The founder and head coach of Kraken Water Polo is Owen
Sweitzer. “Coach Owen” was previously a youth
club team swimming coach for the Atlanta Swim Academy.
He played and helped start high school water polo at Wheeler High School in Marietta, one of the founding teams in the Georgia High School Water Polo Association (GHSWPA) in 2006. The original Wheeler coach was Karina Cordisco. On the side, Owen started a youth water polo club named "Kraken Water Polo" to promote water polo in local neighborhood pools during the summers. Kraken Water Polo was featured in USA Water Polo's Skipshot magazine in its Summer 2009 issue as an up-and-coming club.
When water polo at Wheeler lost then coach Richard Tavernaro and the school sponsorship in 2010, Coach Owen stepped in with the Kraken Water Polo club to provide a platform for water polo to continue at Wheeler. From that point, the high school team has competed as "Wildcat Water Polo" in the GHSWPA fall competition season, with Coach Owen as its head coach. Assistant coaches have included past Wildcat players, and since 2016 Jeff and Kelsey Drews, who have played a significant role in bringing the teams to a higher level.
The Wildcats have been league runner-ups three times (2006, 2007, 2008) and in 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2022 the boys team won the Division I State Champions. The girls team won the State Championship in 2018. A large part of our recent success was the addition of Coaches Jeff and Kelsey Drews.
Although mostly Wheeler students, the Wildcats are joined by players from other schools in Cobb County not having water polo, which is allowed under GHSWPA rules since water polo has not yet obtained varsity status. The GHSWPA fall competition league had 40 teams in 4 divisions in 2019. (Kraken had 6 Wildcat teams represented: Wildcat A, B, C, D, and Lady Wildcats A & B.) The 2020 season was postponed to Spring 2021 due to covid, and downsized to 22 teams. In the Fall of 2021, normal play resumed and the Wildcats entered 6 teams again.
High schools represented by Kraken & Wildcat players over the years include: Wheeler, Campbell, Pope, Hillgrove, Harrison, Pebblebrook, Walton, Kell, McEachern, Marietta, Roswell, Calhoun, Cumberland Christian, Mt. Bethel Christian, Johnson Ferry Christian, Holy Spirit Prep, Cambridge, Cherokee, Blessed Trinity and homeschoolers.
In 2011, Kraken added a spring program, focused more on skill development and introducing new players to water polo, along with a few scrimmages with other clubs that also were active in the spring. The Kraken spring program is open to boys and girls, 11 years and up, any school.
In 2016, the spring program had grown to the point of creating an "A" and a "B" team to even out levels of play. In the 2016 GHSWPA season, a girls team was added for the first time (“Lady Wildcats”) with original Wheeler Water Polo coach Karina Cordisco as lead girls coach. In the 2017 spring season, a Kraken spring girls team was also added, which continues to the present.
In the 2017 fall GHSWPA competition season, Kraken added a Wildcat "C" team for beginners and younger players, and in 2019 further added a Wildcat "D" team to make sure that all interested players had an appropriate level team to join.
Every summer, Kraken continues its youth water polo activities by sponsoring a series of summer pick-up games in a local neighborhood pool, generously hosted by Weatherstone Swim and Racquet Club in east Cobb. New players as well as alumni of Kraken and Wildcat seasons past are invited.
Kraken also conducts clinics and organizes pick-up games at other neighborhood swimming pools during the summer.
Starting in 2017, Kraken’s Division I team in GHSWPA (Wildcat A) competed in regional tournaments in Cincinnati, Knoxville and Atlanta, as well as winning the 2019 GHSWPA State Championship. 2020 was lost to Covid, but we rebounded in Fall 2021 to win the GHSWPA State Championship! In the GHSWPA off-season, Kraken participates in a variety of travel tournaments, mostly in Florida.
Kraken competed with a Boys 16-U team in the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics in Dallas, Texas in the summer of 2022 and finished 13th in the top Platinum division. And with another GHSWPA State Championship in 2022, the future is looking promising as well!