The Most Recent Golden Bear – California Golden Bears Athletics
Michelle Minahen / Cal Athletics
Eloise Rilely leads Quinn through a team tunnel during Friday’s signing ceremony.
Team IMPACT’s Quinn Joins Cal’s Women’s Swim Team
BERKELEY – Women’s swim and diving program Cal, defending Pac-12 champion and owner of four NCAA tag team titles, added a rising star to their roster on Friday with the signing of Quinn Bywater from the IMPACT team .
Quinn, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2019, is a 6-year-old from northern California who enjoys swimming, surfing and scooter. She also enjoys reading books and watching her favorite cartoons with her younger sister, Camryn.
“All this is possible thanks to Team IMPACT”, junior Eloise Riley noted. “It’s an organization that works to match chronically ill children with college teams. The goal of the IMPACT team is to help them on their healing journey and to form friendships and bonds. We’re lucky Quinn is joining us. “
On Friday, Quinn, Camryn and their parents, Drew and Christine, arrived at the Legends Aquatic Center for the ceremony. And because they arrived early, Quinn and Cam got a special treat: swimming in the hot tub with several Golden Bears.
With Quinn and Camryn out of the water, the official signing day press conference began with Cal’s entire team in attendance to welcome Quinn to the program. The Bears first met Quinn last season when she and the Bears got to know each other. Due to the pandemic, all meetings were virtual on Zoom, but that didn’t seem to hold anyone back.
“We enjoyed getting to know both Quinn and Cam,” junior Ayla Spitz said to the sisters. “Last year it was a bummer that we weren’t able to spend some time together in person. But we were able to do these super fun Zoom activities and these would make my week. I would always hang out those with great fun. like a big smile, draw with you, learn more about you and play games. “
The Bears sent in photos and videos, along with a slew of Golden Bear gear, such as swim caps, t-shirts, pins, tote bags and stickers. In return, Quinn made lucky videos and posters for Cal’s team.
“We’ve had a lot of fun with you over the past year or so,” Riley said. “We are especially delighted to see you in person. You have been our biggest supporters.”
At the press conference, Quinn signed his Letter of Intent to officially become a member of the Golden Bears. She added Camryn’s signature, and her parents and head coach Teri mckeever added their signatures to formalize everything.
“The cool thing is you gotta do it before they all do it,” McKeever said, referring to all the other bears around. “You’re younger. I think you must be a really, really special swimmer that’s going to be our secret weapon.”
Quinn then answered several probing questions from Cal’s team and explained why she loves being a Golden Bear. She noted that her favorite part of the team was “eating donuts in the locker room” when she wanted to travel to Hawaii and have fun at the beach. Perhaps her most enthusiastic response came at the end when Spitz asked her what she would like to do next. “Swim in the hot tub!” Quinn cried.
Once the press conference was over, the Bears, Quinn and Cam tossed a big “1-2-3 Go Bears!” well done, then it was time for cupcakes and games.
Quinn and her family learned of Quinn’s disease in the fall of 2019. After a visit to her pediatrician due to dark bruises on her shins and subsequent blood tests, Quinn was diagnosed with Acute B-cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Quinn was admitted to hospital, where she stayed for 14 days to begin treatment. She continued to receive intensive treatment, including chemotherapy, for the next eight months.
During this time, Quinn lost a lot of energy, and due to the treatment, she was not allowed to participate in many physical activities. The only doctor approved was swimming, although she had to remain isolated to protect her immune system. Prior to her diagnosis, Quinn was taking swimming lessons at Anderson’s Swimming School in Pacifica. When the school heard about Quinn, she opened the pool as many times as Quinn wanted to allow her to swim on her own before class started. She started a weekly swimming routine 2-3 times a week, and it quickly became her favorite activity.
Now she can continue to swim as a California Golden Bear.
About the IMPACT team
Team IMPACT is the only non-profit organization in the United States that tackles the emotional trauma and social isolation experienced by children facing serious and chronic medical diagnoses by matching them with a varsity sports team. Our two-year therapy program complements a child’s medical treatments, allowing the child to develop relationships and skills that help them complete the full circle of healing.
By participating in Team IMPACT’s clinically informed program, children experience a true sense of belonging, which results in increased empowerment, normalization, health promotion and resilience. Families feel connected and supported as their child achieves individualized goals, while experiencing the joy of team camaraderie and inclusion; and student-athletes gain perspective and inspiration, as well as lessons in adversity and resilience.
Founded in 2011, the IMPACT team has matched more than 2,300 children with more than 700 colleges and universities in 49 states, affecting more than 65,000 student-athletes. The IMPACT team has over 1,200 teams across the country waiting to be matched with children, ages 5 to 16, who have been diagnosed with severe illness or disability and may benefit from becoming a member of the team. To find out more, or if you know of a kid who might be interested, jump in on teamimpact.org and @goteamimpact.