At 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds, Long Beach State men’s water polo senior center Duncan Lynde is someone you just can’t miss. At the Ken Lindgren Aquatics Center, Lynde stands out as the tallest and biggest player on the team.
Since growing up in Florida, he’s always been a large human being.
With water polo not being a popular sport in his home state, Lynde began the long athletic journey by playing baseball and football starting at a young age. By the time Lynde turned 11 and moved across the country to Laguna Beach, other football parents demanded he be moved up to a higher age group with kids his size.
“My mom didn’t want me playing with 14-year olds, so she threw me in the water instead,” Lynde said, who already has 22 goals on the season. “It’s been that way ever since.”
The senior center credits his mother for getting him into the pool. While at Laguna Beach High School, Lynde lettered in water polo, swimming and track and field. As a senior, he scored 43 goals with 11 assists and six steals.
Coming out of high school, Lynde was immediately given an opportunity to play his freshman year for the 49ers due to other players going down with injuries. He believes that the chance to play right away as one of his biggest learning moments in his time at LBSU.
“It was like running into a wall, it wasn’t my best performance but I learned a lot from it,” Lynde said. “Learning from coaches and teammates helped out a lot, but I’d say the more valuable learning experience wasn’t even the talent or the skill learned in the first year, it was just getting my butt kicked every day.”
Now a senior, Lynde has come a long way since his freshman year in 2013. Coming off 29 goals in his sophomore season, Lynde currently sits at third on the team this season with 22 and counting so far. As a leader in the locker room, Lynde and the 49ers are looking to win the Golden Coast Conference and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
While Lynde has excelled with his size and skill set at the collegiate level, he was introduced to a new level of play this past summer when he got the chance to play for Team USA at the World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan.
“As I’m getting up to the next level internationally, which is what will come after college, hopefully. I’m running into more people that are my size,” he said. “They’re big fellas, so I’m starting to have to rely a bit less on [size], and more toward skill. For the time being, playing with all the college guys, it’s pretty nice being way bigger than them.”
After a memorable career comes to a close after this season, Lynde looks forward to relaxing a bit after dedicating so much to the sport for the past 11 years.
“I’ve missed opportunities to go abroad, to travel with my friends,” he said. “[Water polo] has kept me in about the same 100 mile radius for my whole life and I’m ready for [graduation] to be my ticket to see the world.”
Once he takes some time off to travel, Lynde still has his sights on continuing his water polo career overseas, as well as with the U.S. national team.
“I’m gonna go to Europe, play for a couple years, they have places out there where you can play for a club and then they’ll pay for your masters,” he said. “I [also] got my foot in the door with the Olympic team here and I’m gonna be riding that train as far as I can, just grinding, and if it works out that’s amazing. It’s not easy so we’ll see what happens.”