Swimming World Tabs Maddie Musselman and Filip Filipovic as Water Polo Players of the Year

usa-water-pol-Jul 28, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; USA player Madeline Musselman (2) prepares to shoot against Hungary in a group B match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tatsumi Water Polo Centre. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Swimming World Tabs Maddie Musselman and Filip Filipovic as Water Polo Players of the Year

As Swimming World continues its look back at the 2021 year in aquatic sports, we shift gears to water polo. At the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the United States women and Serbian men stormed to gold medals, with Maddie Musselman and Filip Filipovic leading the way, respectively. The contributions supplied by Musselman and Filipovic led to their selections as Swimming World’s Water Polo Players of the Year. Here is a look at what they achieved.

Maddie Musselman, United States

The weight of two consecutive Olympic gold medals, to say nothing of a year-long delay of the Tokyo Games, was heavy for the American women. It took a player like Maddie Musselman entering the constellation of stars to lift Team USA to a third straight gold. The Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, Musselman, 23, dominated when the U.S. needed her. She scored five goals in the semifinal win over Russia, then recorded a hat trick in the gold-medal romp over Spain. With 18 goals, she was even with teammate Maggie Steffens, the 2016 MOP, for second in Tokyo in winning her second career gold.

Filip Filipovic, Serbia

The third time was the charm for Filip Filipovic and Serbia at Rio in 2016, finally ascending the top step of the podium after consecutive bronze medals. Five years later, the 34-year-old did what it took to keep Serbia there. The left-handed captain was second on his team with 16 goals, tied for ninth-most in the tournament after being the joint top-scorer in Rio. He scored twice in the semifinal to rally Serbia past previously unbeaten Spain, then scored twice in the final victory over Greece. He’s one of just 11 men ever to win four Olympic medals in water polo. He’s also the only athlete to be named Swimming World’s Male Water Polo Player of the year two times (2016 and 2021).