Going for gold in 2012

Jan. 31, 2012, 4:14 p.m. (ET)

Hey everyone!  My name is Lauren Wenger and I am currently a member of the USA women’s water polo team.  This is my first time writing a blog and I am so excited to share our story with the world!  This year is very special and I think it is important to share exciting updates as we continue our 2012 quest for Olympic GOLD!!!

I want to begin by sharing how I started playing this intense sport of water polo. Growing up I dabbled in all sports, which I guess gave me the reputation of a tomboy.  Any sport my older brother, Ian, played I wanted to play as well.  I played basketball with the boys, karate, softball, and, for many years, soccer. Ian was transitioning into high school at Long Beach Wilson and started to play water polo.  I was in eighth grade at the time and had torn ligaments in my ankle from soccer.  I decided as soon as the cast was off I was going to plunge in the pool and see if water polo was a fit.   My younger sister Jana, was also there to share the experience with me first hand.  At age 14 I decided that I was going to ditch the dirty shin guards of soccer and start playing water polo…with always the dream of one day being an Olympian.  I guess one may think I got a late start compared to other water polo players, but nevertheless the transition was a pinnacle point in my life.

We were living in Orange County at the time but transferred to attend Long Beach Wilson High school.  Wilson is a powerhouse for both men’s and women’s water polo teams!  Not only was Wilson High known for its program but they were introducing the Distinguished Scholar Program as well.  Of course my eye was on the prize. Great education and a prominent program would guide me to an athletic scholarship for college and potentially the USA pipeline for women’s water polo.

Fortunately, hard work does pay off and I was lucky to have the right people guide me to my goals and aspirations.  I knew I wanted to attend a top 3 College for academics and water polo as well as become an Olympian one-day.  Growing up I followed the pioneers for women’s water polo.  From Maureen O’ Toole, Heather Moody, Ericka Lorenz, Gubba Sheehy, Brenda Villa, Julie Swail, Robin Beauregard, and Heather Petri, were all female athletes I aspired to be like.  It is incredible how dreaming and envisioning can actually help obtain the goals one may set forth for themselves.  I am also lucky because the women I idolized were actually the one’s to pass their knowledge and experience down to me firsthand!  And…..some of these incredible athletes have and are presently my teammates.  I can honestly say that I have learned a tremendous amount from these world renown female athletes that have helped shape me as a water polo player.

Personally, I have been through our pipeline for many years now. I have been a member of the youth, junior, and currently the national team. I began on the National team in 2005 where we placed 2nd to the Hungarians at World Championships in Montreal, Canada.  From there it has been a wild ride through crazy training and tournaments.  It is pretty crazy how fast time flies by.  As I look back on all the tournaments we have been in it is unreal that it is already the 2012 Olympic year. In short, within the seven years I have been on the national team, our program has been mighty successful. We have placed 1st at the ‘07and ‘11 Pan American games which is our Olympic qualifier, at 2 of 4 World Championships (’07, ‘09) we received gold medals, at 5 of 6 (‘06, ‘07, ‘09, ‘10, ‘11) World League Super Final’s we received gold medals, and of course, the best tournament of all, we placed 2nd at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Stay tuned for the exciting news coming up! Feel free to comment or ask questions.