Aquatics International had the opportunity to talk with Team USA Water Polo players Tim Hutten and Heather Petri, and diver Ariel Rittenhouse before they left for Beijing.
Hutten, spent a lot of time around the water while growing up in Southern California. He recently graduated from UC Irvine where he studied political science. On the USA Water Polo Team he plays 2-Meter Defense.
Also a Californian, Petri was a member of the bronze medal 2004 US Olympic Women's Water Polo Team and the 2000 silver medal team. A 2002 UC Berkley graduate, she studied biology with an emphasis in marine science. Petri plays the attacker position.
Along with partner Kelci Bryant, Rittenhouse, 17, recently took fourth place in the 3-meter synchro event. The duo narrowly missed a bronze medal. Rittenhouse, from Santa Cruz, Calif., now lives and trains in Indianapolis under coach Wenbo Chen, while attending an online school. Rittenhouse, along with her four older siblings, was born with quite an aquatic pedigree. Her mother Sharon, was a silver medalist in the 1964 Olympics and her uncle, Mike Finneran, Sharon's brother, was a diver in the 1972 Olympic Games.
Here's what they had to say about preparing for the games.
AI: How did you get into your sport?
Hutten: I started swimming on the Seal Beach [Calif.] swim team around age 8. I started playing [water polo] around age 11 and played throughout high school and college.
Petri: [At my high school,] there was no women's [water polo] team. I tried out for the [men's] team my sophomore year. I liked it so much and there were other girls who wanted to play, so we started a [women's] team.
Rittenhouse: I was always a water baby, and I'm a former gymnast. My uncle was an Olympic diver, so [you could say it's in my blood].
AI: What drives you to want to play?
Hutten: It's a fun sport with a lot of physical contact. What makes it fun for me personally is that I can keep trying to push myself and [improve] each time I play.
AI: What was your preparation for the Beijing Olympics like?
Hutten: Our training schedule [was] six days a week sometimes seven hours a day; lots of swimming and drills. It's pretty much the hardest that I've worked since I've played.
Petri: We train twice a day for three hours each practice. The majority [of the time] is in the pool, [but we spend a lot of time on dry land as well].
Rittenhouse: [We've been] training really hard, at least eight hours a day.
AI: What's the best advice you've gotten?
Hutten: I've gotten a lot of advice from my college coach. He would tell me that if you want to be successful you have to be self-disciplined and self-motivated.
Petri: I think it was when I was deciding whether I was going to train for the Olympics in 2000. I had a coach tell me that you just have to put it all out there.
Rittenhouse: [I've been told] to learn from my experiences. Even if you have a bad competition, you can still learn from it and improve.