The Bowdoin co-ed water polo team wrapped up its fall season by hosting the Collegiate Water Polo Association Colonial/North Atlantic “A” Championship at Greason Pool this past weekend.
While the University of Vermont (UVM) took home first place, Bowdoin finished with a 1–2 record and placed fourth overall in the tournament, capping off a historic season for the Polar Bears.
The tournament set Bowdoin against UVM and UMass Amherst. Saturday’s game was the team’s first meeting against UMass Amherst this season, but Bowdoin was able to pull off an upset and move on to play the University of Connecticut (UConn) on Sunday.
While the team lost to UConn 13–14, Erin Lamping ’26 saw the tournament as a success.
“The season was really good, and we were all really happy about it. It’s just a really good team environment,” Lamping said.
Hole set Micah Sher ’27 agreed.
“I was told it was the best season Bowdoin’s ever had,” Sher said. “I think we had a lot of strong first year players and a lot of people who wanted to try it, so we had a big team.”
A sport that relies on seven players treading water for seven-minute quarters, water polo favors teams with bigger rosters who can substitute players more frequently and therefore have a significant edge.
For years, Bowdoin struggled to find the numbers to field a consistently competitive team. Ross Grundy ’24 attributes much of this challenge to the pandemic and credits team captains Nina Fearon ’26, John Schubert ’26 and Janet Briggs ’25 with turning it around.
“They have done a spectacular job this year guiding the team in the right direction,” Grundy said.
Given the program’s growth, Grundy is optimistic for its future.
“We haven’t really had a big group of people who have all come in and had a strong foundation for them to land and build a team culture around. But this year has provided us with an opportunity to hold on to the people that we’ve got and continue to build,” Grundy said.
Lamping emphasized the importance of building team culture.
“We all boost each other up, we all cheer for each other, we all help each other get better. Some of us have played water polo a little bit, some people have played water polo a lot, some people have never played before. It’s really fun to see how everyone grows, and I think we work together as a team really well,” Lamping said.
Grundy played water polo briefly in high school but was turned off by the aggressive nature of the game. For him, a supportive environment makes the sport more appealing.
“Water polo can get pretty chippy and violent … and I think we strive not to do that on our team,” Grundy said. “We try to make it so that anybody can join.”
The team culture developed on several road trips to tournaments at surrounding colleges. Bowdoin went 2–2 at tournaments hosted by Middlebury College and UVM this season.
Lamping highlighted the team’s improvement over the course of the season, specifically against UVM.
“You’re just hoping to do better…. As always, you come out of a game with a couple good things to look at,” Lamping said.
The team hopes to continue improving. Many of its members will compete in varsity swimming in the winter season, but Bowdoin will field a women’s water polo squad in the spring.
“I’m really excited for the next couple years,” Lamping said. “It’s been really fun. I think it’s a great thing to get involved in on campus.”
Nina Fearon ’26, John Schubert ’26 and Janet Briggs ’25 are all members of the Bowdoin Orient.