BOUNTIFUL – A gold medal-winning Olympian is coming to Davis County.
Tumua Anae, a member of the U.S. Women’s Water Polo Team, is coming to the South Davis Recreation Center on Dec. 8 at 9 a.m. Anae, who won gold along with her teammates in the 2012 Summer Olympics, will sign autographs, pose for pictures and teach a water polo lesson.
“We’re trying to get more kids interested in the sport,” said Anae. “I have a lot of family in Utah, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity.”
Water polo, also known as water ball, is a team sport where players compete to get the most balls in the net of the opposing team.
Each team consists of six players and one goalkeeper, and competing teams will swim, tread water, pass, defend opposing players to keep them from scoring and get points by throwing the ball into the opposing team’s net.
“It’s basically wrestling underwater,” said Anae. “Everyone thinks most of the action happens above water, but it doesn’t. The underwater cameras they used at the Olympics kind of gave everyone an idea of how physical this sport is.”
Anae will be on hand to sign autographs from 9-10:15 a.m., the same time as an open swim with water polo balls and goals. From 10:30-11 a.m. she’ll teach a water polo lesson for beginners ages 10-18, and from 11-11:30 a.m. she’ll teach a lesson for more experienced players.
“Polo’s a pretty low-income sport, but most people play for the love of the sport,” she said. “I started swimming at the age of 7, and always thought it was my sport. But the social aspects of water polo definitely drew me.”
Though there are professional water polo teams in Europe, the height of the sport for American players is attending the Olympics. In London this summer, Anae and her team won U.S.’s first gold since the women’s event was introduced in 2000.
“I don’t think you can explain what it’s like to get a gold medal,” she said. “It’s just a huge reward for a lifetime of hard work.”
Anae first found water polo when she went to high school in California. Though the sport isn’t as common here, Utah has its own youth and collegiate water polo leagues.
There is also an Olympic Development program and a summer league open to players.
The South Davis Recreation Center hosts its own club water polo team, the South Davis Terrapins. James Keddington, the team’s coach, helped organize Anae’s appearance.
“We’re giving people the chance to learn how to play from the very best in the world,” said Keddington.
The event is free, but registration is required to participate. For more information and to sign up, visit meetanolympian.eventbrite.com.
For more information about water polo opportunities in Utah, visit utahwaterpolo.com and southdavisrecreation.com/south-davis-terrapins.