CHARLOTTE – Twin brothers Ethan and Luke Foster do everything together, so South Meck swimming coach Leslie Berens knew she’d have to convince them both that they could become great divers.
The brothers had a background that was the perfect recipe for success, but they initally proved to be a tough challenge for Berens.
Luke Foster said he and his brother had done some gymnastics in the third grade. They both liked the floor exercises that included flips and tumbling, but weren’t much into the bars, rings or any of the rest of it.
“In middle school, our math teacher worked at a pool and suggested we dive there on a summer league team,” he said. “The summers of sixth and seventh grade, we dove on the summer teams, but just got the very basic dives down. We both really loved it from the start.”
Berens knew of the twins as they came up the ranks. She was on them from the start to join the dive team before the 2016 season. She wanted them to dive year-round.
The Fosters did well their first season, with Ethan placing eighth and Logan finishing 11th. The 17 points scored contributed to South Meck’s overwhelming 136-point state championship win, but Berens wanted them to put more into it.
However, when the spring season came around, the Fosters didn’t follow her wishes. They decided to try track.
“The next year, they came to the realization how good they can be at diving and they started working at it,” she said.
Ethan was seventh and Luke was eighth in the state finals, scoring 23 points to again contribute to the Sabres’ state title run, this time winning by 71 points.
In last season’s state championship, Ethan was fourth and Logan finished eighth as they continued to improve and spend more time in the pool.
They went from two days a week as members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ program to five 3.5-hour practices a week in the elite program.
And the work is certainly paying off.
“It’s a complete night and day difference since we’ve started diving year round,” Ethan Foster said. “It may not look like it requires a lot of strength, but it is strength and so much precision, so it definitely helps to be training. We do a lot of strength work in addition to our time in the water.”
The twins are busy as members of the elite diving team and many on-campus clubs. In addition, the Odyssey of the Mind world champions are top 10 students in their class, have over-1,400 SAT scores and identical 4.62 grade-point averages.
And they do it all together.
“We definitely have a little competitiveness in school,” Ethan Foster said. “We try to take the same classes in school so that nobody really gets ahead, and we’ll push each other to do the most athletically.
“One summer, Luke went to Governor’s School for six weeks. That’s was the longest we’ve been apart. There was a break in the middle, though, so it was really only like three weeks.”
But, after this season, they’ll have to be apart with Luke going to Harvard and Ethan to Stanford.
“It’s going to be different and I think it’s going to be hard the first couple of months maybe,” Ethan Foster said. “But after we get adjusted, we’ll get used to it. It will definitely make seeing each other more enjoyable.”
Luke Foster said his favorite subject is physics because the way it uniquely uses math. He’s also enjoys chemistry and is interested in attending medical school one day.
“Five years ago, my older brother (Peter) was touring colleges and stopped by Harvard and the atmosphere drew me in,” he said. “It’s been my dream school ever since then, and I’m getting more and more excited as it draws closer.”
Ethan Foster is taking a computer science class that has attracted his interest, because of its use of math in a different and practical way. He also loves chemistry, but said he could see a future in some sort of computer science field.
Ethan Foster said he thought Princeton would be his top choice until a late visit to Stanford swayed his decision.
“Princeton was my dream school for a very long time, but the coach didn’t know if there would be enough spots to offer me,” he said. “I took a last-minute visit to Stanford … When I met the team, it clicked, and I knew that was the right fit.”
Before the twins go their separate ways, they’ve got one more goal – to place first and second in the state this season.
They think they can do it with the added practice. It doesn’t matter to them which one is first.
That would be the final cap to an outstanding high school diving career. But no matter how it ends, the Fosters are trying to leave their mark.
“We made them captains to help the young kids out, and they’ve done a great job with it,” Berens said. “They make the announcements at school and they keep their eyes and ears out for gymnasts. They’ve really stepped in that regard. In the pool, they really encourage their teammates and they’re definitely leaders for us.”
The Fosters say Berens has been instrumental in getting them to the heights they’ve achieved in the pool. In a way, they want to give back to her for always pushing them to be better.
“She was the one who recruited us and got us into diving year-round,” Luke Foster said. “Even when she saw our success, she still pushed us to go to optional Sunday practices and then eventually try year-round diving. Without her, I don’t think we would have been able to make the decision to keep after it and go as far as we have with it.”
What started as a part-time hobby has grown into a full-time passion. And the two twins who started so innocently have grown into two of the best divers in the state who are both going to their dream schools to continue diving.
“When we started diving, I didn’t think it was going to be a very big part of my life or anything,” Luke Foster said. “I was hesitant to join year-round diving because I was hesitant that it would take over. Now that it sort of has, I’m really looking forward to college diving. I guess I just didn’t know diving was going to be so impactful, but I’m really glad that it is.”