I had an underwater photo shoot with a water polo Olympian, Brenda Villa and I had an opportunity to do an interview with her! I feel so lucky!!
What was your dream when you were a child?
My first dream was to become a doctor or lawyer. However, I as I got older and became a better water polo player, water polo took over my life and lead me in a different direction.
What was the relationship like with your brother? Was he your inspiration or somebody else? Parents? (I read that he was a water polo player too)
As a younger sister, I followed my brother everywhere and wanted to do everything he did. I was lucky enough to play on the boys HS team with him and win a HS championship. I always wanted to be like him or get his approval. It was hard to get as a younger sister.
What was like to play in a boys team being only a girl? (high school?) I know kids can be mean!
My team was very supportive, I grew up playing with most of the boys. It usually was the opposition team that made comments and sometimes made me uncomfortable but my love for the game kept me playing.
Are you coaching a team now?
Right now, I coach a couple teams. I coach the HS girls at Castilleja School and I run a youth water polo team called the Menlo Mavericks. http://menloswim.com/belle-haven-pool/water-polo/menlo-mavericks/
You told me your happy place is underwater. Why? What does WATER mean to you?
Now that I am a retired Olympic water polo player, I am reminded that the water is my happy place. Swimming allows me to disconnect from the world and focus on myself. I miss it greatly and hope to get back into a routine so that I am allowing myself some inner peace daily.
What are the psychological benefits of Water Polo?
It is a great teacher of being present. The game is too quick to dwell on mistakes. It forces you to move on. It also encourages a lot of mental toughness because it is such a physically demanding sport.
How do you feel when you are outside the water compare to when you are in the water?
I feel the most comfortable and confident in the water.
Did you like the underwater portrait session and why?
I loved the underwater portrait session because I was able to use my skills as an aquatic athlete to pose for great pictures. I loved that I could control my body and breathing to capture a good moment. You also feel so beautiful and at peace underwater and loved that I could incorporate my passion in the portraits.
Do you believe in the power of water healing?
Yes, I believe the water can do many things and healing is definitely one of them. The ability to be comfortable in the water is a life saving skill. I also believe specifically in my case that it was an equalizer. The water allowed me a 5’4 athlete to compete at the highest levels of water polo without having my height be a disadvantage.
How did you sleep the night of the photo shoot?
Anytime I spend time in the water, I sleep better its like my soul gets replenished.
Did you achieve the dream you had when you were a child? Or achieving?
One of my dreams was to become an Olympic Champion and I was able to achieve it. Now, one of my dreams is to help increase access and opportunity to aquatics to under-served communities.
Planning to coach your beautiful baby girl in the future?
I want to pass on the love of the water to my baby girl but she will ultimately decide what inspires her. If it is water polo, I would love to help her reach her goals by coaching her or just supporting her.
Thank you so much for your time and sharing your story to inspire everyone in the world!