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Family of champions: Siblings from Norway excel at Tampa Prep


Published:   |   Updated: July 26, 2013 at 09:31 AM

TAMPA - Over the past few years, there has been one recurring name on the athletic pages of the annual Tampa Preparatory yearbook.

It's omnipresent, really.

Skjaerpe. And there's more than one.

Astrid, Oscar and Rasmus Skjaerpe - siblings from Norway - have been among the top athletes at Tampa Prep, and in the state for that matter, since they began participating in high school athletics.

Astrid, the oldest, is a national and state champion female rower. A 2013 graduate of Tampa Prep, Astrid will row in the fall for Marist College, whose Division I women's crew team won the 2013 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Rasmus, a senior who is older than maternal twin brother Oscar by two minutes, is the two-time Tampa Tribune Male Swimmer of the Year. One of the fastest juniors in the country last season, Rasmus won the Class 1A state title in the 200 freestyle in a time of 1 minute, 38.2 seconds and was second in the 100 butterfly in 49.08 seconds.

Rasmus recently returned from a 10-day stay in Arizona, where he trained with the Norwegian national senior swim team. If all goes well, he'll have a chance to compete for Norway in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

Oscar, a four-sport athlete, was a member of Tampa Prep's 2012 and 2013 state championship boys soccer team. He also competes in swimming, cross country and track and field, the latter being his "top" sport.

"I swam relay to help, but track is my sport," Oscar said. "I do cross country to stay in shape."

Simply by staying in shape, Oscar competed in the state cross country championships as a sophomore. As a freshman, he helped the 4x800-meter relay track team finish fourth at the 1A state championships.

"I brag about them all the time," Astrid said.

Sports for the Skjaerpe siblings began in elementary school in Norway, where the three played soccer. Rasmus branched into swimming years later, but his passion for the sport, as well as his siblings' involvement, escalated when their father, Arne, a former Brigadier General and Norwegian Senior National Representative, moved to Tampa to serve as chairman of the Country Coalition at MacDill Air Force Base.

"We spoke a little English," Rasmus recalled. "The extent was what we watched in English movies in Norway."

Sports, for all three, was a means to fit in.

But encouraged by Tampa Prep's mission to participate, the three siblings found their niche, though Astrid's took longer than the brothers.

"I was that sibling who never knew what I was good at," Astrid said.

Before getting into rowing, she was a member of the school's track, soccer, swimming, cross country and softball teams. But when a friend persuaded her to try rowing, she gave it a try.

"I was dared to do it," she said. "I was a big girl, so they needed muscle."

In her first year of rowing, she won a state title.

"I'm proud of them," Rasmus said of his siblings.

Rasmus, by consensus, is the humorous one. Oscar is the most studious, and Astrid, the boys say, is the most competitive.

"I have two brothers over 6 feet and 200 pounds," Astrid said. "I have to stand my ground."

Oscar was named Tampa Prep's Male Multi-Sport Athlete of the Year in 2012 and 2013, as well as Terrapin Scholar Athlete of 2013, while Rasmus was named Male Athlete of the Year in 2013. Astrid was a finalist for best performance in a single sport.

Tampa Prep's gym walls are decorated with championship banners. The Skjaerpes can graduate knowing their names will be etched in school history.

"The banners are cool," Oscar said. "I've read them a number of times. It's cool to know people will read our names."

nwilliams@tampatrib.com

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Twitter: @TBO_PrepSports

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