Gwen Kallmeyer makes a splash in her first meet of the season

Lucie James

Her feet leave the starting block, as parents, coaches and teammates cheer around the perimeter of the pool. Water splashes the crowd and soon after, freshman Gwen Kallmeyer finishes the first meet of her high school career. With nine years of swim team experience, Gwen is familiar with practices and long meets.

On Feb. 15, Gwen participated in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle races against Tam High school, representing Redwood. Despite her 100 free race not being the best, she won her heat, with a time of 1:00.46, and ended in the top three in the 50 free with a 27.18, which she considers about average.

Joining the team as a freshman, Gwen wasn’t nervous as she was familiar with some of her teammates already from water polo. However, she is still figuring out whom she works well with during practices.

Photo courtesy of Olivia Kallmeyer
Swimming butterfly in a meet for her old club team, Kallmeyer races her way to the wall.

“I don’t have a lot of people I used to swim with, so I’m bouncing around training with whoever I can find. There aren’t that many challenges, but I am just finding my place and swimming,” Gwen said.

Senior Olivia Kallmeyer, Gwen’s older sister who played water polo with her this year, is impressed by her sister’s success and sees her as a strong and determined swimmer.

“She has been swimming for a really long time, and she’s never intimidated by anyone or anything. She is very self-motivated. She has a very competitive mindset, and she has always been really competitive with both boys and girls, which has made her stand out,” Olivia said.

Previously, Gwen swam for the Sleepy Hollow swim team, which is a club team in Marin. Gwen understood that swimming for a high school team would be a little different, but so far she hasn’t faced any significant challenges.

“I knew [the team] was a lot bigger, and everyone was practicing at the same time, so I wasn’t going to get more personal attention from the coaches. I went in there and swam [anyways], and it’s been okay,” Gwen said.  

Prior to this swim season, Gwen was a key water polo player for the Giants this year, as she always started according to teammate and junior Cassidy Fragakis. Due to Gwen’s outstanding performance during water polo and experience with being a competitive swimmer, she hoped to be as strong coming into the season, as water polo helped to prepare her mentally and physically.

“I expected to be separated from the people of my own age because I saw them during water polo, and I grew up swimming and playing water polo. I was raised near the pool, so I knew it wasn’t going to be too hard for me, but I wasn’t expecting to be some hot shot,” Gwen said.

According to Fragakis, who also played water polo this year, Gwen’s talent is undeniable as she is always ahead of other teammates during practice.

“She is really strong on both [swim and water polo]; she is always the front swimmer and ahead of everyone. It’s really good to have her on both teams; in water polo, it was really fun, because even though she’s a freshman, she already took a leadership role as being one of the best players on the team. She is definitely someone you can always rely on,” Fragakis said.

While the swim season is just beginning, Fragakis sees the potential in Gwen to be one of the better swimmers on the team, and hopes to see her improve throughout the season.

Photo Courtesy of Gwen Kallmeyer
Swimming freestyle, Kallmeyer practices her stroke for her upcoming meets.

“She has really good energy all the time; she can always switch from swimming really hard to blowing bubbles in the pool, and in my last season next year for water polo I’m really looking forward to working with her as a teammate and just watching her progress,” Fragakis said.

While Fragakis spends another season being a teammate with Gwen, Olivia is also curious to see how her sister will adapt to high school life while keeping up with a competitive sport. She believes her sister will continue her sports and hopes Gwen will remain focused throughout high school.

“I think she will continue to swim competitively and play water polo. My hope for her is that she doesn’t burn out, and that her first couple years at Redwood don’t boost her ego too much because I think that’s how a lot of athletes burnout,” Olivia said.

Due to Gwen’s talent and past results in water polo and swim meets, Olivia believes Gwen has an opportunity to continue both water polo and swimming at a collegiate level.

“I am thinking that she has the chance to get recruited if she wants to continue swimming and play water polo in college because she is really good at it and there are a lot of people supporting her. We have really good teams around Marin, so she has been coached by really incredible coaches,” Olivia said.

As Gwen is only a freshman, she has many opportunities to improve at a high school level in both water polo and swimming before going to college. Gwen will compete in her next race on March 15 away against San Marin.