Keeping up with our athletes – is a new segment we have started in order to see how our athletes go on to succeed after they have experienced their time with BIWPA. We have had the privilege to stay in touch with most of our athletes and we want others to see how they reflect back on their experience as well as apply it to their current careers. Athletes discuss how BIWPA has helped shape them into the athletes they are today and as individuals both inside and out of the water. Here is Thacher Scannell’s story!
Hey Thacher, how’s it going?
Pretty good and you?
I’m good thanks! Thank you for taking the time again to have a chat with us regarding your BIWPA experience and how you are doing. I’ll first start off by asking you basic questions just so the readers know a little bit more about you. Is that fine?
Yes, that’s fine.
First things first, tell me where you live and what team you currently play for?
I currently live in Stanford, Connecticut which is in the northern-eastern part of the United States. The club I currently play for is Greenwich Aquatics which is just on the next town over. My high school team is called the, “Brunswick Bruins”, which is a private school that I go to. I am currently finishing my senior year at Brunswick.
Brunswick Bruins team
Taking it a step back, when did you start to play water polo? Give us a little bit of your background with water polo.
I started playing water polo around the age of 9 or 10 and I got involved with it because of my previous club that had a swim team. I had been swimming for a while when I decided to try water polo for the first time and I really enjoyed it and I went from that.
What position do you play?
I pretty much play anywhere around the perimeter, but I don’t play the centre forward position or the goalie of course. I am also a right-handed player. I’m a lefty in terms of writing things down, but with sports and water polo, I use my right hand. Being able to use both hands for different things, I have been able to develop my lefty game too, so I am a little bit of both to be honest.
What are you taking in high school or is there anything in particular that you know you want to do in college?
We don’t really have any majors in high school, at least in my private school, I know some schools do, so we take general courses. I am pretty interested in the sciences and working with money and stuff. I may want to be a banker or go into the banking industry one day. I am still unsure.
Have you started to apply to some colleges yet?
We are looking various schools that have water polo programs, but also with swimming, so my parents and I are looking at those. However, the deadline isn’t until a couple of weeks so we haven’t applied quite yet.
Do you have some specific in mind for water polo?
Although I might be going to college for swimming, for water polo, I have been talking to Pomona College in Claremont, California. It is part of their five-school system there. They also have one of the USA men’s national team coaches there as their head coach, Alex Rodriguez, so that would be a great learning experience for me.
Do you also swim at the same time that you play water polo?
Yeah, it depends on the season that I focus on mainly. In the fall, I usually focus on water polo and in the winter time, it is swimming. In the spring time, it is a mix of both, but summer it really depends on what is happening. The polo season only runs in the fall so it ends up working out.
For swimming, do you specialize in certain strokes?
Primarily long-distance freestyle and butterfly.
That is very cool that you are following water polo or potentially swimming all the way through your college years. You will have a great time Thacher!
Going back now to BIWPA, how did you come about finding it?
It was kind of my mom who found the program in Barcelona. She wanted me to go to Spain to play water polo, apart from learning Spanish, so we just decided to go. It was really easy to find all the necessary info that we needed and you guys were really helpful in making the process simple.
When was the first time you found out about this?
First time I went to BIWPA was when I had finished 8th grade. It was the summer of 2014.
How many times did you come to BIWPA and what program did you do exactly?
I came to Barcelona twice consecutively. The first time was for a summer camp I did in 2014 right in the summer of me heading into high school and the summer I also did a national training camp back in the US. The second summer was also a camp in 2015 and I got the chance to play with Club Natació Rubi. It was great to get some playing experience with them and I learned a lot.
Thacher, during one of the Summer Camps in Barcelona
What would you say was the best thing you liked about BIWPA?
Well water polo wise, the most favourite thing I did was being able to hang out with kids from everywhere. It was cool because you didn’t know them at first, so you’d be shooting randomly with these other kids not knowing who they were, but as practices progressed and you started to know them, you would become close friends with them. You guys did a great job in the pool with team chemistry because you could see how each of us would improve and acclimated to each other’s type of play pretty quick. For the non-water polo part, I like that I still talk to people from BIWPA, and this is 3 years ago that I first met them. It was with other players that I went to the beach with, played volleyball with, and had beach soccer matches. It was the whole experience (water polo and non-water polo) parts that really made us make those connections.
Did you feel that some skills or other things you learned from BIWPA, you were able to apply it to your game play in the US?
Oh yes definitely! So, a couple of things that I learned was moving around the defender to steal the ball. The way I learned to steal the ball at BIWPA’s camps, the US didn’t have to teach me, they just told me to do it. I felt great knowing that I already knew how to do it from learning it at BIWPA and especially that it was something that the US told me after 3 years I had been in Barcelona. Basically, they were kind of behind the ball vs. BIWPA and a lot of the other skills I learnt from BIWPA I was also able to teach some of the other kids from around here, which they really appreciated as well.
Do you remember who your BIWPA coaches were and do you recall something important they said that really stuck with you?
Yes, Enric Carnella was the coach for my first year, and then my Rubi coach was Ferran. Cristina although wasn’t a coach, was very helpful with things we did around there. Yuri was also my coach at that time as well! Something that stuck with me that a coach said wasn’t necessarily a quote or anything, but more rather criticism. At Rubi, there was a coach that thought I was fooling around when I didn’t think I was. He did yell at me and having this experience really made me take the game more seriously. It bothered me in a constructive way because I knew I wasn’t fooling around even though he thought I was and It really made me work harder and pay attention more at a younger age which would help my progress as an athlete later down the road.
You recently played in the Junior Olympics in the US, how was that and how was your experience?
It was good, it was my down year, meaning next year I will be older for the 18U category. My Greenwich Aquatics team didn’t do so well but we have gotten bronze and gold in previous years.
Thacher Scannell, with his team at the 2017 Junior Olympics
What would you say is the main difference between Spanish water polo and American water polo?
I would say physicality. Just comparing it to scrimmaging, in Spain, the physicality is more graceful, whereas in the US, physicality is used with brute force. In Spain, it is more about fines punching people, where we go above the water in America. This also happens a fair amount.
Are there any water polo players that you look up to?
In the States, there are two guys that I look up to. The first played in Greenwich Aquatics when I was 10, and since I didn’t have a team, I played with the 12 and under team. His name was Thomas Dunstan whom later went on to play in the Rio Olympics and it was a pretty big deal as it was the first guy to ever do that from our club. The second guy was Charlie Allens. He was always nice to me growing up and taught me a lot of things about water polo and he now plays at Harvard.
What does Thacher miss the most about BIWPA?
There are a couple of things I miss. First, the place where we played was really cool. It had a beautiful pool and their installations were amazing. I miss the coaches a lot too because they were really helpful and really nice. Even if you didn’t speak Spanish, they would try their best to speak English. It was also great to learn from a wide range of people that you aren’t used to before, so learning water polo was fun!
Would you recommend BIWPA to other people?
I have actually recommended BIWPA to other people and two of my friends actually came. People ask me all the time about my experience with Spain and how it was and I tell them that it was really fun and I tell them to go. It will be a great learning life and water polo experience for everyone.
Lastly, do you see yourself coming back to Spain any time soon or after college?
Yeah, I might be coming back by Christmas time to play for Rubi again and then depending on how college search goes, I might be going for a longer period of time. I might also try and do a gap year in between my freshman year and after I graduate from high school and play in Spain.
Well Thacher, I wish you all the very best and I hope your search for colleges goes well. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
Thank you. It was my pleasure.