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How Does The U.S. Women’s Water Polo Team Compare To Other Team USA Dynasties?

By Karen Price | Aug. 01, 2017, 12:06 p.m. (ET)

The U.S. women's water polo team celebrates after the medal ceremony for women's water polo at the 2017 FINA World Championships on July 28, 2017 in Budapest, Hungary.


The U.S. women’s water polo team is in the midst of a dominant run.

On Friday, Team USA claimed its second consecutive title at the FINA World Championships, having also won in 2015.

Last summer, Team USA claimed its second consecutive Olympic gold medal in Rio, having also won in 2012 in London.

Meanwhile, the Americans have won the past four FINA World League Super Finals, a streak that began in 2014, as well as the 2014 World Cup. They are the first team in women’s water polo history to hold those four major titles at once. And, as a cherry on top, the team also won the gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games.

Talk about a dynasty.

So where does this dynasty stack up against others in U.S. Olympic sports history? Here’s a look at some other American teams that have enjoyed dominating runs at their sports’ highest levels over the years:

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Men’s Basketball (1936-present)
Team USA

Which era do you pick? The U.S. men’s basketball team won seven consecutive gold Olympic gold medals beginning in 1936, when the sport was first contested, and won 62 consecutive games as it dominated the Olympic court through 1968. That amazing streak ended in controversial fashion against the Soviet Union in 1972. But Team USA came back and won an eighth gold medal in 1976, and after the boycotted 1980 Games the Americans reclaimed gold in 1984. Then beginning with the Dream Team in 1992, when NBA professionals played for the first time, the U.S. has won in six of the last seven Olympic gold-medals, with the only setback coming in Athens in 2004, when Team USA won bronze.


Women’s Basketball (1984-present)

The U.S. women’s basketball team’s victory over Spain in the gold-medal game in Rio nearly a year ago was its 49th Olympic win in a row and gave the team its sixth consecutive gold medal. Team USA’s last loss in the Olympics was in 1992, when the Americans finished with the bronze medal. That’s the only year they haven’t won gold going back to 1984, giving them eight out of the last nine Olympic titles. 


Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor, Beach Volleyball (2004-2012)

From 2004 through 2012, when May-Treanor retired, there was no more dominant duo on the sand. They won gold in three consecutive Olympics and never lost a match in the process, going a perfect 21-0 during their partnership. Walsh Jennings continues to play to this day, having won the bronze medal in Rio with then-partner April Ross. 


Women’s Gymnastics (2011-present)

It wasn’t even a close competition between the U.S. and the rest of the world at the 2016 Olympics. The Final Five won team gold by 8.209 points, the largest margin of victory ever at a major meet under the current scoring standards, and defended the gold medal that the Fierce Five captured in London in 2012. The U.S. also won team the last three team titles at the championships, in 2011, 2014 and 2015. Individually, Americans have won every Olympic all-around gold medal since 2004 and six of seven all-around world titles since 2007. 


Women’s Ice Hockey (2013-present)

International women’s hockey has long been a U.S. and Canadian affair. Over 18 world championships dating back to 1990 and five Olympic Winter Games dating back to 1998, Team USA and Team Canada have met for the gold medal in all but one tournament. The Americans have gained the upper hand at the world championships of late, having won seven of the last eight dating back to 2008, including four in a row starting in 2013. Now they just need to get past Canada in the Olympics, after finishing second to the Canadians in 2010 and 2014.


Women’s Eight, Rowing (2006-present)

Much has been written about not only the U.S. women’s rowing eight boat’s dominance but also the lack of fanfare the streak receives in the mainstream. After all, this may well be the greatest existing dynasty with the least amount of attention in sports. With an ever-changing cast of athletes, the U.S. eight boat just keeps winning. Team USA won the Olympic gold medal last summer in Rio, its third in a row. That marked the 11th season in a row in which the team won an Olympic or world title — a streak that could run to 12 when this year’s world championships come to Sarasota, Florida, in September. This is all after winning the silver medal in Athens in 2004 for the first U.S. medal in the event in 20 years.


Men’s Eight, Rowing (1920-1956)

Long before the women began their current world title streak in 2006, the U.S. men had a dominant eight boat on the water. The sport was controlled by the British back in 1920, when the Games of the VII Olympiad opened in Antwerp, Belgium, but a U.S. crew made up of Naval Academy personnel scored a major upset and kicked off a streak that would see the Americans win gold at every Olympic Games through 1956 before the Germans ended their run in 1960. 


Women’s Soccer (2008-2015)

The U.S. women’s soccer team has been a standard-bearer for the sport since winning the first FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991 and the first Olympic women’s soccer tournament in 1996. In all, the U.S. has won three of seven World Cups and four of a possible six Olympic gold medals. The most dominant stretch in USWNT history began with Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012 and culminated in a World Cup victory in 2015. The Americans also finished second at the 2011 World Cup.


Women’s Softball (1986–2010)

Any number of examples exist to demonstrate just how dominant the U.S. women’s softball team was over this quarter century. Prior to winning the first Olympic softball gold medal in 1996, Team USA had a firm grip on the world championship, having won three straight in 1986, 1990 and 1994. The Americans won the next four world titles, through 2010, as well as Olympic gold medals in 2000 and 2004. The only blemish during that run was a loss to Japan in the 2008 Olympic gold-medal game. Softball was removed from the Olympic program after those Games, but Team USA will have another shot for Olympic gold as the sport will be contested again at the Olympic level beginning in 2020.


Men’s Medley Relays, Swimming (1960-present)

Some dynasties never lose. Since the men’s 4x100-meter medley was added to the Olympic Games in 1960, the U.S. team has won every year it entered a team. The only year in which the U.S. men did not win Olympic gold in the event was 1980, when the United States boycotted the Moscow Games. The streak continued last summer in Rio, when Michael Phelps won his final Olympic race along with teammates Ryan Murphy, Cody Miller and Nathan Adrian. Team USA men and women have a golden history in all the Olympic swimming relays, but it’s hard to top a dynasty that’s never lost.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.