Spirit in Speedos

Players and administration weigh in on the implications of the annual water polo speedo run


The girls water polo team poses for a photo before their first water polo speedo run. Photo by Christine Xu

Kathryn Foo and Jami Lim

The entire locker room was buzzing, more alive than normal. Initially, senior Kinton Duong credited it to the sounds — the loud, thumping music that slightly muffled the shouts of the players surrounding him. The unusual sights contributed too, with his teammates, including himself, dressed in nothing but their speedos, shoes and an occasional ski mask. But really, it was the adrenaline — the building anticipation of the players as they prepared to run.

Each year, at the end of the senior class Homecoming skit, the Boys Water Polo players run a lap around the rally court in their speedos. Dubbed the “Water Polo Speedo Run,” Duong says that it has become a cherished homecoming tradition for the team, with the locker room preparation for the speedo run being only a sliver of the team bonding that the annual tradition brings.

In 2021, the speedo run evolved to include the girls water polo team for the first time. According to senior Maya Mizrahi, the team was excited to be included in the tradition. The administration had also initiated a separate rule where anyone who participated was required to wear shorts during the run, which Mizrahi says garnered feelings of “frustration from [the] teams.”

Water polo player Bill Deacon runs through the stage after the conclusion to the senior homecoming skit. Photo by Alyssa Hui

“I enjoyed the fact that they included the girl’s team because I think it made both teams bond together,” Mizrahi said. “But the fact that they wouldn’t let us wear our usual swimsuits, even though we wear those every single day to games and people on campus see us in them frequently was a little disappointing. It made it less traditional.”

While Duong acknowledges how the run could be potentially inappropriate and therefore entail restrictions, he also feels the significance of the tradition is dampened by the change. However, Principal Ben Clausnitzer supports change being initiated, believing that the tradition should be celebrated with players wearing attire appropriate to their environment.

“We want people to engage in spirit and have fun [in a way] where they don’t actually wear their uniforms,” Clausnitzer said. “The uniforms aren’t always a fit for a different place.”

On the other hand, Mizrahi expresses that there is a need to normalize the players’ uniforms, believing that students have the opportunity to see the players in uniform at any time during games and that the run is no different. Instead, she feels the speedos contribute to the authenticity of the tradition, making the run more iconic.

“It’s important that we don’t try to censor something that’s natural, like us being in our swimsuits,” Mizrahi said. “We shouldn’t try to shame our students just for their bodies and how they look in a swimsuit. [The speedo run] is a long-standing tradition and it’s not really a surprise to anyone that it’s gonna happen.”

Clausnitzer also points out the exclusive nature of the event and wants to address the need for a wider conversation around the tradition. He says that ideally, the tradition would be reconstructed to become an experience that is less independent from spectators.

“What we have tried to do over time as a school is try to open those communications with the students to say that it isn’t something that’s a school activity [and] it’s not something that we would recommend,” Clausnitzer said. “But if a group of people [want to] do something, you ought to at least do it in a way that is as inclusive as it can be.”

Clausnitzer applauds the effort of team spirit by water polo and other sports teams, but hopes for a more united approach to these traditions. He strives to find a new form of team festivity that minimizes the effect on students but still encourages unity across different teams.

“I think there’s a time and place for everything and we want students to be spirited,” Clausnitzer said. “I wish we could find an actual school event, one that’s school-sponsored, that could honor and celebrate their work in a way that’s more constructive and doesn’t distract from all the amazing things they do in the pool.”