Nine years ago, Lauren and Lindsey Paulson gave up competitive swimming (temporarily) in favor of water polo.
The two sisters, who are a year and a half apart in age, had become bored with the monotony of constantly swimming up and down the pool and were seeking a sport with a little more action.
So, at the urging of their mother, Susan, a former high school water polo player in Santa Cruz, the two girls made the switch.
It’s a move that has proven beneficial to both.
The two Stockdale High graduates are currently teammates on the Cal State Bakersfield women’s water polo team.
Neither played high school water polo because Stockdale, like every other public school in town, doesn’t offer the sport.
Instead the two sisters got their water polo training by joining the Bakersfield Water Polo Club, run by CSUB coach Jason Gall, in 2009.
The two girls played together on the same team at BWPC and developed a strong bond in the pool.
“We always knew where each other was at in the pool,” Lindsey said. “We could always get each other the ball when it was needed.”
Along the way, the sisters also resumed competitive swimming and spent additional time together in the pool as members of the Mustangs’ girls team.
Lindsey, the younger of the two, qualified for the Central Section Swimming Championships three times.
She also had a lot of success in water polo, playing in seven National Junior Olympics for BWPC.
Both girls were good enough for Gall to recruit them to play college water polo at CSUB.
“We both had different options,” Lauren said. “We had other schools that were interested in but both of us are very family oriented and both wanted to go to Cal State Bakersfield.”
Gall was a big reason the two chose CSUB.
“Neither Lauren or I applied to go anywhere else because we kind of already knew that we were going to go to Cal State because of Jason,” Lindsey said.
Since joining the Roadrunners – Lauren in 2015 and Lindsey last year – the two sisters have combined for more than 50 goals.
Lauren had 16 her freshman year and seven last season. Lindsey recorded 12 goals a year ago and had 16 through the Roadrunners’ first 15 games this year.
The pair have been arguably even more impressive in the classroom. Both sisters were named to the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches All-Academic Team last year. Lauren currently carries a 3.7 grade-point average, one of the highest in the country for an NCAA Division I women’s water polo player.
The two young women hope before the season is over to help the Roadrunners break new ground and win a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation game for the first time since joining the conference in 2013.
Last year, CSUB was 13-21 overall and 0-7 in conference games. The Roadrunners began 2017 by winning half of it first 18 games. Eight of the nine losses came at hands of teams ranked in the top 15 at the time they played CSUB.
“We do better every single year and I think this year we definitely have a chance to win one (MPSF game),” Lauren said.
Despite their closeness in age, no sibling rivalry exists between the two sisters.
“We just want the best for each other,” Lindsey said. “We support each other. Whenever Lauren scores a goal, I get really excited for her and vice versa.”