Five-Time Olympian Jesse Smith Leads U.S. Olympic Water Polo Team

Stanford, CA; December 2, 2018; Men's Water Polo, Stanford vs USC.
Ben Hallock; Photo Courtesy: Hector Garcia-Molina

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United States men’s water polo coach Dejan Udovicic on Friday named the 13-man roster for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, led by five-time Olympian Jesse Smith.

Team USA is fresh off a silver medal at the FINA World League Super Final in Tbilisi, Georgia. The team has been qualified since its gold medal victory at the 2019 Pan Am Games. All roster nominations are subject to approval by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Smith, 38, ties Tony Azevedo’s record with five Olympic Games. He was part of the silver medalist team from the 2008 Beijing Games. Alex Bowen, Luca Cupido, Ben Hallock and Alex Obert were each part of the team from the 2016 Olympics that finished fifth in the group and didn’t qualify for the knockout stage.

Smith will anchor the defense. Hallock and Obert are two of the team’s primary options at two meters. Hallock is the first American man to win Champions League with the club Pro Recco. Obert also participated in that competition with VK JUG of Croatia.

“Being named to my second Olympic Games is incredible, it’s been a long journey since 2016,” Hallock said in a press release. “(It’s) a completely new group of guys and the work we’ve put in has been awesome, I can’t wait to get to Tokyo. I think the team has come together really nicely and we’re ready to fight for each other in Tokyo.”

The team includes eight first-time Olympians. The group is coming off the FINA Super Final silver medal, the third in program history. The 13-man roster is culled from a 19-man national team program player pool.

“I’ve been working really hard since I was about nine years old trying to make this dream come true, and for it to finally become a reality, it feels really good,” said Hannes Daube, one of the first-timers. “Obviously there is more to come and more goals to reach but right now this is a big accomplishment and a check off my bucket list.”

Under new rules in Tokyo, each nation will designate 12 active players before each match.

U.S. Olympic Men’s Water Polo Team Nominees

  • Alex Wolf (Huntington Beach, CA/UCLA/Bruin)
  • Johnny Hooper (Los Angeles, CA/California/LA Premier)
  • Marko Vavic (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA/USC/Trojan)
  • Alex Obert (Loomis, CA/Pacific/NYAC)
  • Hannes Daube (Long Beach, CA/USC/North Irvine WPC)
  • Luca Cupido (Santa Margherita, Italy/California/Olympic Club)
  • Ben Hallock (Westlake Village, CA/Stanford/LA Premier)
  • Dylan Woodhead (San Anselmo, CA/Stanford/Sleepy Hollow Aquatics & Stanford WPF)
  • Alex Bowen (Santee, CA/Stanford/NYAC)
  • Ben Stevenson (Reno, NV/Pacific/NYAC)
  • Jesse Smith (Coronado, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC)
  • Max Irving (Long Beach, CA/UCLA/NYAC)
  • Drew Holland (Orinda, CA/Stanford/Olympic Club)


  • Head Coach: Dejan Udovicic
  • Assistant Coaches: Alex Rodriguez, Gavin Arroyo
  • Team Manager: Lori Verdegaal
  • Sports Medicine Manager: Chris Bates