Catching up with Cal Poly SLO about Club Water Polo

Photo Courtesy: Cal Poly Women's Water Polo, @cpwomenswaterpolo

By Rachel Andersen, Swimming World College Intern.

Next weekend, the Avery Aquatic Center at Stanford University will play home to the whitewater sprints and screeching whistles of the National Collegiate Women’s Water Polo Championship as eight teams fight for first place. However, this past weekend, another championship was taking place that was equally important to its participants.

The Rolfs Aquatic Center at Notre Dame hosted the Collegiate Water Polo Association’s (CWPA) Women’s Club Water Polo National Championship, wrapping up this weekend with No. 6 University of Florida taking down No. 2 UC Davis with a 4-3 win. Third place was snatched by SDSU, with a 9-8 win over Cal Poly.

Competitions like these are not only fun, but also allow athletes to continue playing the sport they love at the university of their dreams. Without the organization of the CWPA, players like Maddie David from Cal Poly would be unable to compete.


Photo Courtesy:Cal Poly Women’s Water Polo, @cpwomenswaterpolo

While club polo may not be at the same competitive level as varsity teams, the play is still extremely competitive. Players who competed at the Junior Olympics and Olympic Development training centers often join club teams at their universities. In doing so, players can remain connected to their sport if their college doesn’t have a varsity team or if the time commitment is too strenuous.

Cal Poly SLO does not have a Division I NCAA team for water polo. This means that for advanced athletes like David, who was voted 2018 All Tournament team last year at nationals, there would be no way for her to play water polo while attending university. However, thanks to the CWPA, there is a nationwide circuit of teams ready to play high-level water polo.

The road to nationals for Cal Poly was filled with obstacles. To reach the championships, SLO took out undefeated No. 1 UCLA in their division’s regionals to win themselves a spot in the tournament. Next, the team would have to stay in shape while waiting for the tournament to arrive. In regards to preparing for the tournament, David said, “We made sure to keep conditioning to stay in shape. We also made sure to stay super positive and focus on our strengths so that we would be confident going into the tournament.”

Cal Poly SLO made a splash in the tournament by taking down University of Washington and Fresno State. With 10 goals under her belt, David helped to lead Cal Poly to the semi-finals of the tournament. Her strategy of beating goalies? Observation and variability.

“I guess I would say that, if possible, it would be good to watch the goalie before your game to know their style or their strengths and weaknesses. Another tip would be to switch up the type of shot that you take.”


Photo Courtesy:Photo Courtesy: Cal Poly Women’s Water Polo, @cpwomenswaterpolo

Despite their best efforts, Cal Poly took fourth in the tournament. However, David and the Cal Poly team aren’t fazed. The top few teams of the tournament were extremely close in skill level. Davis only barely edged out SDSU in golden goal overtime. Similarly, SDSU only beat Cal Poly by one goal. Next year, it’s anyone’s game, and all the teams that didn’t make nationals this year will be similarly hungry for a win. Cal Poly will be right there vying beside all the others, ready to compete for another chance at the title.

Stepping back to reflect on her experience as a collegiate club polo player, David concludes, “I feel very lucky and proud to get to play water polo at Cal Poly. Its an awesome opportunity to get to continue to play the sport I love while getting a great education. Every day, I get to look forward to practice and hanging out with my amazing teammates.”

-All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Christine Ehrhart
3 years ago

GREAT article! Can’t wait til next season!

3 years ago

Well written article…Rachel, as one who knows, captured the excitement and intense competition of club water polo tournament play!

Kathleen Carney
3 years ago

Well written, very enjoyable article.

Dave Ehrhart
3 years ago

Enjoyed reading this article – well written and I learned a lot about club water polo. Keep up the great writing!!