Mike Westdorp and Luis Antonio Crispin Guevara: Calling the 2019 Pan American Water Polo Tournament

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Mike Westdorp and Luis Antonio Crispin-Guevara, broadcasters for 2019 Pan American Games men's and women's water polo.

LIMA, PERU. With the 2019 Pan American Games involving so many nations from all over North and South America, unexpected pairings have resulted—some out of convenience, others out of necessity. This includes bilingual announcing in all arenas for the Pan Ams. English is not a language readily spoken in this vast metropolis of 10 million people. Spanish play-by-play is a must—but results for foreigner visitors is also necessary.

pan_american_logo.svgOne happy pairing at the men’s and women’s water polo competition in the Villa Maria del Triunfo Aquatics Complex was the almost seamless rapport between veteran water polo announcer Mike Westdorp and Luis Antonio Crispin-Guevara, a Peruvian with a background in football broadcasts. Westdorp, an Australian who has traveled all over the world calling polo at three Olympics and three FINA World Championships, coached his new colleague about the ins and outs of a sport that even some longtime observers don’t always understand.

In between matches last week at the Triunfo Aquatics Complex, Swimming World spoke to both about the Pan American Games, water polo in Peru and the impact of this tournament on the sport.

– This is your first time calling water polo matches, but I can tell you obviously know your way around any sporting event.

Luis Antonio Crispin-Guevara: The most famous sporting events in my country are volleyball and football—or soccer—which I call.

– Some call water polo “soccer in the water.” Do you see the similarities between what’s going on in the pool and what’s going on the soccer pitch?

It’s similar, the emotion in there like, announcing [soccer] is very similar, but I’m, the most emotional thing is that my country is home for these Pan American Games. [That’s] the best emotion that I feel.

Lima, Sunday August 04, 2019 - Peru ’s Alyssa Barnuevo during a Women’s Water Polo Group B match at Villa Maria del Triunfo at the Pan American Games Lima 2019. Copyright Cristiane Mattos / Lima 2019 Mandatory credits: Lima 2019 ** NO SALES ** NO ARCHIVES **

Peru ’s Alyssa Barnuevo. Photo Courtesy: Cristiane Mattos / Lima 2019

– What’s noteworthy is Peruvians have never experienced water polo at this level before.

Mike Westdorp: I think it’s a fantastic thing for Peru that they have an event of this magnitude. And for a sport like water polo—a minor sport here—to get a showcase and for Peruvians to come and see the athletes.

I find that Peruvians are extremely patriotic and they love their country—and they love to cheer. It’s great for their athletes to be brought up from their countrymen.

– Before this you were in Gwuangju for the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships. The South Koreans fielded teams for the same time but they don’t seem as prepared to embrace the game.

Westdorp: The Peruvian men and women are quite advanced for a nation that probably doesn’t get much international water polo. They’re competitions are reasonably good [and] the quality of players is quite good—not as good as the top teams, but they’re competing and, and that’s a good thing.

[On 1st Day of FINA World Water Polo Championships Two Numbers Stand Out: 64 and 33]

– And the players are young. Augusto Otero, the men’s captain, is 22, and the average age of the women is not quite eighteen. The future for Peruvian polo could be very bright.

Crispin-Guevara: It’s the first time for Peru in a competition like Pan American games, where polo is not a very popular here in, in, in my country. But the team we have is great. This I think is the first time [for Peruvian polo] but no, the last one.

[On The Record with Augusto Otero, Captain, Peruvian Men’s Water Polo Team]

– What’s noteworthy is that you two are working together in different languages—Mike in English and Luis in Spanish—and you’re very much in sync.

Crispin-Guevara: Yeah. Work, working near to Mike is a pleasure for me. He is a professional in this business is great. The feeling is very well to me.

Westdorp: I found that Luis picked up the game very quickly. The first game he was trying to work it out. But then he’s picked it up. The idea for me is to try and help him understand the game. And then to give him the time to shine, especially when Peru was playing.

I tried to let him have his moment because it’s his country and his team. So, I gave him as much of the game as possible and come in and fill some.

