Sims Twins From Downers Grove, Illinois Both Verbally Commit to Academic Powerhouses

It would seem that academic performance in the Simms’ household is valued just as much as athletic performance. Gabby Sims and Maddy Sims have both made their college decisions: Gabby is headed to Harvard, and Maddie is headed to Northwestern, two of the country’s top academic institutions.

They swim for Downers North High School and the Express Swim Team, and are coached at both by Judy Busse.

Gabby is a phenomenal sprint pickup. She has yards bests of 23.01 and 49.57 in the 50 and 100 yard freestyles, plus adds a 54.02 in the 100 yard back and a 54.26 in the 100 yard fly. She will have a huge replacement value for Harvard, who graduates their  sub-50 second sprinter Sara Li after this season (though they’re very high on Canadian freshman Victoria Chan as well).

Gabby is the defending Illinois High School State Champion in the 100 free, and was runner-up to only Olivia Smoliga in the 100 back.

Maddy Sims doesn’t have quite the pure-speed that her sister does, but is a better middle-distance swimmer. Her bests, in yards, are 52.6/1:51.7/5:03.8 in the 100/200/500 yard freestyles; plus 56.4/2:04.0 in the 100 and 200 yard butterflies.

The two are twins, but of the fraternal variety: Gabby is several inches taller than her sister. They are gunning for a state title this year as the last of a long and impressive line of Sims swimmers to roll through Downers North. Their older brother Burke Sims was a 2009 state champion and Haley Sims who was a two-time state champion. When the twins were freshman, they combined with Haley on a 200 medley relay to break the Illinois State Record. Their father David Sims was a member of the U.S. National Team that was left home with the 1980 Olympic boycott and himself was a former Pac-10 Champion and school-record holder in the 1650 freestyle (he was in Skip Kenney’s first recruiting class on the Farm).

Oh, and where did Burke and Haley end up going to school? Stanford, completing an impressive regional trifecta of academia.

Time to bring on the next generation.

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Great family! Happy for Gabby and Maddy.

Northern Fan

We are proud of the Sims’s Canadian connection. Their mom, Janice is Canadian! Congratulations to Gabby and Maddy.


Great pick-upa for The B1G and Ivy league. Too bad for their father to be caught up in the boycott by the idiot peanut Carter.


Congratulations to Gabby and Maddie. Great swimming family and great additions to Harvard and Northwestern.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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