Budapest, Hungary - Margaret Island in Budapest, Hungary is water polo nirvana. Over 1,500 master’s athletes from around the world were welcomed to a water polo complex and community second to none. Six competition pools and two beer gardens within a hundred yard dash. Video boards, live streaming, play-by-play stats and evening crowds in the thousands took masters water polo to a new level. Masters athletes from over 50 countries and 120 club teams were divided into 12 age groups (30 to 70). The men had 14 teams in the 65 (9 teams) and 70 (5 teams) age groups. The oldest athlete competing was Milton Cambor (age 80) from Slovakia. Over 50 Olympians and senior national team members competed. Hungary + Water Polo = LOVE!
USA Club Team Medals (10 total)
Women (3+ age groups)…18 teams (4 USA)
30 Bay Area Masters, Silver
55/60 Menlo Park, 55+ Gold
55/60 Peninsula, 60+ Gold
Men (9 age groups)…102 teams (17 USA)
30 Olympic Club, Gold
35 Olympic Club, Bronze
50 Olympic Club, Bronze
55 Santa Barbara, Gold
60 Santa Barbara, Silver
65 Old Mission Bay, Bronze
70 Blue Thunder, Silver
USA Club Teams Competing (12 clubs, 21 teams)
Olympic Club, 4 teams, age 30W, 30, 35, 50
Santa Barbara, 3 teams, age 55, 60, 65
Bay Area Masters, 3 teams, age 30W, 30, 50
Blue Thunder, 3 teams, age 45, 60, 70
East Bay, age 35
Darkside, age 40
Triangle, age 40
Scottsdale, age 50
Menlo Park, age 55W
Peninsula, age 60W
Old Mission Bay, age 65
H2Oldies, age 70
The masters water polo community has held championships for 30 years in the USA and perhaps longer around the world. The interesting question is why do they keep competing? Water polo is not a part-time sport, you are either all in or not. We asked a number of the athletes competing why they trained and traveled to Budapest.
Why Do They Keep Competing?
1. We can…low impact sport, play forever
2. We must…keep moving, the couch will kill
3. Reason to train (swim)…peer pressure, prep for competition
4. Unique travel destinations and “local” experience
5. Comradery…tight community, 1 degree of separation in the world of water polo
6. Multi-Generational…play against “kids” and with your kids (i.e. Neushul Family)
Why Do You Keep Competing?
Dan Drown (age 74), UCLA 1964, 1964 Olympian…”Connections in the water. I am playing with two of my 1964 Olympic teammates. We know each other’s moves. I will play as long as possible, practice time and injury permitting.”
Brenda Villa (age 37), Stanford 2003, 2000-2012 Olympian (4x)…”I still like to compete and enjoy the international lifestyle. Competition is a reason to train. Water polo is a small community and I enjoy the comradery.”
Ryan Bailey (age 41), UC Irvine 1999, 2000-2012 Olympian (4x)…”I took five years off after the Olympics and tried cross-fit, ocean swimming and other activities. I missed being in polo shape and the fun of the game. I realized that I love the game.”
Pete Fischler (age 60), UC Irvine 1980 (polo & swim)…”Except for my family, polo is more fun than anything in my life. It allows us to test our physical limits as we age. I did not play from age 30 to 50, then I discovered masters polo. I will continue to play until I can’t.”
Peter Neushul (age 57), UC Santa Barbara 1983, father of 3 national team players…”I learned the game from older guys, I am inspired by them and I will keep playing with them. Six members of our 1979 NCAA Championship team were together this week and I will keep playing as long as they do. Polo is also a multi-generational game, I love playing with my girls.”
Andrew Mueller (age 59), former Hungarian National Team Player, member of the MC Walrus 55 team (Bronze at World Masters)…”I played in Hungary until I was 25 and then I immigrated to America where I coached and officiated in Florida. I was able to pass on my experience. My two sons played NCAA polo at Saint Francis and Fordham. I continue to play because it is a low impact sport and I enjoyed playing with my old Hungarian teammates after many years apart.”
Dante Dettamanti (age 74), Coach at UCSB (1974-1976), Stanford (1977-2001) and the Santa Barbara age 55 Team at World Masters (Gold Medal)…”These guys keep playing together because they were college friends and the trips around the world to compete are unique. (The team spent a week cruising the Aegean playing local Croatian teams to prepare for World Masters.) The team plans to stay together and travel to Korea for the 2019 World Masters.”
Tanya Gandy (age 30), UCLA 2009, 2009 World Champion…”I train and play to stay fit. Games get my competitive juices flowing again, I still get goose bumps before each match. It is also fun to play again with my old college teammates, two of them were in Budapest. This was the first international competition in ten years for a number of my teammates.”
Tom Duxbury (age 57), St Johns (MN) 1983 (swim), rumored to be the only Minnesotan to ever play polo outside of the USA…”My golf game sucks”
Stay young and start swimming, the next World Masters Championships are on the horizon.
2019…Gwangju, South Korea…July 29 – Aug 11
For the love of the game, see you in the pool again soon!
For complete 2017 FINA World Masters information and results, click here.
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