Jasper and Felix Van Cauwelaert want their names on the records board inside the natatorium at Highland Park High School. The problem might not be achieving the necessary times, but finding the letters to spell them out.
The siblings are competing together this season for the first time — with Jasper as a junior and Felix a freshman — and are leading a resurgence in boys swimming on the Blue Wave roster that saw HP win a regional team title last year and could result in several milestones being set in the next few seasons.
“The two of them are very determined swimmers and want to break those records so bad,” said HP assistant coach Hannah Ferrin. “They definitely push each other.”
Jasper already holds a school record in the backstroke and as part of the medley relay. He placed fifth in the 200-yard individual medley last year at the Class 4A state meet, where he also competed on two relays.
The brothers were born in the United States but also have citizenship in Belgium, where their father, Jeroen, was a soccer player and swimmer before moving to the U.S.
Jasper and Felix also tried both sports when they were young, but found themselves gravitating toward the pool in elementary school.
“We happened to be better at swimming, so we just stuck with it,” Jasper said.
The Van Cauwelaerts have been active in the prestigious Dallas Mustangs club program for several years, but rarely have swam together because of the two-year age gap. For both, their work ethic is a primary contributor to their success, with a typical weekday consisting of an hourlong practice at 7 a.m. at HPHS, and an after-school workout with the Mustangs that doesn’t bring them home until about 8 p.m.
This season, they’re both swimming on the Blue Wave’s powerful freestyle relay and medley relay quartets. Because of their different specialties, they don’t match up individually often, except in the middle-distance IM, and both look forward to such opportunities.
“It makes it more interesting because we always want to be each other,” Felix said. “Whoever wins gets bragging rights.”
While they achieve similar results, their styles are different. At 6-foot-3, Felix is more of a power swimmer, while the shorter Jasper relies on technique. That contrast proves valuable when they team up on relays for HP.
“I’m able to critique his stroke more because I’m more familiar with it than anybody else,” Jasper said. “I’m able to pick apart his stroke.”
Indeed, Ferrin said their relationship on the pool deck is more about constructive criticism than sibling rivalry.
“They’re competitive with each other, but not in a negative way,” Ferrin said. “They definitely complement each other.”