Even in rowing, in which New Zealand has such a distinguished history, Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell were special. The twin sisters won double sculls world titles in 2002, 2003 and 2005, and Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008. That's beside the small matter of three other world championship silver medals and a bronze. 

Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindells went three seasons without defeat and were so dominant that other rowers chose different events to steer clear of them at major championships. 

They were tagged the Ice Maidens by their overseas opponents, because they seemed impervious to pressure and gave nothing away. But they were quiet achievers, even if their years at the top have boosted their profile in New Zealand. 

They grew up on the family orchard outside Hastings. Attending Rudolf Steiner School, they were virtually inseparable, playing in the same netball, basketball, cricket, badminton and hockey teams. 

When she was 14 Caroline, the younger twin by four minutes, decided to try rowing. The agreement was that Georgina would not go near the sport until Caroline was a New Zealand representative, thereby ensuring that the girls carved separate niches. 

Caroline was in the New Zealand squad within two years and Georgina followed her into the sport. Georgina said her rapid elevation to the national squad was because the selectors thought one twin was pretty good, so the other one might be as well. 

On leaving school they moved to Christchurch, coming under the tutelage of former Olympic gold medallist Gary Robertson. During their two seasons in Christchurch they became good senior rowers, generally in fours and eights crews. Caroline made the New Zealand junior world championship team in 1995 and Georgina a year later. 

Then they shifted to Cambridge, studying at the University of Waikato. The reason for the move north, though, was to train at Lake Karapiro under the eye of expert coach Dick Tonks. 

The results soon came. In 2000 they narrowly missed selection for the Sydney Olympics. Caroline, a better single sculler - though Georgina has set the 2000m indoor rowing world record - pushed Sonia Waddell close for the single sculls berth. In the double sculls the twins scored an impressive World Cup victory at Vienna, but at the Olympic qualifying meet at Lucerne, finished third when a top two placing would have got them to Sydney. 

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Caroline's Games History