Water Polo as an organized team sport has been around since the mid 19th century, and with that age comes a multitude of players and teams. This means that there have been players of varying skills and talents entering the sport over the years. Skill and talent is a nearly impossible idea to pin down as black and white facts, as anyone’s idea of skill can be opinion based.
However, with any good player in any sport, you can distinguish the legendary players from the average ones. Here are a few legendary players and teams that have in some way made an impact on the sport.
Ivo started making waves in the water polo scene as a player during the years of 1968, 1969, and 1970. During which time he helped his Croatian team to several national and international championships, along with a European Cup Championship in 1970. Later in his career, he took his talents to Greece as a coach for the national team and coached them through the Olympics on multiple occasions as well as other national and international championships through the years of 1971-1988.
1981 Cuban National Team
This team was a force to be reckoned with in the world of water polo. During 1981 they placed for the Bronze medal in the Long Beach, USA FINA cup. That same year they went on to take home a gold medal in the 1st Coppa Latina, which took place in Santiago, Chile. They were coached by Oscar Periche.
Ronald “Ron” Crawford
Ron was part of the American Olympic Team during the years of 1960, 1964, and 1968. Throughout those years he played in 17 Olympic matches and collected nine goals. In 1977 Ron was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame, and in 1983 he was the first American Water Polo player to be inducted into the International Water Polo Hall of Fame.
Brenda Villa is the most decorated women’s water polo player, and was inducted into the International Water Polo Hall of Fame in May of 2018. Her freshman year at Stanford, she was awarded the NCAA Women’s Water Polo Player of the Year, a season in which she scored 69 goals. In her three seasons at Stanford, she scored a total of 172 goals. She even made an appearance in four Olympic medal ceremonies. She also garnished 14 Gold medals, as well as two silver medals across multiple other championships.
There is a much larger group of legends than just these four mentioned above, but with a sport of this age, there are too many great legends to fit on one article. One might say that there is too large of a “pool” to choose from.