A water polo weekend to remember

Newport Harbor will be site for pre-Olympic showcase, which begins Saturday and features three of top teams in world.

May 19, 2012|By Matt Szabo
  • USA's Ryan Bailey, seen here celebrating a goal against Serbia goalkeeper Slobodan Soro during the Summer Olympics in Beijing, will be among the star national players with local ties who will be in town next weekend for the pre-Olympic showcase.
USA's Ryan Bailey, seen here celebrating a goal… (Scott Strazzante,…)

Some of the best water polo players in the world are coming to Newport Harbor High next weekend.

With the weeks dwindling until the London Olympics, the Newport Beach Water Polo club is working on making it into a Memorial Day weekend to remember.

The club is hosting a three-day, pre-Olympic water polo showcase at Newport Harbor starting Saturday. Three of the top men's national teams in the world — Team USA, Hungary and Croatia — will be participating.

Robert Lynn can't wait. Lynn, who became the Newport Harbor boys' water polo coach a year ago, is also the head coach and technical director of Newport Beach Water Polo.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, though, he will be on the Sailors' pool deck in his capacity as an assistant coach of the U.S. men's national team. Lynn doesn't have to do much to sell the showcase, which features three teams with gold-medal aspirations in London. In 2008, Hungary beat the United States in the gold-medal game. Croatia finished sixth in Beijing, but was third at last year's FINA World Championships, also in China.


"It's a chance to see some of the best players in the word, really going at it," Lynn said. "It's at the top level, at the highest level of performance that they're going to be able to see this. It's very rare in this country that anyone [can] see the high-level games, ever. It's an exciting moment for me, as a coach in that position, to tie the two [Newport Harbor and U.S. national team coach] together. Of course, it was my wish to have Newport hosting."

The men's national team features former Corona del Mar High and Cal standout John Mann, as well as former UC Irvine players Ryan Bailey, Jeff Powers and Tim Hutten. They are part of 17 current players on the roster, which will be pared to the final 13 when the Olympic roster is named in early June.

Team USA begins the showcase Saturday at 6 p.m. at Newport Harbor, with a game against Croatia. Immediately following the game, there will be a dinner with the national team at the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach.

At noon on May 27, the United States will play Hungary, and that game is scheduled to be televised by NBC Sports. The final game of the showcase will be on Memorial Day, when Hungary plays Croatia at 5 p.m.

Lynn, who was a 2000 Olympian and also assistant coach on the 2008 silver-medal winning team, understands the importance of such games.

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