's been so fun competing with her and finishing next to her. We are able to accomplish things together. Not everybody can say they've had what we had. I'm thankful for her."

"You challenge each other," Madi said on what it's like to go through 10 years of swimming with a twin sister. "You're constantly battling and pushing each other to be faster. We help each other with technique. It's been nice to have her by my side throughout this whole thing. We know that we're always there for each other. We've been to these big meets and have done this whole experience together. It's pretty special when you think about it."

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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