Swimming World Presents – Olympic Water Polo Preview: Dominance and Parity On Display In Tokyo

Swimming World June 2021 - Olympic Water Polo Preview - Dominance and Parity On Display In Tokyo
U.S. Team Captain Maggie Steffens [PHOTO BY JARED GRAY, USA WATER POLO]

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Olympic Water Polo Preview: Dominance and Parity On Display In Tokyo

By Dan D’Addona

While the U.S. women have dominated
international water polo since 2015—winning their second straight Olympics in 2016 plus three World Championships in 2015-17-19—a different men’s champion has emerged at each of the last three major international competitions—Serbia (2016 Olympics), Croatia (2017 Worlds) and Italy (2019 Worlds).

 

The U.S. women’s water polo team enters the 2021 Tokyo Olympics as the defending champion with a lot to prove.

In 2016 at Rio, the United States became the first country to win back-to-back gold medals. Since women’s water polo became an Olympic sport in 2000, Team USA is also the only country to medal in each Olympiad.

As they prepare for an unprecedented third straight title, their success has allowed the sport to grow as well.

“It is important for us to make the game better,” believes U.S. team captain Maggie Steffens. “We want to build up women’s water polo into something girls want to play. We want people to be a part of the sport. How can we propel the sport forward? Hopefully, we can keep passing the torch forward.”
The U.S. defeated Italy 12-5 in the final in 2016 in Rio to claim gold. Russia won the bronze. The U.S. also won the 2019 World Championships with an 11-6 win over Spain in the final.

The preparation for this year’s Olympics have been completely different with the COVID-19 pandemic canceling the Games and limiting international competition the past year.

“It has been difficult to scout opponents,” shares U.S. goalie Ashleigh Johnson. “We have been trying to visualize our opponents more and working on it that way. From the video that we have and what are seeing, we are doing a lot to prepare ourselves. Once we get there, we will be ready. We are gearing up.”

The change in training and mindset has been different, but it has still led to improvements.

“How lucky I am to get to practice against Ashleigh Johnson every day,” says Steffens. “That will help us get better and improve. Preparation does really build confidence. But it is definitely tough not to play games. It gives you a perspective and gratitude to make the most of it if you get the chance to play. We are preparing with computers, but not feeling those emotions. We are training six to seven hours a day six days a week. Then we do recovery work and video work.”

Meanwhile, Serbia is the defending men’s Olympic champion, defeating Croatia 11-7 in the 2016 gold medal match. Italy defeated Montenegro 12-10 to earn the bronze…

To access our complete Olympic Water Polo preview,
Click here to download the full June 2021 Issue of Swimming World, available now!

Swimming World June 2021 - Nathan Adrian - A Natural Leader - COVER
[PHOTO CREDIT: TAYLOR BRIEN]


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Swimming World June 2021 Issue

FEATURES

12  |  U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS PREVIEW
by David Rieder
The fastest swimmers in the United States will be putting their hopes and dreams on the line at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials-Swimming, June 13-20, in Omaha, Neb. If realized, they’ll have the opportunity to perform next month on the world’s grandest stage: the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

22  |  A NATURAL LEADER
by John Lohn
Still producing elite-level performances, Nathan Adrian, now 32 and pursuing his fourth Olympic Games, has the opportunity to further his already lofty reputation. And whenever his days in the sport come to an end, Adrian will be viewed for his excellence in the sport as an athlete, teammate and ambassador.

25  |  NJCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: QUALITY & QUANTITY
by Andy Ross
That’s the same winning formula that Indian River’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams have been using for nearly a half-century at the NJCAA Championships. The Pioneer men now have won 47 straight team titles; the women, 39—and 43 of the past 47.

26  |  TAKEOFF TO TOKYO: A FORGOTTEN STAR
by John Lohn
By all measures, Don Schollander is a legend in the sport, a Hall of Fame talent who was unrivaled in his heyday. Yet, his impact has been lost to a combination of unfortunate timing and modern-day fascination.

29  |  DOMINANCE AND PARITY ON DISPLAY IN TOKYO
by Dan D’Addona
While the U.S. women have dominated international water polo since 2015—winning their second straight Olympics in 2016 plus three World Championships in 2015-17-19—a different men’s champion has emerged at each of the last three major international competitions—Serbia (2016 Olympics), Croatia (2017 Worlds) and Italy (2019 Worlds).

30  |  ISHOF: REMEMBERING THE KALILI BROTHERS—90 YEARS AGO
by Bruce Wigo
As kids who preferred to dive for coins rather than race in a swimming pool, brothers Maiola and Manuella Kalili from Hawaii would eventually become national champions and Olympic silver medalists in 1932.

33  |  NUTRITION: HOW MANY CALORIES SHOULD I EAT?
by Dawn Weatherwax
As long course, Olympics and endurance events get underway, a common question is: “How much do I need to eat?” This is a loaded question—one in which the author will try to simplify.

35  |  MENTAL PREP: BEFORE THE BEEP WITH AMY BILQUIST
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COACHING

38  |  SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: MAXIMIZING SWIMMING VELOCITY (Part 2)—STROKE CYCLE PHASES
by Rod Havriluk
Swimmers typically decrease non-propulsive time to decrease stroke time, increase stroke rate and swim faster. Research shows that a further decrease in the non-propulsive time is possible and should produce further performance improvement.

40  |  A COACHES’ GUIDE TO  ENERGY SYSTEMS
by Michael J. Stott
In the first of two parts, Swimming World explores the concept of energy systems and how coaches can use them to maximize athlete development and performance.

42  |  SPECIAL SETS: KATIE LEDECKY—RUN-UP TO RIO 2016
by Michael J. Stott
With this month’s Olympic Swimming Trials now upon us, Swimming World takes a back-to-the-future approach to revisit some training done by superstar Katie Ledecky prior to the 2016 U.S. team qualifying meet.

44  |  Q&A WITH COACH  CATHERINE KASE
by Michael J. Stott

45  |  HOW THEY TRAIN  HALEY ANDERSON
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

037  |  DRYSIDE TRAINING:  TRAINING AMY BILQUIST
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

47  |  UP & COMERS:  KEELAN COTTER
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS

08  |  A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

11  |   DID YOU KNOW:  ABOUT BUSTER CRABBE?

48  |  GUTTERTALK

49  |  PARTING SHOT

 

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