McMillens part of Mesa’s building block

Sister act from Montrose back in pool

JACKIE, left, AND JORDAN McMILLEN have been swimming since they turned 6. Now the Mesa State freshmen will continue their competition with the Mavs, starting Saturday.

Jackie and Jordan McMillen were once considering going to different schools to get their education, but that simply would’ve been a little weird.

When it came down to it, the Montrose sisters — identical twins — couldn’t imagine being apart or far away from their mother and grandmother.

“When I was first deciding about college, I didn’t want to go to Mesa,” Jordan said. “I’ve already attended the same schools as my mom. I told myself, ‘It’s Grand Junction, It’s so close.’ When we decided, it came down to swimming or not as the deciding factor.”

The girls could’ve tried out for a Division I program, but knowing Montrose High School graduate Andrea Weisner, who is swimming at the University of Wisconsin, the McMillens opted to look at Mesa State.

“I wanted to swim, but I didn’t want it to consume my life,” Jackie said. “We are too competitive to quit cold turkey.

“I applied at Mesa, but I was unsure if it was what I wanted. I had someone tell me it was as far away or as close as I want it to be.”

The McMillen sisters will compete for the Mavericks in their first home meet in two years at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday at the Orchard Mesa Community Pool. Mesa State hosts the Air Force Academy, Colorado College, the University of Colorado and University of Northern Colorado in the Bill & Peggy Foster Duals. The meet will be scored as duals.

“I want to tool them all,” Mesa State coach Brian Pearson said. “If we can come away with two Division I wins, and one in Division II and III that’s great. We want them to know we’re here to stay.”
Pearson is pretty sure he can tell the McMillen sisters apart.

“One has a mole on her ... lip?” Pearson said. “Their facial structure is a little different. Jackie’s is a little more angular.

“I can tell them apart by their personalities. Jackie is more reserved and Jordan is more bubbly.

Jackie is on a mission and Jordan is on a mission to have fun.”

Their teammates, though, can tell them apart.

“They look different after a while,” Katie Wedel said.

Jordan paints her fingernails and often wears earrings. Jackie, however, rarely wears earrings.

“One guy in class didn’t know I am a twin,” Jordan said. “He saw Jackie in the cafeteria and would talk to her and she told him, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ ”

Either way, Pearson said the two are the type of competitors he’s looking to build the 4-year-old program.

“They make a huge difference,” Pearson said. “I can always rely on them. They are the first ones here and are among the hardest workers in the weight room.

“They are the building point for us. They are definitely the rock on the team. Katie Wedel is in the
group and Amber Haberman. All those kids are from blue-collar towns. Karoline Fry is too. They’ve done with less and gone without. ”

The McMillen sisters grew up playing several sports, including T-ball. They started swimming when they were 6. By the time they were entering high school, they were growing tired of swimming.

“We were fighting constantly with Mom about going to swimming practice,” Jordan said. “We were not motivated.”

The girls eventually took a break from the sport and returned to it after a couple of months off.

“I don’t think we’d be swimming now if we didn’t (take a break),” Jackie said. “We were so tired of it.”

Since then, the McMillen sisters have committed to the sport, swimming nearly year-round by their junior year in high school. Montrose coach Silas Almgren has been there to help develop into collegiate swimmers.

“His personality is so different,” Jordan said. “You have to learn how to read him.”

“He gave us ideas and concepts,” Jackie said of Almgren. “You have to look up to him for it.”


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