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Holman twins medal in Kazan

First Lt. Sara Holman (left), 50th Operations Support Squadron payload systems operator instructor, Jenny Wachsmuth, German gold medal finisher, and 1st Lt. Mary Holman, 50th Operations Group evaluator, stand at the medal podium following the 3,000-meter open water swim Aug. 7, 2015, in Kazan, Russia. The Holman twins competed in the 2015 International Swimming Federation swim championship, earning a combined 12 top-10 finishes in seven events. (Courtesy Photo)

First Lt. Sara Holman (left), 50th Operations Support Squadron payload systems operator instructor, Jenny Wachsmuth, German gold medal finisher, and 1st Lt. Mary Holman, 50th Operations Group evaluator, stand at the medal podium following the 3,000-meter open water swim Aug. 7, 2015, in Kazan, Russia. The Holman twins competed in the 2015 International Swimming Federation swim championship, earning a combined 12 top-10 finishes in seven events. (Courtesy Photo)

First Lt. Mary Holman, 50th Operations Group evaluator, receives the bronze medal for the 3,000-meter open water swim Aug. 7, 2015, in Kazan, Russia. Both Mary and Sara competed in the 2015 International Swimming Federation swim championship, earning a combined 12 top-10 finishes in seven events. (Courtesy Photo)

First Lt. Mary Holman, 50th Operations Group evaluator, receives the bronze medal for the 3,000-meter open water swim Aug. 7, 2015, in Kazan, Russia. Both Mary and Sara competed in the 2015 International Swimming Federation swim championship, earning a combined 12 top-10 finishes in seven events. (Courtesy Photo)

First Lt. Sara Holman, 50th Operations Support Squadron payload systems operator instructor, swims in the 200-meter backstroke at the 2015 International Swimming Federation swim championship Aug. 11, 2015, in Kazan, Russia. This year’s FINA masters world championship competition was held in Kazan, commonly referred to as the sports capital of Russia. (Courtesy Photo)

First Lt. Sara Holman, 50th Operations Support Squadron payload systems operator instructor, swims in the 200-meter backstroke at the 2015 International Swimming Federation swim championship Aug. 11, 2015, in Kazan, Russia. This year’s FINA masters world championship competition was held in Kazan, commonly referred to as the sports capital of Russia. (Courtesy Photo)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- "Don't talk to me unless I've had my swim today!"

This is something you might hear from one of the Holman twins on any given morning before their rigorous swim workout. It's a bigger deal than one might think.

First Lt. Sara Holman, 50th Operations Support Squadron payload systems operator instructor, and 1st Lt. Mary Holman, 50th Operations Group evaluator, competed in the 2015 Fédération Internationale de Natation or International Swimming Federation.

The two 50 OG officers went to Kazan, Russia, from Aug. 7-16, and returned with medals, five of them to be exact. This year's FINA masters world championship competition was held in Kazan, commonly referred to as the sports capital of Russia.

To put it in perspective, FINA is the internationally recognized governing body for all aquatic sports. For this masters competition, there were approximately 3,000 competitors. The Holmans earned a combined 12 top-10 finishes in seven events.

"My sister and I were just really proud to get medals, especially for the open water," said Mary. "We didn't really expect to medal actually. We were really excited!"

The Holman sisters have been swimming competitively since they were 13 years old. Before that, they swam leisurely, starting on the high school team in the seventh grade.

"We're competitive," said Sara. "But at the end of the day, I'm happy when she does well and she's happy if I do well and hopefully we both do well!"

Although being an officer in the U.S. Air Force and a globally recognized competitive swimmer can be a stressful feat, Mary explained it's an important balance that enables her to thrive.

"I think it's important to have something other than just your job that you're working toward because it gives a good balance," said Mary. "I want to [swim] for the rest of my life because it makes me happy and it keeps me fit. It's something other than work that I get to think about and that secondary thing in my life that I have a goal towards."

Mary and Sara have supporters from the aqua blue side as well as the Air Force blue side.

"Lieutenants Mary and Sara Holman's success comes from hours of practice coupled with a drive to constantly improve," said Col. Dennis Bythewood, 50 OG commander. "These traits are critical to their success as athletes and as airmen in the 50 OG. I'm proud of their achievements and how they represent the U.S. Air Force world-wide."

During their 16-day stay, the Holmans lived with fellow competitors in the Athlete's Village - a residential area constructed for sports competition participants in Kazan.

"We had two days when we got there to get acclimated [before] we had an open water swim and then another two days before the competition in the pool, so we had time to go around the city," said Sara. "Mary and I both tried to learn a little Russian so we tried to use that, but I wish I would have known more!"

They also took advantage of tourist opportunities when not in the water.

The cab fare from the Athlete's Village was very affordable and brought them right into the city. The main tourist attractions were nearer to Kazan's historic Kremlin.

"There were a lot of mosques, cathedrals, museums and eateries there," said Mary. "One of the main tourist strips is Bauman Street, right by the Kremlin, so that's where the tourists go to eat and buy souvenirs."

The duo tasted some famous Russian fare during their visit including borscht, a beet soup served cold, as well as kefir, a fermented milk drink.

"I guess we just wanted to say we tried it," Mary laughed.

Overall, Mary and Sara said they enjoyed their experience in Kazan. If they could travel to Russia again, they would make more of an effort to visit Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

The Holman sisters have their sights set on the next FINA championship in Budapest, Hungary, 2017.

Their detailed results are as follows:

800-meter freestyle: 2nd Place (Sara); 3rd Place (Mary)
200-meter backstroke: 4th Place (Sara); 9th Place (Mary)
100-meter freestyle: 12th Place (Mary)
200-meter freestyle: 6th Place (Sara), 8th Place (Mary)
3,000-meter open water swim: 2nd Place (Sara); 3rd Place (Mary)
100-meter backstroke: 8th Place (Sara)
400-meter freestyle: 3rd Place (Sara); 4th Place (Mary)
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