For Cassey and Keelan Mooney, attending the same university was a no-brainer. Having grown up first in South Africa before moving to the remote Canadian city of Yellowknife, the siblings were inseparable during their younger years.
“When it came time for me to choose a university, we sat down together and looked at where we could both study what we wanted at the same place,” said Cassey. “I reached out to the swim coach at the time, and she was very accommodating despite the distance and even sent recruitment videos. Since UNB was offering the opportunity to study kinesiology and also swim competitively, I thought it was worth making the move to the East Coast.”
“I was looking into engineering schools for the following year and knew that UNB was recognized for the strength of its program,” explained Keelan. “We both liked small towns, so Fredericton was a good size and also had a swim team that was competitive.”
Keelan admitted though that Cassey being at UNB was the biggest influence on him coming to New Brunswick as well.
“We’ve always been very close, so it was helpful to have her here during my transition to university.”
“Because we’re so close in age, we’ve always been best friends and done everything together, so it was an easy choice to stick together,” added Cassey.
The Mooney siblings also draw inspiration from each other when it comes time to hit the pool.
“I like to think it’s good for both of us,” said Keelan. “When I swim with Cassey, I feel like deep down she wants to catch me, and it makes us both work even harder.”
“We have that inner competitiveness with each other, even though we’ll never actually formally compete against each other,” said Cassey. “Because we know each other so well and have swam together for so long, it’s nice to watch each other and give input. Keelan knows when something is off with my swimming, and can give me the guidance I need to improve.”
Currently in her fourth and final season with the V-Reds swim team, Cassey recently qualified for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship in the 200-metre breaststroke.
“This season has been my best yet, but I’ve been able to improve every season with the V-Reds so far,” she said. “Coming from such a remote location like Yellowknife, it was nice to be able to go somewhere that I could improve rather than hitting a plateau.”
“I absolutely love the team here, and our head coach, Robin Ferdinand, is amazing. She’s really good at what she does and I trust her completely, which is really important for me to succeed.”
Keelan also praised Ferdinand, noting that it was beneficial to have the different perspective that only a new coach can bring. After all, the Mooney siblings had been coached by their mother for most of their athletic careers.
Heading into the final months of her senior year, Cassey aspires to “go out with a bang and leave my mark in the pool before I’m done.”
Despite suffering a back injury earlier this season, Keelan hopes to rebound in time for the AUS championships.
“The ultimate goal is to get to the CIS championships, and I have two years left to get there.”
As Cassey prepares to graduate from UNB, the 2015-16 season will mark the siblings’ first year apart since coming to university.
“It will be very, very different swimming without Cassey,” mused Keelan. “It’s probably our first real separation in sport, so it’s going to be interesting. There won’t be anyone to complain to or to ask for help.”
“No more alarm clock, either,” joked Cassey.