The 6-foot-7 Recht sisters are turning heads at American
Posted: Monday May 14, 2007 12:51PM; Updated: Monday May 14, 2007 5:29PM
For most college girls, getting a date is all about finding someone that catches your eye. Claire and Ann Recht are more concerned with finding someone at eye level.
"They can't be below 6-foot-2 because that would be awkward on all levels," Ann says about any prospective dates. "Actually, 6-5 might be a good cutoff."
Ann and her identical twin sister Claire, sophomores at American University, have good reason for holding such rigid height requirements: at 6-7, the Rechts are the world's tallest living female twins, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
After starting at AU in the fall of 2006, Ann and Claire, 19, quickly found a comfort zone on the volleyball court. Both serve as middle blockers for American's nationally-competitive volleyball team, where they helped the university win its sixth straight Patriot League title this past fall. And while blocking serves and spiking balls may be easy for the pair, ducking into class unnoticed, meeting boys and blending in on campus can be a little trickier.
"It's weird when you're standing in the elevator, and someone will turn and ask, 'Are you one of those tall twins?" Claire says. "I can tell when there are new people on campus because they'll stare more [than most]."
Although local celebrities now, it was only a few years ago that no one outside of La Salle High School near their hometown of Canby, Ore., knew who the Rechts were. When a friend's freshman history project drew attention to world records, it was discovered that Ann and Claire were close in height to then-record holders Heather and Heidi Burge. The Rechts successfully took the record from the former WNBA players a year later, applying to the Guinness Book when they believed their growth had stopped.
"I was surprised about the record," Claire, who is 40 minutes older than Ann, remembers. "I knew we were tall, but I didn't think it was a 'tallest in the world' type thing."
Though both girls recall noticing the height differential with their peers in preschool, they claim to have never given much thought to their size due to growing up in a tall family. Parents Erich and Josephine are well over six feet, and older siblings Kyle (25), Warren (23) and Martha (21) are 6-9, 6-8 and 5-11, respectively.
The Rechts grew up putting their hereditary anomaly to good use, playing volleyball and basketball through high school. Though volleyball was always the dominant of the two sports for both, they were actively recruited by basketball powerhouses LSU and Tennessee, in addition to interest from Oregon State and Montana. The two ultimately turned down every school after a tournament in Reno, Nev., led to an offer to play volleyball at American.
"We didn't decide on volleyball until really late," Claire says. "I liked AU better [than the other colleges] -- the school, the city, everything was awesome."
Although they came to D.C. as a package deal, the girls knew that a little space would go a long way, opting not to room together while at school ("We'd kill each other," Ann jokes).
The girls both cite a natural sense of competition between them, and while their only physical distinctions are Claire's bangs and a birthmark on her left knee, their personalities are decidedly different.
"Claire is more serious than I am for sure," Ann says. "She's not as outgoing as I am."
"Ann's more on the goofy side," Claire adds. "She's more abrasive and when she's in a big group of people, she's the loud one."
While Claire admits that she and her sister are not very "twin-y" in terms of their styles and personalities, both acknowledge that their main physical similarity, while unusual, has given them a shared sense of confidence.
"Because Claire and I are both tall, there's never really been an insecurity issue," Ann says. "We've both just grown up that way."
And as for those potential suitors, they'd better have a similar sense of self-assurance if they hope to measure up.
"If boys aren't comfortable with it, whatever," Claire says of the height issue. "That's their problem, not mine."