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July 18, 2023 63 mins

In the Olympic era of women's water polo, one of the most well-known names in the sport is Brenda Villa. The longtime captain of the USA Water Polo Women's National Team, Villa took part in four Olympic Games winning a medal every time. Just five feet, four inches tall, the diminutive Villa defied expectation becoming a dominant force on both ends of the pool. She capped her storied career with a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. A three-time FINA World Champion, Villa bridged the gap from the pioneers of the Team USA women to the modern-day group that continues on a dynastic run. 

A native of Commerce, California, Villa first played high school water polo with boys before girls programs were available. From there, she headed to Stanford University where she won the 2002 NCAA title and was named the Cutino Award recipient as the best player in the college game. Named FINA Player of the Decade in 2010, Villa was also named Pac-12 Player of the Century in 2016. She has stayed close to the sport as a club and high school coach while taking on governance roles within the Women's Sports Foundation and Pan American Aquatics in addition to a spot on the USA Water Polo Board of Directors. She is a co-founder of the Brenda Villa Foundation, an organization focusing on increasing water safety and expanding diversity in aquatic sports.

Instagram: @brenda4villa


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