There are very few women’s water polo programs with as much consistent success as the United States has exhibited over the last 10 years. As the only nation to medal in all three Olympics featuring women’s water polo, the U.S. lays claim to three FINA World Championships – a feat no other nation has accomplished. In the midst of yet another white-hot run that has seen gold medals at the 2009 FINA World Championships; 2010 FINA World Cup; and 2009, 2010, and 2011 FINA World League Super Finals, Team USA marches towards London with one singular goal in mind: gold.
A gold medal is the only thing that has escaped the women’s team, as the squad earned silver in Beijing with a heartbreaking loss to the Netherlands. While the success has remained the same, the faces have not. Longtime Head Coach Guy Baker stepped down and was replaced by veteran University of California, Los Angeles Coach Adam Krikorian in early 2009. Krikorian has picked up right where Baker left off in guiding the team to championship success. Joining Krikorian on his staff is 2004 Olympian Dan Klatt and a holdover from the Baker regime, two-time Olympian and recent USA Water Polo Hall of Fame inductee Heather Moody.
Stalwarts and three-time Olympians Brenda Villa and Heather Petri remain in the fold, while 2004 Olympian Kelly Rulon has returned to the national-team scene. 2010 FINA Female Water Polo Player of the Year, Betsey Armstrong, remains a key to the defense in goal, while utility Lauren Wenger and powerful center Kami Craig are some of the best on earth at their respective positions. Defender Jessica Steffens returns in 2011 after missing all of 2010 following shoulder surgery and is an integral part of the USA’s highly touted defensive machine.
The U.S. can qualify by winning the 2011 Pan American Games or by competing in the 2012 Olympic Qualification Tournament. There are no trials, and the team roster is selected by the coaching staff through evaluation.