This season, Jordan-Matthews swimming remains a family affair for the Fadelys

BY CHAPEL FOWLER, News + Record Staff
Posted 12/9/20

SILER CITY — The Jordan-Matthews swimming and diving team has a brand new head coach this season. But don’t worry: she’s already plenty familiar with Jennah Fadely, the Jets’ top …

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This season, Jordan-Matthews swimming remains a family affair for the Fadelys

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SILER CITY — The Jordan-Matthews swimming and diving team has a brand new head coach this season. But don’t worry: she’s already plenty familiar with Jennah Fadely, the Jets’ top swimmer.

How familiar?

Well, they’ve binged dozens of movies together, including plenty from the expansive Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’ve played together on the same youth basketball team, bickered over whose turn it was to hold the family tabby cats, Pepper and Ginger, and carpooled together more times than they count.

And, in a very relatable sibling feud they can now laugh about years later, they often found themselves in arguments early on school days when Morgan Fadely started waking up Jennah, her younger sister by five years, at their Siler City home in what she described as “the most obnoxious way possible.”

“I’d come in playing really loud music,” Morgan said, laughing on a joint Zoom call with Jennah last week. “Or I’d try to sit on her and squish her. But now that’s not safe, because she’s stronger than I am.”

So that means the Fadely sisters shared a room, right?

“Nope,” Morgan said. “It was me going out of my way to bother her. Honestly, just me trying to get on her nerves is what caused most of our fights.” (Jennah smiled and nodded, clearly in agreement.)

In all seriousness, though, the Fadely sisters are excited to see what they can accomplish in this winter’s coronavirus-altered NCHSAA swimming and diving season, which officially began Monday.

Considering one of them is a returning senior and All-American who finished half a second short of a gold medal in the 100-yard breaststroke last February at the NCHSAA 1A/2A state championships, the Fadelys have a chance to make some noise. And Jennah, 17, thinks Morgan, 22, could be a big boost in her 2021 state title hopes.

“As my sister, she connects with me better, especially on a mental and emotional level,” Jennah said. “She’s watched me grow up. She knows how I function. She knows the ins and outs of my mind and what I think and how I operate. And I think that’s something really important for a coach.”

Morgan has plenty of tangible experience, too. She got hooked on competitive swimming when she was 11 or 12 years old — around the same a 7-year-old Jennah got her start. The impetus for both Fadelys was their father, Lewis, who’d started a local summer swim clinic. Soon enough, casual laps at Bray Park and the Siler City Country Club led to sanctioned club events.

“It just kind of took off: him coaching us and finding teams for us to compete with,” Morgan said.

“I think it made a really big impact on our lives,” Jennah added.

Then, in 2012, when Morgan started high school at Jordan-Matthews and joined the swimming and diving team, Lewis took over as the Jets’ head coach and the Fadelys were wholeheartedly entangled in Chatham County swim culture. Not that any of them minded.

“Before I left for college, we didn’t miss out on seeing each other compete,” Morgan said.

The Fadelys never crossed over on the J-M swim team, as Morgan graduated in the spring of 2016 and Jennah didn’t start high school until the following fall. But Lewis, who also serves on the Siler City Board of Commissioners, didn’t mind bridging the one-year gap. He coached the Jets seven years in total.

“No matter the generation, whether it’s me or Morgan or Jennah, swimming teaches the same core values: discipline, determination, work ethic,” he said in a phone interview. “And delayed gratification — you’ve got to do it for a long time to see results.”

As much as he enjoyed coaching, though, this summer felt like the right time for a change. Lewis had gotten increasingly involved in officiating meets, too, and it was a lot to balance. The idea of kicking back as a relatively stress-free parent and spectator for Jennah’s senior year wasn’t too bad either.

Plus, he had a natural successor: Morgan, who graduated from UNC-Greensboro in 2020 with a major in social studies education and just so happened to land a first-year teaching job at her alma mater.

“I love swimming,” Morgan said. “We’re a swimming family. And I knew (the job) was a lot on him. But I didn’t want any of the kids, especially Jennah, to miss out on a season.”

Jordan-Matthews has a smaller team than usual this season — just three total swimmers, Jennah included — but the Fadelys are still optimistic for individual growth. Morgan has focused heavily on weight training for the Jets, which she sees as crucial to improving strength and, as a result, times.

And Jennah, working with her second family member in charge in as many years, is ready to get to work.

Unlike those loud, early-morning wake-ups and cat-related scuffles of old, she knows any challenge Morgan throws at her now is in good sisterly faith.

Reporter Chapel Fowler can be reached at cfowler@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @chapelfowler.

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