We just bounce back off each other and it is very comfortable. It doesn’t always work like that, but I’ve found was Luis it’s been very comfortable from the beginning. We seem to just be able to, to know and very little we [speak] over each other occasionally, but it’s good.

Let’s get physical! Peru and Brazil’s men’s water polo play. Photo Courtesy: Cristiane Mattos / Lima 2019

– How does this tournament compare to other tournaments you’ve called?

Westdorp: This is a very big tournament for the Americas, the Pan American Games, because this is Tokyo qualification for men and women. It’s very important that big teams like the USA and Canada come to these tournaments and help the nations that are building to get the love of the game and to bring them up.

[Tokyo Bound! Decisive Win Over Canada in Pan Am Water Polo Final Gives USA Men Gold, 2020 Olympics Berth]

And every tournament is different. You get some games that are blowouts and some games that are close. But it’s about trying to spread the love of the game and trying to help the crowd understand and bring the crowd into athlete and let the athlete feel the love of the crowd. That’s kind of our job is to, is to connect the crowd with the athletes and help them to all rise up. As a crowd gets bigger, the player gets bigger than the crowd gets bigger again and they feed off each other.

We’re the link in-between.

– Today is significant because the Peruvian men and women are playing arguably the two best teams in the region and the best team in the world by any measure on the women’s side, the American women.

Crispin-Guevara: The opportunity to Peru is great; it’s a big opportunity to show the world who we are.

Westdorp: The Peruvian players will take a lot away from playing the two-time Olympic champions and three-time world champion USA women. When you play a game, you want to challenge yourself against the best. They get in, they play the U.S., and they know they’re a better team, but you challenge yourself and you go: They are there, I’m here. What do I need to do to get to that level?

And that inspires them to get better.

[USA Women Open with Decisive Water Polo Win But Peru’s Gauthier-Asmat Is Story of Pan American Games 1st Day]

– In terms of regional rivals that are here, there’s, there’s Mexico, there’s Venezuela, there’s Brazil and Argentina. Who is Peru’s biggest rival in South America?

Westdorp: The big rivalry is Peru and Chile on the sporting field. When you’ve got Argentina and Brazil. They’re the big sporting rivals. Unfortunately, Chile is not here playing in the water polo competition but, but that is on general sports, Peru and Chile. Very big competition.

– You called last night’s game the Argentina vs. Brazil game. And I could see there was a lot of passion in the water.

Westdorp: Well there is some feeling between the athletes and they were worn by the referees before the game that they will not take any funny business. In the first quarter, there was a red card and a player excluded for the game. Just the referee stamping his authority on the players and saying: Play water polo. I know this is rivalry and is important for both of you, but the game is more important.

Lima, Saturday August 10, 2019 - The USA team celebrates the gold medal during the Men´s Water Polo Awards Ceremony at the Complejo Deportivo Villa Maria del Triunfo at the Pan American Games Lima 2019. Copyright Enrique Cuneo / Lima 2019 Mandatory credits: Lima 2019 ** NO SALES ** NO ARCHIVES **

Golden moment! USA men win their seventh-straight Pan Am title. Photo Courtesy: Enrique Cuneo / Lima 2019

You ride with that emotion. You see the players have that emotion—so you ride with that emotion. When they score a goal, you build that up and you build that. You say to the crowd: Have a look at this! The players are loving it!

– What are the things you both will take away from water polo here at the Pan American Games?

Crispin-Guevara: It’s a good opportunity to for Peru to share its sports culture, and wonderful cuisine to other countries. In Peru, you can travel it, eat, dance wherever you want and all those things are excellent [here].

Westdorp: This is a sporting complex housing, many different sports and it’s a world class facility and [Peru] and they will benefit from this. The area around here, it’s a poor area, but they’re going to grow and, and build up and they’re going to have use of facilities.

Sports are a great way to bring people together. And as I said, the Peruvians, a very proud nation. It’s quite nice being here around them and listening to them and they’re so excited about their teams playing and [Luis] is so passionate about his country playing. It comes out when he’s announcing it’s fun to be here.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Louise

    I loved reading all about the Waterpolo in the Pan Am Games. So great for Peru as a nation to have the exposure

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