Decorated Duo Back to Lead Women's Water Polo
Bywater, Hallahan excited for fresh start going into senior season
Naturally, Jacqueline Bywater's first day on campus back in August included a stop by Charles E. Smith Center to meet her new coach.
The senior whose name is already all over the GW women's water polo record book left Barry King's office invigorated.
King made no promises that day. And Bywater couldn't have been happier about it.
"Everyone needs to prove something," said Bywater, who ranks No. 1 all-time among Colonials in steals, No. 2 in goals, No. 3 in points and No. 4 in assists. "It's more of a level playing field for everyone, and the people who deserve it are going to be the ones who play."
That feeling has carried through GW's fall workouts and into preparations for the squad's inaugural season under King.
The Colonials head into this fresh start, led by a pair of familiar faces in Bywater and Scarlett Hallahan. Both have already assured their place in program history, combining for 617 points via 402 goals and 215 assists over the past three seasons.
Bywater and Hallahan agree those statistics are secondary as they get ready to close out their time in Buff and Blue. They're most concerned with improving on last season's 13-19 finish to move up the Collegiate Water Polo Association standings.
"It makes me proud, and I'm happy that I've been able to contribute that and kind of leave that legacy at the school, but my No. 1 thing is wins," said Hallahan, whose 211 career goals are a program record. "That's what I'm looking for this year."
Bywater and Hallahan's relationship stretches back before they arrived in Foggy Bottom. Growing up in California, they regularly squared off on the club scene.
Bywater knew Hallahan was considering GW in 2013, so she sent her friend a text message when she decided to commit to the Colonials on her official visit.
About a week later, Hallahan made up her mind and did the same: "Raise High! I'm in, too!"
Over the past three seasons, they've proven quite the team. Together, they've piled up points, using complementary styles to keep opponents off balance.
Bywater has a game built on athleticism, taking advantage of her swimming speed and blazing shot. She made a splash as a freshman in 2015 by setting program single-season records for goals (82), assists (63) and points (145). Last season, she focused on improving her defense and came up with 117 steals to smash the program record.
Hallahan has a more cerebral approach but also the strength and fiery attitude to win battles around the net. The lefty has scored at least 59 goals each season, including a team-high 71 last spring. She enters her final campaign 41 points back of Rachael Bentley's career record.
"It's kind of been Scarlett and I going through this whole thing," Bywater said. "There's definitely been ups and downs, but the one consistent is that I know when I look over on the (other) side in the water Scarlett's going to be there."
Now, the challenge is translating that consistent production into team success.
Bywater and Hallahan are set to lead a group that features an interesting mix of youth and experience. The Colonials have seven seniors and six freshmen as they chase their first winning season since 2004.
In the lead up to Saturday's opener at the Bucknell Invitational, King has stressed the fundamentals as the first step in building toward a bright future.
"I really appreciate that school of thought," Hallahan said. "Pass well. Swim Fast. Work Together. Find a nice shot. Nothing crazy."
King arrived with a good scouting report of the GW program after leading CWPA foe Indiana for two decades through 2016.
The coach said this group has as much depth as he's ever seen in Foggy Bottom. Seven Colonials are back who scored at least 20 points last season and newcomers like Jaleh Moaddeli, Alana Ponce and Dara Bleiberg appear ready to contribute right away.
King has challenged Bywater and Hallahan to take advantage of it. So far, he's been impressed by how they've taken to that charge.
"I think they really want to have a different experience," King said. "I'm fully convinced that whole career leading scorer thing is meaningless to them. They've made it pretty clear to me in terms of their behavior in training, which is exactly what we want."
Regardless of what happens next, Bywater and Hallahan have assured that part of their legacy. Right now, Hallahan's name appears 44 times and Bywater gets 39 mentions in the program's 11-page record book.
They both still feel like they have work left to do, though.
"I'd like to win more than anything," Bywater said. "Just stay healthy, stay fast and stay mean in there, you know?"
"I'm really excited," Hallahan added. "I think we have a great group of people, and I think it's going to be a fun season. Hopefully, we can really surprise some people."
-- GW Water Polo (@GW_WaterPolo) February 6, 2018
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