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Anae fulfills Olympic dream

Water Polo

Former Corona del Mar High and USC standout one of 13 selected for Team USA in women's water polo.

May 17, 2012|By Matt Szabo

"It's been great," Anae said. "She's a great person, to start with. She's fun to hang around with. I think I jive really well together inside and outside of the water, with our personalities. To train with the best goalie in the world, you're going to learn a lot of things. I've definitely learned a lot from Betsey about how you approach the game physically and mentally, and how you communicate with your teammates. I've learned a lot about the international game from her. It's not all work, you know, she's really fun. She's a cool person."

Anae's calm demeanor has helped her throughout her career. Chaney said Thursday in a phone interview from Hawaii that he remembers when she was an All-American at USC her sophomore year. Then, a bit of adversity struck the next year.

In 2009, the Trojans recruited Ilse van der Meijden of the Netherlands, who had helped her country earn the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. Not only that, but Trojans Coach Jovan Vavic made van der Meijden the starting goalie to begin the season.

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"Tumua has no ego, no selfishness on her part," Chaney said. "[She's] totally a team player ... She didn't get really bummed. If you were to throw [losing your starting spot] in front of a lot of college players, they'd be upset, crying. There would be drama, but not Tumua. I was living up there at the time, I was watching her. I'm sure she was bummed inside, but she didn't show it outwardly. She just kept working at it, and she got her starting position back. The rest was kind of history after that."

Well, almost. After winning the national championship at USC in 2010, Krikorian said Anae was left off the FINA World League Super Final and World Cup teams, each of which won gold medals. There has also been competition at the goalie spot from Sami Hill, the goalie who helped turn Dos Pueblos High of Goleta into a powerhouse before going to UCLA.

"[Anae] knew that it was a competitive environment," Krikorian said. "She knew that if she didn't raise her game, she wasn't going to make it ... She came back even stronger in 2011, and proved that she deserved to be on the team."

Thursday's announcement included an opening address from Anita DeFrantz, the LA84 Foundation President and an International Olympic Committee member. After the team was announced, a short highlight video came on. As "London Calling" from The Clash played in the background, the video ended with three simple words.

"It's our time."

It's a time that Tumua Anae, the former swimmer, will never forget.

"I grew up watching [seven-time Olympic swimming medalist] Amanda Beard," Anae said. "Since she was from Irvine, she was my Olympian that I kind of idolized. I would see her at swim meets and thought I wanted to be just like her.

"I guess water polo was my way in," she added with a laugh.

matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo

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