The fabled twin telepathy — the idea that a set of twins just knows what’s going on with the other one — is a common perception about twins. Disney Channel even made twin telepathy the focal point of "The Suite Life Movie."
“I don’t think twin telepathy is real,” freshman gymnast Isabella Garrett said. Her twin sister Marigold agreed.
As did sophomores Sara and Ana Kenefick.
The Garretts and Keneficks would know all about twin telepathy and the assumptions that come with being a twin. After all, these two pairs of sisters are also two pairs of twins. There are not one, but two sets of twins on Penn gymnastics, and that’s not even counting the Marr sisters, who are just a year apart.
While each pair of sisters is vastly different from the other, there are some twin misconceptions that they would like to rebuke.
Twin Misconception #1: Twins are adamant about attending the same school as each other.
While both pairs of sisters ended up at Penn, neither the Keneficks nor Garretts had concrete plans to attend school together.
“We weren’t a set of twins that were like, ‘We have to go to the same school together,’” Isabella Garrett said. “No, it just kind of ended up happening.”
“It fell into place,” Marigold Garrett added.
All four gymnasts made the decision to commit to Penn based on what was best for them as individuals, in both gymnastics and academics. Their goals for college just happened to overlap, and the sisters each discovered their own path to Penn.
“We both just fell in love with Penn, the team, the coaches, the school, the academics,” Sara Kenefick shared. “It was a no-brainer.”
Twin Misconception #2: The two pairs of twins shared similar experiences in gymnastics before Penn.
The Keneficks started their gymnastics journeys where many great gymnastics careers begin: in Mommy and Me classes. From these introductory lessons, the Keneficks found interest in trying out other sports.
The sisters joined their neighborhood swim club when they were around six years old.
One day, while they were competing in a swim meet, their mom was approached by their swim coach’s wife, Suzie Sanocki.
“Excuse me ma’am, I’m not sure your daughters are gonna be great swimmers,” Sanocki said, according to Sara Kenefick's recollection. “But I think they could really excel in gymnastics.”
Sanocki went on to become the Keneficks' gymnastics coach for the rest of their pre-collegiate careers.
In contrast, the Garretts had a more natural exposure to gymnastics. Their mom and three aunts were all gymnasts during college. One of their aunts – Eileen Rocchio – had a historic collegiate career at Brown University, and was named Ivy League Player of the Year in 1990 after securing an Ivy League championship for the Brown Bears. In 2014, Rocchio was inducted into the Brown Athletic Hall of Fame; one of just four gymnasts to earn that honor.
But despite the illustrious gymnastics lineage, the Garretts didn’t face any pressure to follow in their family's footsteps.
“It’s kind of in our blood, but it wasn’t forced on us in any way,” Isabella Garrett said. “It was very much up to our own choice and we were told, ‘Whenever you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to.’ But we both just found a love for this sport.”
Twin Misconception #3: Competing in the same sport as your twin takes the fun out of it.
On the contrary, the Keneficks and the Garretts love competing alongside their own sisters.
Club gymnastics is more individually focused. But because scoring for collegiate gymnastics is dependent on a team’s collective performance, the sisters have the opportunity to compete as teammates, as opposed to against one another.
“In the gymnastics world, we always say that club gymnastics in high school is fun, but nothing compared to doing it in college,” Ana Kenefick said. “So being able to have this celebration of how far we’ve come in the sport and being able to do that together is really special.”
Playing the same sport as her sister has had its uniquely exciting aspects, Ana said. Similarly, Isabella Garrett recalled how in their senior season of high school, she and Marigold shared a very impactful gymnastics milestone with one another when they tied for gold on vault at their regional competition.
“Just getting to stand on that podium together … to hold hands and salute was an amazing feeling. And we did it together,” she said.
Twin Misconception #4: Twins are the same as each other in every way.
Although they share a birthday, twins are each immensely individual.
Even on the mat, the twins have admitted to being stylistically different from one another.
“Marigold could do something on the first try … whereas I had to take a little bit longer, but it’d be just as good in my own way,” Isabella Garrett said while reflecting on their different skill sets. “We have different specialties and skills that we excel at and work for us. And mentality too — there’s gutsy gymnasts and gymnasts who are a bit more tentative — so we’re distinct in that aspect.”
Ana Kenefick expressed similar sentiments.
“I think every gymnast has their own style — it’s not just twins, it’s everybody. And I think that’s very important for people to realize that we are all different," Ana Kenefick said. "I don’t think it’s very important how we’re different, because we’re both good in our own ways.”
While each sister has her own distinguishable differences, there are still some people that still compare the twins to one another.
“[There’s] kind of a constant yardstick that everyone seems to use as a measurement for your success,” Sara Kenefick said, referring to the comparisons that come with being a twin. “[Ana and I] always tried to stray away from using each other as a measurement of our own success because, just like any two individuals, we don’t want to be compared.”
Similarly, Marigold Garrett said, “Everyone always thinks you’re out to get the other one. They always believe they’re your biggest competition. ‘Oh, it must be hard when they get something you don’t.’ It’s just like we’re different people — we’re gonna move at our own pace. But it’s not like I want you to fall for me to get up.”
Twin Truth #1: Twins are there for each other.
Everyone always says that twins are built-in best friends, and with the twins on gymnastics, this assertion seems to prove true.
“It’s nice to have someone you can count on to give you that support, and that’s undoubtedly how we get through the hard days, how we really enjoy the successes when they come,” Ana Kenefick said.
Her sister agreed: “[Being a twin] is honestly one of the most awesome things, because you always have a best friend. You always have someone that understands you.”
All four gymnasts agreed that coming to Penn with their lifelong best friend made the transition to college easier.
“Having someone here with you, that has been through everything with you,” Isabella Garrett said. “It’s just nice to have that built-in support group right there.”
Being a twin means getting to be your twin’s number one supporter, no matter the scenario. And if you’re Marigold Garrett, that can take shape in many ways: mimicking your sister’s handwriting because you like it so much, or supporting your sister through her first Level 10 national competition.
Marigold Garrett was sidelined in her first Level 10 national competition due to an injury. But she said that supporting Isabella through her national debut still made it a worthwhile experience.
“It felt like I had made it because she had made it,” Marigold Garrett said.
Sharing the collegiate gymnastics experience with a twin is a unique journey. Even if twin telepathy might be a hoax, the Garrett and Kenefick sisters have a head start on having good teamwork to compete for the goals of Penn gymnastics.